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Chris Carberry, Tuesday, 4-7-15 April 8, 2015

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Chris Carberry, Tuesday, 4-7-15


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Guest: Chris Carberry. Topics: Explore Mars Humans2Mars Summit, Mars and moon discussion, affordable space policy, NASA budgets, private sector & more. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm. For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.

We welcomed Chris Carberry back to the show to discuss Explore Mars events & activities. During the first segment of our 96 minute program, Chris started out by telling us about the upcoming Humans2Mars Summit planned for May 5-7 in Washington, DC. All the conference and registration information is available at http://h2m.exploremars.org. This discussion led me to asking him why we should go to Mars and why now. As part of this discussion, I challenged Chris on using tax payer money for a Mars mission rather than letting the private sector do it. In fact, he did get a listener question about this, suggesting that either Mars One or SpaceX take us to Mars, not the government. Eric sent in a note asking who we thought might be the next NASA administrator or at least who the candidates might be. He also wanted Chris to advise how best to influence officials, policy makers, members of congress, etc. to go to Mars. Chris offered several suggestions to this part of Eric’s two question email. Chris responded to emails about the Affordable Mars Workshop architecture for Mars that we have been hearing about over the past week, plus the recent NSS-SFF meeting where settlement seemed to be the agreed upon goal. Don’t miss what Chris had to say about these events as he attended both. Doug called from S. California to make the case for going back to the Moon on its own, not just as a stepping stone to Mars. Doug suggested that the lunar return folks team with the Mars folks to find the best way to do both missions as it should not be one or the other. He also wanted to make sure going back to the Moon did not delay going to Mars and that going to Mars did not delay or destroy the opportunities for returning to the Moon. Chris and Doug had a vibrant exchange on this subject, especially given this era of tight budgets & constraints.

In the second segment, John from Ft. Worth called to express a concern that going to Mars might end up like Apollo and after a few Martian visits, we quit that too. Chris explained why he did not think that would happen. Later, Dr. Lurio called and said that “these guys are ALL living in fantasy land, one version or another.” His call was to pick up from the email he sent us and to elaborate on his position which was hotly debated and challenged by Chris. One thing Chris and Charles agreed upon was that there would be no repeat of a so-called “Kennedy Moment.” As the show was ending, Chris went over the Humans2Mars Summit again and we talked about the need to start working on Mars plans rather than always just talking and “planning” about them.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog above. You can reach Chris through the Explore Mars website or me.


1. tahanson43206 - May 8, 2015

2015/05/08 This is a note of thanks to Chris Carberry for announcing the Internet broadcast of Explore Mars 2015. I was able to follow most of the conference in real time, and greatly appreciate the excellent panel discussions and stand alone presentations. The buffering of data is a challenge for any broadcast on this scale. My observation is that Android on a tablet seemed best able to sustain the connection, but even that service did drop out occasionally. Fortunately, recycling the URL seemed to restart the flow on all browsers tried. (th)

2. ericmachmer - April 15, 2015

Chris, you’re too nice. Being over-polite and diplomatic as a humans to Mars advocate cripples your effectiveness. In terms of returning humans to the moon it may seem congenial and cooperative, even gentlemanly, to say “I hear you, I’m certainly not opposed to going to other destinations”, but, your follow up reasons against sending humans to the moon first are lost – you barely get them in at all. It is possible to remain bipartisan and apolitical in terms of potential Republican/Democratic administrations while still advocating Mars direct, Mars first, Mars now. Clearly.

For example, this comes across as indecisive, unclear, uncharismatic:

“A lot of people think we should go to the moon to test landing – even though there’s no atmosphere on the moon – a lot of folks want to test out different landing procedures, since it’s close by and we haven’t landed on another planetary body with people since we landed on the moon so we haven’t practiced a lot lately. I’m certainly not opposed to going to the other destinations. We just have to define it in such a way that frankly we don’t get stuck there. Not literally. I mean we don’t stop on the moon and decide “well we’re going to build a base there…and spend a few decades there…and maybe some day we’ll go to Mars.”

Stand decisively for sending humans directly to Mars, first, preferentially. “No” works. “That is not a good idea” makes you look like you know what a better idea is. Which you do. You have succeeded in noble service for the Mars Society and have grown Explore Mars into a first-rate organization. The audience needs to know what you offer. There are clear differences between each destination in terms of equipment – vehicles, habitats, suits – and, procedures. You mention them, but only after seeming to acquiesce to a potential Moon First or Moon Also program. (For that matter the Earth is a planetary body upon which we can test propulsive landings.)

A representative of a humans to Mars advocacy organization holding its conference in Washington D.C. at the end of this month should be eager to mention a few contenders for the next position of NASA administrator, by name, in a bipartisan manner. Fellow advocates and H2M attendees could then familiarize themselves with such persons’ positions, lectures, testimonies, and so on. Saying “I’d rather not” mention such prospective candidates serves no one. Listeners respect “I don’t know, I’ll post a few names to the shownotes later”. Listeners do not respect taking a pass – it can be misinterpreted as self-serving. It also lacks charisma. Explore Mars is an advocacy organization. There is no LunarGestapo. Old loud L5 pirates are even starting to realize the moon is a siren’s call. Your ideas need to be heard. You do not need to be an engineer to speak authoritatively – you just clearly need to state common facts. Moon First advocates need to educated into extinction, not coddled.

It is possible to remain bipartisan while saying clearly: “No. That is wrong. Here’s why”. In terms of the next NASA administrator’s party affiliation it is possible to remain apolitical while still stating clearly: “No. That is wrong. The moon does not offer a meaningful test-step toward Mars. Sending humans to the moon is bad space policy. Returning humans to the moon would be an expensive waste of time and taxpayer resources for these reasons…”. (Completely different equipment, procedures, pressure, radiation, resources, light cycle, program delays, etc., etc…as you know.)


Lunar advocates must explain why the moon offers superior opportunities for obtaining resources than near-Earth asteroids. If fuel and resources harvested from asteroids close to the Earth will always outcompete lunar resources – even for use on the moon – then why should taxpayers subsidize lunar resource extraction? If the purpose of “lunar ice harvesting” is really to establish a permanent human presence, then lets discuss directly how absurd and ridiculous that is. If lunar resources are preferable in their own right – why is that? The idea lunar resources are preferable to asteroidal resources needs to be explained in direct profit/loss comparisons, not hand waving with “oh we’ve discovered more ice (yet again)”, “elevators will reduce costs 1,000 fold”, etc. With appropriate technology the moon could be seen as a low-quality gigantic asteroid in a ruinous gravity well – but then humans would still be unnecessary for harvesting from it.

A Phobos mission presents extended exposure to cosmic radiation. We need to place Mars pioneers in sheltered habitats beneath the Martian surface as fast as possible. They should strive to stay. To mine Phobos and to develop low Mars orbit infrastructure pioneers in Martian research settlements will use the same telerobotic technology used here on Earth to mine near-Earth asteroids (and explore the moon).

The overwhelming amount of work on the Martian surface – and on Phobos and Deimos – will be accomplished through Mars-operated telepresence. This is important to realize. The _only_ science conducted on the moon should be through telepresence. Scientists operating commercial off-the-shelf inexpensive telepresence stations – worldwide, around the clock – will accomplish vastly more lunar exploration than a handful of humans wandering about spots on its surface.

Any company sending humans to do anything on the moon other than bounce around as vain shallow tourists will be immediately bankrupted – by companies sending telerobots. For the cost of sending a few humans, hundreds if not thousands of telerobots could swarm across the moon doing anything whatsoever. Better. That is the technology we ought to advocate, telepresence: (1) so we can scientifically explore the moon more thoroughly than nightmarishly incompetent expensive humans, and, (2) so we can focus on sending humans beyond Earth telespace. To Mars. To the outer solar system. Out of Earth’s telespace. Anywhere but the moon.

Mars pioneers will be able to do things we cannot accomplish telerobotically from Earth. Lunar advocates sound as if they are entitled to easy accessible settlements and that this is somehow comparable to all the other science and settlement opportunities NASA may undertake. Many astronauts probably also want to return to Houston. That era is over. The point of human spaceflight is to send humans beyond Earth telespace to stay.

Deep sea and uranium mines use telepresence now. The Air Force trains more drone operators than it does pilots. Tesla expects to launch a commercial self-driving vehicle next year. Telepresence and AI will only improve as such technologies benefit from Moore’s law. Lunar advocates need to explain why taxpayers should subsidize Club Moon for privileged tourists indulging in bizarre expensive useless cosmic cosplay – instead of developing the billion-fold increase in our industrial base through telepresence and AI. Returning humans to the moon would be a ridiculous civilization-altering error. Forcing taxpayers to fund such corny 1950s nonsense should be illegal.

The real questions we should all ask ourselves arise from renting a Falcon 9 for fifty thousand dollars. When Musk refurbishes a Falcon 1,000 times and the primary cost of launching it is about $200,000 worth of methane, then “resources from space” – anywhere in space – will face competition from refined resources on Earth. Exotic fuels shipped from massive commercial highly-profitable oil-refineries on Earth will be much less expensive than the initial entry costs of obtaining/cracking/storing fuels from any space destination. A near-term LEO fuel depot is likely to be refueled from Earth. This is still a good thing. It will reduce the cost of boosting to GEO by 40% but, meanwhile, it presents a significant challenge to for-profit off-Earth resource development. The competitive hurdle of extremely low launch costs from Earth make entry costs of profitable resource extraction from any near-Earth destination nearly prohibitive. This is why the public ought to support relocating asteroid fragments in orbits close to Earth, and, subsidize their telerobotic development. Otherwise it may be a long time before private enterprise ignites the astounding commercial potential of our solar system.

Another question we ought to ask: what is the point of a second generation ISS in LEO if we routinely send humans on long duration deep space flights to Mars on cyclers? Why would we not conduct human-based studies en route to Mars rather than build another 150 billion dollar diversion in LEO? For India and China? Zero g experiments can be conducted on fully autonomous ISS2s in LEO populated exclusively by telerobots. Entire mini-stations could be mirrored at several locations on Earth, sharing similar control interfaces and ground-based personnel. Zero g experiments on humans should be conducted exclusively en route to Mars. Furthermore, the current ISS should be spiraled out to travel alongside Mars cyclers as a spare parts junkyard and perhaps emergency shelter, rather than retired into the Pacific.

What we really ought to be discussing – rather than second-rate half-baked third-world lunar fantasies – is: what’s after Mars? How do we send pioneer settlers to the outer planets? How do we facilitate the exploration and settlement of the asteroid belt? How do we send self-updating AI telescopes throughout the sun’s gravity focus? It is vital to embrace space-based telepresence so we can move on – away from Earth telespace.

(…just trying to be provocative, thanks for the show David)

3. Matt - April 8, 2015

For a position at Deimos the Mars turns only with a rate of 2.7 deg/hour, which allows a very long robot continous control time period.

Matt - April 9, 2015

Sorry, I copied the wrong link above. Here is the correct one:

B John - April 11, 2015

About 60 hours in a row? How many operators are involved in controlling Curiosity from Earth, or any military UAV? And then you must take that times three for the shift work. How many dozen of astronauts do you will be sent to Mars orbit on the first mission.

The telerobotics argument for orbiting Mars is incompetent. The concept is undoable. And it would be much cheaper to send 100 Curiosity rovers to Mars, than many humans to teleoperate one single rover from orbit.

DougSpace - April 12, 2015

I think that BJohn is correct here. The opportunity to do real-time telerobotics from a Martian moon is insufficient justification for that mission. The #1 reason for this is exactly what BJohn says which is that it would cost far, far less to send multiple rovers to the Martian surface than it would cost to send a few humans to a Martian moon.

I would add to that a rather important point which is that those many rovers could be sent to many different locations but that a few astronauts on Phobos or Deimos couldn’t simultaneously control that many rovers.

I say these things being fully aware that, yes, one astronaut could do the same amount of work as one rover does in a fraction of the time. Yes. But no crewed mission could reach the many different and unique locations that many rovers could land at for the same cost. Geologic science is an insufficient rationale for human missions to anywhere in space.

None-the-less, humans can do something that robots can never do and that is to establish a human settlement. And I think that that is justification enough. And so, that should be the focus of the HSF program to Mars.

Matt - April 12, 2015

A robot that work in real time on command will be much faster as rover, which is commanded from Earth stepwise and you have to wait a half hour see the next 10 cm drive.

Matt - April 12, 2015

I think you are wrong. It is the advantage of the telerobotic concept that only a few (maybe even only one) operator for a walking robot is required, because it can be operated in real time without need of much pre planning and waiting for response of the robots after commanding a movement. The robot (I do not talking about a rover) is the operator’s elongated hand and eye in real time.

You can afford to lose some of the dozens of the robots that you sent to surface. Sending men to surface and returning them it a magnitude more expensive and also very hazardous compared to a simple docking maneuver in space. In a further development stage, Mars soil samples may shoot into Mars orbit and directly and fast investigated in the laboratory on Deimos. No need to send the samples back to Earth.

4. Matt - April 8, 2015

I think Doug’s comments are right. We need communality between Moon and Mars manned projects. I have to correct my earlier comments, it is my belief now that manned expeditions to the Moon (which is valued destination in its own right) and longer or even permanent stays at Moon are natural next step and shall be done before manned Mars landings will happen. Let us go step by step. Moon is nearby and may contribute to the overall manned deep space vehicle technology development at such.

The final purpose of new Moon missions (in different to first Mars mission) is to stay there “forever”. The mission objectives going to Mars and Moon are significant different. Mars mission shall be deticated entirely to the search for extinct or recent life, whereas the Moon mission is targeting more on economical and colonization as on scientific purposes. I did also advocate several times manned mission to Deimos to sustain a space station there in order to steer and control on Mars’ surfaces before surface landing.



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