# SpaceX

## Can Elon Musk get us to Mars by 2024?   11 members have voted

1. ### 1. Can Elon Musk get us to Mars by 2024?

• Yes!
3
• Absolutely Not
8

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23 minutes ago, CharonY said:

I think the recent Gamestop debacle shows that stock market values do not need to correspond anything rational per se (or maybe I am misunderstanding your comments).

2800 companies are traded on US stock exchanges. I don't think one short episode for one stock is enough to show that stock analysts don't know how to value a company.

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Elon Musk can't get anyone to even the Moon. Do you think space travel is magic? Has anything changed since Apollo? Physics maybe?  Absolutely not. dV hasn't changed. Rocket engine thru

Boy you're naive. NASA gave money to Musk because Musk is now a billionaire and can tell congressmen to give him money.  The days of the US accomplishing anything are fastly deteriorating.

Their, they're, there are sew so many weighs ways of getting it wrong. I just make sure I get it write.  Musk seems to think his Starlink revenues will provide the necessary funding.

1 hour ago, StringJunky said:

Stock prices are set by people smarter than me.

I sncerely doubt that, Zap 🙂 .

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As iNow pointed out, SpaceX is privately funded. If it turns out to be a colossal waste of money, it's mostly his so he can piss it away any way he sees fit. Would we rather Musk put his money into diamond encrusted yachts and buying football clubs?

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16 hours ago, zapatos said:

2800 companies are traded on US stock exchanges. I don't think one short episode for one stock is enough to show that stock analysts don't know how to value a company.

I am not entirely convinced (though it could simply be attributed to ignorance on that matter). Roughly from what I understand on a high level values are largely determined by confidence in a particular stock. Now it could be that stock brokers are rational actors and that the system would be accurately described under the efficient market hypothesis. I.e. there are rational calculations to be made and investors largely follow them for evaluation.

Under this assumption, things like bubbles do not exist, for example. Interestingly certain investors themselves argue against the rationality of the market pointing toward wild swings (and some use those to create profits for themselves, which in a perfectly rational system would not be possible). There are also behavioural studies indicating that investors do not follow the model of rational actors very well, in part because information is unevenly distributed or sometimes purposefully obtuse and in part because some behaviour can be closer modelled as herd behaviour where someone (influential) asserts or indicates stability or instability in certain stocks and other follow suit.

Now this is obviously based on very superficial reading on the matter but what I took away is that the market is potentially more volatile than I assumed it to be.

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16 hours ago, MigL said:
17 hours ago, StringJunky said:

Stock prices are set by people smarter than me.

I sncerely doubt that, Zap 🙂 .

My apologies, that should be Stringy, not Zap.
( I don't think they are any smarter than you either, Zap )

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30 minutes ago, CharonY said:

I am not entirely convinced (though it could simply be attributed to ignorance on that matter). Roughly from what I understand on a high level values are largely determined by confidence in a particular stock. Now it could be that stock brokers are rational actors and that the system would be accurately described under the efficient market hypothesis. I.e. there are rational calculations to be made and investors largely follow them for evaluation.

Under this assumption, things like bubbles do not exist, for example. Interestingly certain investors themselves argue against the rationality of the market pointing toward wild swings (and some use those to create profits for themselves, which in a perfectly rational system would not be possible). There are also behavioural studies indicating that investors do not follow the model of rational actors very well, in part because information is unevenly distributed or sometimes purposefully obtuse and in part because some behaviour can be closer modelled as herd behaviour where someone (influential) asserts or indicates stability or instability in certain stocks and other follow suit.

Now this is obviously based on very superficial reading on the matter but what I took away is that the market is potentially more volatile than I assumed it to be.

Also, it ocurred to me, what proportion of investors take leads from stock analysts?

17 minutes ago, MigL said:

My apologies, that should be Stringy, not Zap.
( I don't think they are any smarter than you either, Zap )

Zap said that.  Have a nap!

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, MigL said:

My apologies, that should be Stringy, not Zap.

56 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

Zap said that.  Have a nap!

Stupid software! That's what happens when you quote from a quote rather than quoting from the original! 😃

1 hour ago, CharonY said:

Now it could be that stock brokers are rational actors and that the system would be accurately described under the efficient market hypothesis. I.e. there are rational calculations to be made and investors largely follow them for evaluation.

Under this assumption, things like bubbles do not exist, for example.

My understanding is that 'efficient market' also includes the fact that information is available to all and therefore already factored into the price. Under this assumption it is 'reasonable' to buy any stock, and is the main reason that so many people invest in index funds.

Active investing is the assumption that something may have been missed, which is where stock analysts earn their salaries. By reviewing PE ratios, which way the wind is blowing regarding specific regulations in congress, scandals, R&D spending, patents, likelihood of mergers, meetings with CEOs, discovered natural resources, etc., stock analysts compare stock price to their own valuations, looking for differences.

It is this constant search for a slight edge that naturally keeps stock prices in line.

This is not to say there can't be sharp drops or increases due to irrational behavior, but that in the long view, the values can be considered accurate.

Bubbles only exist in the short term. In the long term they are smoothed out and are not significant.

Part of our differing views on this subject may have to do with the time frames we are both considering.

Edited by zapatos
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38 minutes ago, zapatos said:

Part of our differing views on this subject may have to do with the time frames we are both considering.

That is very likely the case. However, I will add that there is also literature specifically on stock analysts highlighting effects such as bias due to fund relationships and conflict of interest (e.g. related to incentives), which as a whole is not really surprising. It may very well be the case that these effects over long term tends to even out (I suspect the fact that most investors do not beat the market could be an argument for either outcome).

There were a few papers discussing whether analysts were consistently able to make reliable recommendations and the results were fairly mixed. I remember one paper where the authors indicated that past successes were not predictive of future accuracy, whereas some others indicated that there might be "star" predictors who consistently perform well.

Otoh one of the top 30 stock pickers was a chimpanzee: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/like-1999-still-a-chimps-party-on-wall-street-2012-12-27 (not really an argument, but I always found that amusing).

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Nap's over, Stringy.
( and I'm back at work tomorrow evening; been napping for almost 2 1/2 weeks )

2 hours ago, zapatos said:

This is not to say there can't be sharp drops or increases due to irrational behavior ...

... that leads stock brokers to jump out of 20th story windows, on particularly dark Mondays ( 1929, 1987, 2008, etc. )

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1 minute ago, MigL said:

( and I'm back at work tomorrow evening; been napping for almost 2 1/2 weeks )

Feeling better I hope! And don't forget, loss of memory (and hair!) is a side effect.

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LOL
I just finally got a haircut the other day.
Wanted to have cute hair for the nurses giving the vaccine.

getting back to SpaceX, this is what happens when someone other than NASA ( or the Russians and ESA ) puts payloads into orbit.

Do we want 20 tons or more, hurtling out of the sky in an uncontrolled re-entry ?

I guess, if you cut corners and don't care about safety,  you can put a payload into LEO very cheaply.

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2 hours ago, MigL said:

LOL
I just finally got a haircut the other day.
Wanted to have cute hair for the nurses giving the vaccine.

getting back to SpaceX, this is what happens when someone other than NASA ( or the Russians and ESA ) puts payloads into orbit.

Do we want 20 tons or more, hurtling out of the sky in an uncontrolled re-entry ?

I guess, if you cut corners and don't care about safety,  you can put a payload into LEO very cheaply.

Yeah the desire to get somewhere first or fast is not necessarily the friend of doing it safely, which also applies to manned Mars expeditions. NASA struggled with that, too (Challenger).

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14 hours ago, Prometheus said:

As iNow pointed out, SpaceX is privately funded.

SpaceX income and commercial viability depends heavily on government contracts and it is a long way short of beng fully funded privately; it receives a lot of government funding, which comes tied to particular projects and outcomes. I am not sure what it is but it is not "private enterprise" as it is usually understood. Even Starlink is getting funding. By operating a business which has the US government as the principle customer SpaceX can't just do as it pleases - and without the strong US government support I think current SpaceX capabilities would be much more modest and big ambitions like Mars missions look a lot less likely. Not that I think colonies will be possible even with strong government commitment.

Will the Lunar lander they are being funded to develop be the prototype for the Mars landers that don't yet exist?

I think they will keep up the science fiction inspired Mars Colony hype but with a timeline reminiscent of Zeno's Paradox, whilst hoping that sufficient popular support leads to a crewed Mars mission as a government funded venture, like with the moon.

As contractors they would be well placed to make the profits but avoid the financial risks. Doing it as a wholly private venture?  I don't think they are anywhere near being capable of even doing a crewed orbit of Mars and return, let alone landings.

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Posted (edited)

I voted no in the OP poll.

In saying that and trying to make sense out of the negativity and some fence sitting being shown in this thread, I have some questions of my own....all say within a time frame of 100 years.

[1] Will we go back to the Moon?

[2] Should we go back to the Moon?

[3] Will we establish a colony there?

[4] Should we establish a colony [or space station] there?

[5] Will we land men on Mars?

[6] Should we land men on Mars?

[7] Will we establish a colony on Mars?

[8] Should we establish a colony there?

The next two questions go beyond the 100 year time frame and up to 500 years....

[9] Will we become a space faring race and leave our solar system?

[10] Will that be in generation type star ships, or via new physics and technological know how?

My own answers are yes most certainly for the first 8 questions, and yes possibly for the next two.

Edited by beecee
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100 years is a very long time frame.

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13 minutes ago, MigL said:

100 years is a very long time frame.

Yes, I wanted to give the most pessimistic amongs us, plenty of scope. 😉

Adding to that anyway, my argument about manned space flight, particularly putting boots on Mars and returning them safely, has always been with a variable time frame.

On a more serious note, I just hope that the least loss of lives possible, is achieved in pursuit of science, exploration, adventure, and simply, because its there.

There will always be plenty to take up the challenge. The defunct Mars One fiasco attracted something like 200,000 from memory, for a one way trip.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_One

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

I don't think they are anywhere near being capable of even doing a crewed orbit of Mars and return, let alone landings.

It’s really only a matter of funding, IMO. After all… The graveyard of history is littered with those who said something could not be done.

“Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.”

34 minutes ago, MigL said:

100 years is a very long time frame.

Especially given the modern day pace of innovation and realization of possibility. +1

Edited by iNow
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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

SpaceX income and commercial viability depends heavily on government contracts and it is a long way short of beng fully funded privately; it receives a lot of government funding, which comes tied to particular projects and outcomes. I am not sure what it is but it is not "private enterprise" as it is usually understood. Even Starlink is getting funding. By operating a business which has the US government as the principle customer SpaceX can't just do as it pleases - and without the strong US government support I think current SpaceX capabilities would be much more modest and big ambitions like Mars missions look a lot less likely. Not that I think colonies will be possible even with strong government commitment.

They won those contracts on merit, and that money would have gone somewhere else (Russia or another telecoms company) if not SpaceX.

SpaceX charge NASA about $55 million per astronaut to LEO. This compares favourably to ~$90 million (and steadily rising) the Russians were charging, and the predicted $90 million the Boeing's Starliner will charge. The FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund has been awarded ~$20 billion to help improve rural internet access. This will go anywhere the money is deemed useful. Starlink has been awarded less than $1 billion of that. It seems money well spent on what has become vital infrastructure. It's a priority for many governments -in the UK Labour pledged to spend £20 billion rolling out more fibre optic in the last election, most of which would have gone to BT (a telecoms company). SpaceX a private industry with the US government as it's current primary customer at the moment. Companies like Lockheed Martin for instance, or any pharmaceutical company in the UK (NHS). 9 hours ago, Ken Fabian said: Will the Lunar lander they are being funded to develop be the prototype for the Mars landers that don't yet exist? The Lunar lander was already being developed before the contract was awarded, and will still be developed even if the contract is lost (Boeing and Dynetics have challenged the award. If successful one of those companies will get the money, though apparently they were asking for a lot more than$3 billion). It's part of the the Starship project, which is what will try for Mars. As far as i can tell it's funding has thus far been entirely private. If you have info on it do share because it's hard to find any data on this. It already has a commercial award in the form of dearMoon - a billionaire has paid for a lunar flyby.

9 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

I think they will keep up the science fiction inspired Mars Colony hype but with a timeline reminiscent of Zeno's Paradox, whilst hoping that sufficient popular support leads to a crewed Mars mission as a government funded venture, like with the moon.

Again, where would you rather this money go? NASA and the FCC are spending this money whether SpaceX exists or not.

Edited by Prometheus
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I was going to start another thread, but perhaps this is better here.

Blue Origin will fly first crew to space in July

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19 hours ago, iNow said:

The graveyard of history is littered with those who said something could not be done.

But I expect that is not as big a graveyard as for those who thought something could be done but it turned out it couldn't.

Seriously, these kinds of arguments around having the right attitude don't answer the fundamental problems. Take it for granted that there will be visionaries and risk takers and that they will be admired for it. And some will get it right and change the course of human history and all but the spectacular failures will be forgotten. But I'd like to hear something more substantive about how the risks and problems are to be dealt with than cliches and slogans.

19 hours ago, MigL said:

100 years is a very long time frame.

It will 100 years of the world changing out of recognition. A century of coming up against hard resource limits and dealing with climate change impacts. Advances in technology and industry, yes, especially near term, but I think there are limits to those too. R&D and continuing advances depend on healthy, wealthy economies and no matter the appearance of continuing advancement as an inevitability I don't believe that it is.

12 hours ago, Prometheus said:

They won those contracts on merit, and that money would have gone somewhere else (Russia or another telecoms company) if not SpaceX.

Communications looks like the exception that has developed a commercial foundation and can generate sufficient income to pay it's own way. But the entire industry outside of communications and observation is propped up one way or another by taxpayers and even those mostly are too, so it becomes a question of the goals of those space agencies and their governments and what they ought to be supporting.

Mars is not a commercial opportunity but servicing government contracts to go to Mars can be, if governments can be induced to support it; the private money invested in developing SpaceX capabilities included capabilities that overlap with Mars ambitions, but always depended on getting rockets that can service governments to be a viable business. I think that expectation of taxpayer funding helping, if not outright paying them to go to Mars was always there.

Even more so than most government contract servicing businesses, that may have significant commercial business outside contracting, these "private" space ventures depend on taxpayers. What looks clear to me is there is zero chance of private enterprise going to the moon or Mars without it being mostly if not fully government supported. And I do not think there will be any tangible benefits to Earth or even to advancing Grand Space Dreams in these Mars ambitions.

An order of magnitude reduction in launch costs is an astonishing achievement and will benefit Near Earth (Earth oriented) space activities (which we can hope will not be weaponising near Earth space) but it is not nearly enough to make the moon or Mars viable for colonisation. Another one or two orders of magnitude might get us commercially viable asteroid mining, but still leave Mars colonies as unviable. Which colonies I believe will require a substantial Mars economy and population - with no way to pay their way during establishment and facting extinction level dangers on a constant basis.

Optimising current rocket technologies to achieve another 10 fold cost reduction looks a lot harder than the first time around and there aren't any promising exotic new technologies that look capable of bringing space shipping costs down anywhere near shipping costs within the main economy. Earth based open ended R&D - that works just as well without a specific space colonisation focus is where that will come from, if that is actually possible. Ultimately understanding the depths of the challenges and limits of materials and technology can tell us if we are wasting efforts on unreachable goals - we will know that throwing yet more effort into it in "obstacles are opportunities" style won't work.

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53 minutes ago, Ken Fabian said:

But I expect that is not as big a graveyard as for those who thought something could be done but it turned out it couldn't.

That may or may not be true...so what? Give up? Don't even try? Sorry I believe in giving it a go and testing science/technology to its limits, of which we are ignorant of anyway. [that is the limits of science of which you appear to be putting a limitation on]

56 minutes ago, Ken Fabian said:

Seriously, these kinds of arguments around having the right attitude don't answer the fundamental problems.

Having the right attitude, is searching for answers in addressing those well known problems, and solving them if we can. We don't know the answer to that until we try and give it all we have got.

59 minutes ago, Ken Fabian said:

Take it for granted that there will be visionaries and risk takers and that they will be admired for it.

We can all thank the visionaries and risk takers for the advancements in science in most cases.

1 hour ago, Ken Fabian said:

And some will get it right and change the course of human history and all but the spectacular failures will be forgotten.

Sure some will [thankfully] get it right, and any failures will be duly noted and rectified. You don't think we should give it a try?

1 hour ago, Ken Fabian said:

But I'd like to hear something more substantive about how the risks and problems are to be dealt with than cliches and slogans.

While I am certainly ignorant of how and what process is being, and has been made in solving the problems with getting to Mars, AND "ALL THOSE OTHER HARD THINGS", I'm pretty sure that they are all being looked at as we type/speak. The simple fact of the Artemis projects and others can vouch for that I believe.

1 hour ago, Ken Fabian said:

Earth based open ended R&D - that works just as well without a specific space colonisation focus is where that will come from, if that is actually possible. Ultimately understanding the depths of the challenges and limits of materials and technology can tell us if we are wasting efforts on unreachable goals - we will know that throwing yet more effort into it in "obstacles are opportunities" style won't work.

Robotics and automation will always lead the way to eventual boots on the ground, no matter how much effort is required.

Lord Kelvin: 1895: “heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible”,

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Ken Fabian said:

But I expect that is not as big a graveyard as for those who thought something could be done but it turned out it couldn't.

Indeed, sir. Touché. Quite right.

At the risk of taking this too far, the cemetery with people trying and failing to do things that are most definitely and without question doable is even larger. ✌️

1 hour ago, Ken Fabian said:

we will know that throwing yet more effort into it in "obstacles are opportunities" style won't work.

I was with you and in agreement throughout your whole well thought out post, but admit you lost me a bit with this closing. I don’t disagree with you about the reality and scale of the challenges, only about your apparent conclusion that we lack the capacity as humans to overcome them… Sure, “How” remains TBD for now, but dismissing potential solutions entirely just because we personally find them incredulous is a logical fallacy.

Edited by iNow
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On 5/5/2021 at 10:39 AM, beecee said:

I voted no in the OP poll.

In saying that and trying to make sense out of the negativity and some fence sitting being shown in this thread, I have some questions of my own....all say within a time frame of 100 years.

[1] Will we go back to the Moon?

[2] Should we go back to the Moon?

[3] Will we establish a colony there?

[4] Should we establish a colony [or space station] there?

[5] Will we land men on Mars?

[6] Should we land men on Mars?

[7] Will we establish a colony on Mars?

[8] Should we establish a colony there?

The next two questions go beyond the 100 year time frame and up to 500 years....

[9] Will we become a space faring race and leave our solar system?

[10] Will that be in generation type star ships, or via new physics and technological know how?

My own answers are yes most certainly for the first 8 questions, and yes possibly for the next two.

What are your feelings regarding those questions Ken?

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8 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

Communications looks like the exception that has developed a commercial foundation and can generate sufficient income to pay it's own way. But the entire industry outside of communications and observation is propped up one way or another by taxpayers and even those mostly are too, so it becomes a question of the goals of those space agencies and their governments and what they ought to be supporting.

And those communications would not have developed without significant government investment for a few decades. It's a tried and tested method of creating new industries.

Besides, Starship has so far been entirely privately funded. If the company makes some money from government on the side, what's so wrong with that? The company is just navigating the business ecosystem as it currently exists.

Other than government, i think you might be underestimating the potential size of the space tourism sector. We don't know how much Yusaku Maezawa will be charged for a lunar flyby, but he did sell ~$2.8 billion of assets soon after announcing the trip. The estimate for the entire development of Starship is ~$5 billion.

8 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

Mars is not a commercial opportunity but servicing government contracts to go to Mars can be, if governments can be induced to support it; the private money invested in developing SpaceX capabilities included capabilities that overlap with Mars ambitions, but always depended on getting rockets that can service governments to be a viable business. I think that expectation of taxpayer funding helping, if not outright paying them to go to Mars was always there.

Always is a very long time.

Selling services to a government isn't quite the same as taxpayer funding is it? NASA spent $200 billion over the lifetime of the Space shuttle - performing activities the US government clearly want to pursue. If a company can provide most of those activities for a fraction of the cost, isn't it a win-win situation? I guess i don't understand why you have such a big problem with industries with government as a customer. 8 hours ago, Ken Fabian said: Even more so than most government contract servicing businesses, that may have significant commercial business outside contracting, these "private" space ventures depend on taxpayers. What looks clear to me is there is zero chance of private enterprise going to the moon or Mars without it being mostly if not fully government supported. And I do not think there will be any tangible benefits to Earth or even to advancing Grand Space Dreams in these Mars ambitions. Again, SpaceX is going to the moon with or without NASA in the form of dearMoon, i.e. space tourism - it was planned before the Artemis contract, and is independent of it. It still might not happen for whatever reason, but zero chance? Seriously? 8 hours ago, Ken Fabian said: An order of magnitude reduction in launch costs is an astonishing achievement and will benefit Near Earth (Earth oriented) space activities (which we can hope will not be weaponising near Earth space) but it is not nearly enough to make the moon or Mars viable for colonisation. Another one or two orders of magnitude might get us commercially viable asteroid mining, but still leave Mars colonies as unviable. Which colonies I believe will require a substantial Mars economy and population - with no way to pay their way during establishment and facting extinction level dangers on a constant basis. And the order of mag improvement would not have happened so fast without the ambition of going to Mars - it's the reason SpaceX was founded. So what if they fail in that long term goal? If they've made asteroid mining viable then that's a pretty impressive failure. 8 hours ago, Ken Fabian said: Optimising current rocket technologies to achieve another 10 fold cost reduction looks a lot harder than the first time around and there aren't any promising exotic new technologies that look capable of bringing space shipping costs down anywhere near shipping costs within the main economy. Earth based open ended R&D - that works just as well without a specific space colonisation focus is where that will come from, if that is actually possible. Ultimately understanding the depths of the challenges and limits of materials and technology can tell us if we are wasting efforts on unreachable goals - we will know that throwing yet more effort into it in "obstacles are opportunities" style won't work. Starship is aiming to get payload costs to$10 per kilo against the current $1000. So that's two more orders of magnitude anticipated in the next 3-5 years. I'm not an engineer, but from what i understand it's considered a realistic target. We won't have long to wait to see - this thread will probably still be going then. It's not so much rocket tech improvements that are driving down costs. Thus far the biggest gains are in re-usability. The shuttle program had some re-usability, but apparently it cost loads to refurbish it for each flight, and only a part was re-usable. Even Falcons 9s/heavy only reuse the lower stage (the rocket that got cost down to$1000/kilo). Starship aims to reuse lower stages and the ship itself, i.e. everything. Other cost savings take the form of launchpad optimisation, the sheer size of the ship (Shuttle ~27 tonnes, Starship ~100-150 tonnes) and rapid deployment.

Do you have any links/data on how much money Starship has received from government and how much has been raised privately?

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I don't think I can address all the arguments from multiple people in one session and some probably deserve their own thread - and I won't keep at this endlessly - but fwiw -

20 hours ago, iNow said:

don’t disagree with you about the reality and scale of the challenges, only about your apparent conclusion that we lack the capacity as humans to overcome them… Sure, “How” remains TBD for now

We have a growing capacity to assess the scale of the challenges we face before we face them, to know the theoretical and practical limits we can expect to come up against, to model them. I expect we will get a top to bottom theoretical understanding of the physics of our universe and thus of limits of material properties and processes - and I don't expect it to include magical outcomes. That will allow us to better recognise what is physically possible and what is not. We can also get better at assessing benefits and cost and what is achievable and what is not. We are already good at that and Mars colonies don't stack up.

Previous rounds of natural philosophers and scientists getting it wrong doesn't preclude final iterations getting it right; science is already circling in on those final truths. I don't accept the possibilities for ever better technological capabilities are open ended. And some will be hypothetically possible and demonstrable but in practice impossible to exploit due to absence of commercial viability. Like possible Mars colonies.

20 hours ago, beecee said:

What are your feelings regarding those questions Ken?

I no doubt don't have the right attitude - I think the commercial viability is absolutely essential to shift from being a taxpayer funded loss making activity to profitable for growth and any inevitability to kick in. Requiring commercial viability is the right attitude.

1, We (US or China, not my nation) probably will send crewed missions to the moon, for national pride. There are credible plans and commitments from the US to do so and abandoning them will look weak.

2, I see no compelling reason to do so - national pride and one-upping China isn't a compelling reason.

3, I doubt there will ever be a colony on the moon - nothing there of value, no commercial base, no way to pay it's way.

4, I see no compelling reason to do so.

5, I think it is unlikely, but possible we will send crewed missions to Mars. For national pride. Or perhaps billionaire's pride.

6, I see no compelling reason to do so.

7, I strongly doubt there will ever be a colony on Mars - because there is nothing there of value, no commercial basis and no way to pay it's way. Without a sound economic basis it fails.

8, I see no compelling reason to do so.

9a, I think it is possible we will establish self supporting civilisations in space but as an emergent outcome from enduring commercial success at asteroid mining for Earth markets - more likely if doing so actually turns out requiring in-space crews and the whole enterprise is not automated and operated remotely. As a goal in and of itself, no.

9b, if 9a then just possibly habitats that thrive entirely on asteroid/cometary resources - if abundance of reliable fusion energy that is readily and reliably copied is achieved, ie energy apart from solar - then they might survive in the Kuiper and Oort. I don't think humans will ever explore other solar systems, even with probes - not unless successive generations build out new habitations ever further out and keep doing so reliably for a few hundred thousand years.

10, I don't believe generation ships will ever be viable. I don't expect exotic reactionless or FTL ships will ever be possible - and if our current Earth civilisation doesn't implode I think we will achieve a complete understanding of the fundamental physics of our universe in this century and will achieve the ability to know for sure.

Mining bulk physical commodities for the Earth market - accessing the abundance of iron and nickel and the more valuable elements mixed in with them - has a compelling basis. Success will probably depend on NOT involving astronauts working in space. Meteor defense looks like a good motivation for taxpayer funded space capability. Colonising, as goal in and of itself? No, I don't think it is compelling. If somehow it can be done easily, where it presents economic opportunity, sure, but it looks anything but easy or presenting commercial opportunity.

15 hours ago, Prometheus said:

Do you have any links/data on how much money Starship has received from government and how much has been raised privately?

I don't think is possible to compartmentalise any company's finances like that - too opaque and too much overlap. Direct funding for Starship? Offhand I only recall "just" $80M to assist testing rocket engines that appears directly related. The$2.9M moon lander funding has apparently been suspended.

I don't have a special issue with companies bidding for government contracts - which by their nature will include profitability for the contractor - but with misrepresenting it as a private enterprise industry and private industry ambition that stands on it's own feet.

SpaceX PR seriously understates the difficulties of grand goals like Mars colonies and hypes unrealistic outcomes. I don't believe they will be capable of doing Mars landings as purely private enterprise ventures, let alone colonies. If they do get to Mars "independently" it will be because of enduring profitability in servicing government contracts - and will probably be a poor business decision. I don't believe space tourism can prop it up and make it commercially viable - something of tangible value has to flow back to Earth.

I don't believe it is the role of governments to prop such speculative ventures - but concede that others disagree. I am not stopping anyone but SpaceX is popularising Mars missions with unrealistic hype and do engage in lobbying for government support for funding them.

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