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Can Elon Musk get us to Mars by 2024?  

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

    • Yes!
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    • Absolutely Not
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Thanks as always for your thoughtfulness and clarity, Ken. It’s much appreciated

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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.

6 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

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.

Apparently the US Air Force gave SpaceX $40 - 85 million to help develop the raptor engine. It's not money to prop up speculative adventure - the US air force wants something tangible out of it. In this case they want an American supply chain so they can stop relying on Russian made rockets. Sounds sensible for an Air Force. 

 

6 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

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.

I think we're using a different definition of private company so i had to look it up. I got this: The private sector is the part of the economy that is run by individuals and companies for profit and is not state controlled. Therefore, it encompasses all for-profit businesses that are not owned or operated by the government. It doesn't mention whether government is a customer or not (which makes sense to me, else every pharmaceutical company in the UK is not private industry either as the NHS is by far their biggest customer. By this, or another definition you know, is SpaceX misrepresented as a private company?

 

6 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

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.

What numbers are looking at to make you think this? Just US tourism (pre-pandemic) trade was worth $2.9 trillion per year. If space tourism can nab just a fraction of that they'd be doing OK. What's flowing back to the US in this case, other than tourists? By tangible do you mean raw or processed goods?

This article speculates that the space tourism industry will be worth $23 billion a year by 2030 - most of that from disrupting the long-haul flight market. 

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7 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

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.

Thanks for taking the time to answer those questions. I obviously disagree with you, but you certainly are entitled to your opinion.

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Wow, didn't expect this when I landed on this thread. Too long, didn't read. Read this though, have a question:

On 5/7/2021 at 1:32 AM, Prometheus said:

Apparently the US Air Force gave SpaceX $40 - 85 million to help develop the raptor engine. It's not money to prop up speculative adventure - the US air force wants something tangible out of it. In this case they want an American supply chain so they can stop relying on Russian made rockets. Sounds sensible for an Air Force. 

I don't think we have a russian made rocket supply chain? None of that makes sense. ULA and a few others are American based.

Why does the USAF need to give money to someone else to do what ULA is already doing?

I side with Ken Fabian who is quoted as saying SpaceX is unrealistic hype. But so is Axios and a few others as evidenced from this quote:

On 5/7/2021 at 1:32 AM, Prometheus said:

This article speculates that the space tourism industry will be worth $23 billion a year by 2030 - most of that from disrupting the long-haul flight market.

Prometheus questions Ken's logic but I rebuttal with: these people are quite ambitious with their hype aren't they? It is more difficult to get to space, and more expensive, than Mount Everest ($45,000) or Challenger Deep ($750,000). Why would space tourism be $23 Billion per year 9 years from now when Mount Everest Tourism isn't even $300 million a year? https://www.ucf.edu/pegasus/too-many-tourists/

My napkin math also says that at $50million per seat (that's what I saw for that Ohio billionaire going to ISS in 9months) to reach 23 billion per year means 460 seats per year.

There's 52 weeks in a year. We'd have to maintain a population on the ISS of +8 per week being cycled through like a cruise ship just to meet those quotas at current prices.

And if you lower the price you'll need even more people.

And frankly you're one accident away from killing 10+ scientists/mission specialists and 10+ tourists. 20 people blowing-up in space doesn't sound like good publicity. If you think that's far-fetched: https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1997-06-26-1997177014-story.html#:~:text=The bus-sized craft missed,itself%2C damaging an external radiator.

We almost blew-up the Mir with a docking accident.

Although one might argue it was intentional to get rid of the American module Spektr lol - I love conspiracy theories.

Death in space tourism is inevitable and I don't think anyone has figured out how to handle the PR of that inevitability. Since pretty much only billionaires can go into space, it is inevitable that billionaires will die there in an accident. And that will be a lot of powerful estate money to sue the hell out of you.

I'm all for figuring out solutions to problems, but we have to actually recognize the challenges that exist. I feel the space industry no longer recognizes realistic challenges. Ken has done a good job about pointing that out.

A last note, internal documents now show that very accurate data warned NASA leadership that the O-rings on Space Shuttle Challenger might rupture and the launch should be delayed. They were administratively overridden for time constraints.

So what's the odds that someday SpaceX or Axios or whoever will blow-up the wrong billionaire and that billionaire's survivors will sue the hell out of them for suppressing valid data to avoid a fatal launch accident.

At least NASA was untouchable. "For they do not purpose their deaths when they purpose their services." - Shakespeare.

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7 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

It is more difficult to get to space, and more expensive, than Mount Everest ($45,000) or Challenger Deep ($750,000). Why would space tourism be $23 Billion per year 9 years from now when Mount Everest Tourism isn't even $300 million a year?

It is much easier to get into space. I cannot physically climb to 29,000 feet altitude, but I can sit in a comfy chair as I rocket to 254 miles in altitude.

9 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

Death in space tourism is inevitable and I don't think anyone has figured out how to handle the PR of that inevitability.

I guess it will be pretty much the same as handling the PR of death in Mt. Everest tourism.

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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

I side with Ken Fabian who is quoted as saying SpaceX is unrealistic hype. But so is Axios and a few others as evidenced from this quote:

The facts are though, that despite any economic scenarios, despite the Earthly based problems we face,  despite the dangers etc, as we progress and technology improves, such dreams as colonies on the Moon, boots on Mars, and many more, far ambitious ventures, will always eventuate. 

Our continuing space endeavours will benefit mankind, just as that little balloon size satellite called Sputnik back in the late fifties greatly benefited mankind and still does.

Edited by beecee
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6 minutes ago, beecee said:

Our continuing space endeavours will benefit mankind, just as that little balloon size satellite called Sputnik back in the late fifties greatly benefited mankind and still does.

Maybe: as I struggle to find justifications for my deep sea station proposal I'm getting pretty intimate with what early space explorers must have felt finding reasons to be in space.

They found a reason in biotechnology research in microgravity.

"Space tourism" sounds cool and I would love to participate, but every space mission has had a very well designed purpose and most of them have centered around biotech. If other extreme-tourism industries are any indicator, space will likely be no different and fall flat in terms of revenue.

So my contribution here is that, yes, space exploration will expand at some pace. But I think the direction it is going now will fizzle out, it will continue to be a microgravity environment that expands space exploration.

There are plenty of enthusiasts, but how many of them push the furthest limits? Climb the highest mountains? Dive the deepest pressures on mixed gas? Etc. In terms of the last example, 250,000 UK divers by certification, less than 1,000 technical divers (dives on mixed gas) and half of those are for professional reasons i.e. they have a reason to be down there.

So, if diving is analogous to space in terms of effort...if not more effort...that should give you some example of the difference between the enthusiast (249,000+ divers) and the really interested (<1,000 divers).

I think that's an important distinction because if we are really trying to quantify an industry, that's the reality. Right now the "space tourism" industry is making money off people donating their enthusiasm.

If you told a person they had to quit their job, train one and a half years, be able to do 100 pull ups, be able to tolerate 9Gs and stay awake AND perform life saving maneuvers and procedures, and remember them all....most people will just as soon stay home and keep their money.

For that reason I think space tourism is a scam and am kind of disappointed governments are encouraging it.

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2 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

For that reason I think space tourism is a scam and am kind of disappointed governments are encouraging it.

Space tourism, for those that can afford it, is a small part of our technological advancement in space...exploration is part of human nature, or as corny as it may sound, "because its there" 

It's amazing to remember that the now defunct "Mars One" company, had in excess of 200,000 applicants for a one way trip to Mars.

 

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----------------------------------------------------------
That raises a consideration I would have. As a tourist, and as a pilot, I wouldn't want the person next to me to be deadweight. When Challenger exploded, the crew cabin survived At first the g-forces were so strong that they passed out. But, about 200,000 feet above the surface of the ocean, the crew woke-up and the recovery efforts have proven (though the exact details are classified) that the pilots "flew that crew cabin all the way until they hit that ocean."

Basically the tried to use what attitude control they did have to try and build enough drag that they could survive impact. They didn't.

Not just sad, but terrifying really.

I worked a plane crash recovery before, not pretty. Best description is it was like they (the victims) slipped out of their pajamas. When flying, pilots often put vicks vapor rub or similar product in the nose of their air masks because the are taught that as you catch fire the vicks will prevent it from distracting you so you can focus and try to self-rescue.

I'm definitely not trying to say we should not explore space, or even encourage tourism.

But I am saying that the realities are way different than what some eccentric billionaire blathers about on "Ted Talks".

In fact, a good point of risk is that Musk himself is not on any of his flights, even his first tourism flight. The guy, you might say, "know better."

So in summary, I think space tourism will fizzle out and is exposed to a dramatic end with an actual accident which then has to become subject to review.

And unfortunately, because it isn't government, the review won't be classifiable and the horrifying realities of a crash and especially a rocket accident will be made very vivid. Plane crashes aren't so vivid, and I think an space tourism will try to hide it all the same, but it will enter the public imagination and become pretty restrictive at that point.

Not a lot of people want to sign up for a 200,000 foot free fall in a partly flyable crew cabin trying to save their lives.

And Astronauts won't want dead weight along for the ride when someone in that seat might be the one to wake up from a G-force induced knock out and be able to bring the craft back under control.

I don't want a billionaire flying to space with me because he's rich.

I want this guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0nbRYIBVDQ

2 minutes ago, beecee said:

It's amazing to remember that the now defunct "Mars One" company, had in excess of 200,000 applicants for a one way trip to Mars.

None of them would go if they actually had to do the work it takes to get there, is kinda my point.

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Sadly, and Inevitably, and over the course of time,  we will have deaths and tragedies in our progressive advancement towards space and space exploration.

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Posted (edited)
54 minutes ago, zapatos said:

I guess it will be pretty much the same as handling the PR of death in Mt. Everest tourism.

Almost no death on Everest is investigated.

Any death in space will be investigated and by the NTSB in the US if any US citizens are on board, etc?

Regardless, that will be very public. And since it'll be the first, and great effort goes into no accidents, it'll also be highly scrutinized. Also, as you mentioned earlier, it is easier to go into space.

This is a false perception.

It is harder than going to Everest, but Everest gives you a more immediate feedback that tells you that you're in danger. Shortness of breath, hard beating heart, burning legs, all these say "do not continue, turn back."

Unfortunately in a rocket system you go from "comfy chair" to "something's wrong, figure it out in 5 seconds and apply the correct procedural fix" within a blink of an eye.

So either you compromise the survivability of the mission with "passengers", or you require passengers to know the systems and how to work them...neither choice are good for the tourism industry.

 

9 minutes ago, beecee said:

Sadly, and Inevitably, and over the course of time,  we will have deaths and tragedies in our progressive advancement towards space and space exploration.

Well, we already have, but they are seen as highly competent risk takers who are doing everything they can to achieve the mission.

I'm now thanks to this thread fascinated by the idea of how people's perceptions change when someone is just a tourist.

Edited by DeepSeaBase
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4 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

I don't think we have a russian made rocket supply chain? None of that makes sense. ULA and a few others are American based.

Why does the USAF need to give money to someone else to do what ULA is already doing?

ULA launch the Atlas rockets, which are the workhorse for American launches after the shuttle - including military payloads. They use Russian made RD-180 engines which cost about ~$10 million per launch and are non-reusable. 

ULA have been trying to get away from buying these engines from the Russian company NPO Energomash since at least 2014 but for whatever reasons have been unable. ULA also approached Blue Origin about developing new engines but have nothing serviceable yet. I guess the USAF are getting impatient with ULA on this so are looking elsewhere.

In this context the ~$80 million the USAF gave SpaceX in an attempt to move away from reliance on Russian companies seems money well spent. I raise this because government money going to SpaceX was generally characterised as being a frivolous waste going on some eccentric billionaire's pipedream of going to Mars. Government agencies are getting tangible benefits for their investments. 

 

33 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

Why would space tourism be $23 Billion per year 9 years from now when Mount Everest Tourism isn't even $300 million a year? https://www.ucf.edu/pegasus/too-many-tourists/

My napkin math also says that at $50million per seat (that's what I saw for that Ohio billionaire going to ISS in 9months) to reach 23 billion per year means 460 seats per year.

There's 52 weeks in a year. We'd have to maintain a population on the ISS of +8 per week being cycled through like a cruise ship just to meet those quotas at current prices.

And if you lower the price you'll need even more people.

I'm not an economist, but that estimate comes from UBS research, part of a Swiss investment bank that perform economist forecasts. I couldn't find a break down of how that figure was derived.

They wouldn't go to the ISS long-term, it's only got 4-8 more years left. SpaceX plan to launch tourists with the Starship currently being developed. Axiom, another company, plan to build a commercial space station starting in 2022 which will take tourists, amongst other revenues (e.g. research).

Then there are sub-orbital flights which can cut 15 hour flights to less than an hour, in addition to any 'pure' tourism value.

43 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

And frankly you're one accident away from killing 10+ scientists/mission specialists and 10+ tourists. 20 people blowing-up in space doesn't sound like good publicity. If you think that's far-fetched: https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1997-06-26-1997177014-story.html#:~:text=The bus-sized craft missed,itself%2C damaging an external radiator.

We almost blew-up the Mir with a docking accident.

Although one might argue it was intentional to get rid of the American module Spektr lol - I love conspiracy theories.

Death in space tourism is inevitable and I don't think anyone has figured out how to handle the PR of that inevitability. Since pretty much only billionaires can go into space, it is inevitable that billionaires will die there in an accident. And that will be a lot of powerful estate money to sue the hell out of you.

Yes, the first commercial disaster will be something. But i think people willing to launch into space won't be the timid type, so i'm not sure how much it will impact the industry long-term.

You can get tickets to space for $250k with Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin - accessible to millionaires.

 

52 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

I side with Ken Fabian who is quoted as saying SpaceX is unrealistic hype. But so is Axios and a few others as evidenced from this quote:

Like i said, that quote was from quite a reputable economic forecaster, independent of space industry. If you know of other reputable forecasts i'm interested in seeing them.

I understand people get annoyed at Musk's cheerleaders, but i think it's possible to go the other way and paint his ambitions as nothing but hot air. The truth, as usual, probably lies somewhere in between.

 

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Prometheus said:

ULA launch the Atlas rockets, which are the workhorse for American launches after the shuttle - including military payloads. They use Russian made RD-180 engines which cost about ~$10 million per launch and are non-reusable.

Awesome, I actually did not know this but now I do! Makes me wonder why we didn't just pay ULA to do it any differently? I mean decades ago...now that boat has kind of sailed.

 

5 minutes ago, Prometheus said:

SpaceX plan to launch tourists with the Starship currently being developed.

If SpaceX can bring the cost down to like ... $40,000 per seat for a meaningful visit (few days, a week?) I'd probably be more supportive of the tourism program myself.

Currently I'm probably just miffed that I'm getting older, a lot older, and all the cool stuff to do is being done by rich people who never worked a day in their life. Even the engineers building SpaceX rockets aren't the ones getting space-rides. And they are the reason that space-rides will even exist. Get my drift?

I'm very bitter at the idea of corporate effort // private gain.

If it takes 400,000 people to send one person into space, then the one person going into space better be the best person, not the richest person.

Edited by DeepSeaBase
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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

Almost no death on Everest is investigated.

Any death in space will be investigated and by the NTSB in the US if any US citizens are on board, etc?

But we're talking about PR here, not NTSB investigations.

 

15 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

This is a false perception.

It is harder than going to Everest, but Everest gives you a more immediate feedback that tells you that you're in danger.

No, it is not a false perception. It is the perception from my perspective, that of a user.

From your perspective it is also harder to order socks from Amazon than climb the tree in my yard because of all the difficult technology involved, but from my perspective I can order the socks in about 30 seconds without getting off the couch. Much easier than getting to the top of that oak tree.

15 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

So either you compromise the survivability of the mission with "passengers", or you require passengers to know the systems and how to work them...neither choice are good for the tourism industry.

 

You mean like how they teach all the passengers how to pilot a 747 before they are allowed to board the aircraft and begin their tour of Europe?

 

Edited by zapatos
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9 minutes ago, Prometheus said:

Like i said, that quote was from quite a reputable economic forecaster, independent of space industry. If you know of other reputable forecasts i'm interested in seeing them.

Challenge economic forecasters with commonsense.

I suppose though if you redefine space tourism to "suborbital transport" then you can justify the industry. There's actually a revenue stream unthought of by the reputable source.

Organ transport.

Highly time sensitive cold-chain dependent medical couriers will favor near-direct suborbital flights for 30minute transit times across the globe rather than long and complicated flight-patterns to get these precious medical materials from source to consumer.

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1 minute ago, DeepSeaBase said:

Challenge economic forecasters with commonsense.

 

I guess that is why the governments of the world and heads of businesses have commonsense advisors instead of economic advisors.

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

Awesome, I actually did not know this but now I do! Makes me wonder why we didn't just pay ULA to do it any differently? I mean decades ago...now that boat has kind of sailed.

I think it was a political move to keep ex-Soviet scientists from taking their expertise to places like North Korea and Iran. They're going to China now by the look of it.

 

23 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

If SpaceX can bring the cost down to like ... $40,000 per seat for a meaningful visit (few days, a week?) I'd probably be more supportive of the tourism program myself.

Currently I'm probably just miffed that I'm getting older, a lot older, and all the cool stuff to do is being done by rich people who never worked a day in their life. Even the engineers building SpaceX rockets aren't the ones getting space-rides. And they are the reason that space-rides will even exist. Get my drift?

I'm very bitter at the idea of corporate effort // private gain.

If it takes 400,000 people to send one person into space, then the one person going into space better be the best person, not the richest person.

Fair enough. Blue Origin will send their first passengers up this July - one ticket is up for auction, the other three tickets are gone to unknown people. Hopefully it will be some of the development team. 

Another way to think about this inspiration. In a world of war, famine and pandemics having a prominent person dreaming of going to Mars can help people look up and dream big. I know dreams can't power rockets or feed a family, but i think it is sorely under-valued - we can never achieve more than our dreams, so dream big, work hard and see where it takes us.

Edited by Prometheus
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4 minutes ago, zapatos said:

I guess that is why the governments of the world and heads of businesses have commonsense advisors instead of economic advisors.

Don't be facetious.

$23Billion / $50 million = 460 tourists per year.

If you lower the cost from $50 million to $5 million then you get 4,600 tourists per year.

These numbers are absurd assumptions. Starship, Blue Origins, etc, none of them propose anything that can conduct 460 seats per year let alone 4,600 seats.
 

This is one of those moments where commonsense says whoever the "reputable source is" got paid by the industry to fluff the numbers because no one is going to check them or hold them accountable.

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4 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

Don't be facetious.

 

Fine. Then don't counter referenced sources with 'common sense' on a science site.

6 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

These numbers are absurd assumptions.

Why would I believe you, some random guy on the internet, over a referenced source? If you want to make claims here you need to be willing to back them up with something more than your incredulity.

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, zapatos said:

Why would I believe you, some random guy on the internet, over a referenced source? If you want to make claims here you need to be willing to back them up with something more than your incredulity.

I did some simple math on their own numbers provided.

How much networth does someone need to have enough control over their own finances in order to justify a $5million expense? Most wealthy people have powers of attorney in case of accidents who most likely will declare them insane if they want to spend a sizeable chunk of family or estate wealth on a risky venture.

If a family has $25million dollars then dad decides to spend $5million, chances are his heirs have enough money to stop him and declare him mentally incapable. You think 3 children want to split $25million or split $20million? So at what point do rich children not have influence over their family's finances.

Most families at that level of wealth put their wealth into corporate entities so those entities are even more subject to stakeholders than someone with just $25million in the bank.
 

So I think anyone can identify a number of roadblocks to people throwing $5million at a tourist venture. So even at $5million a seat you have to be very wealthy to do it.

And that means 4,600 seats per year. At 10 passengers, that's almost 2 flights a day. What is the turn around of these rockets? Does it take a month? So you need a rolling stock of 60 reentry vehicles and the staff to do 2 per day?

I mean come on man, you give me a source, I have the ability to critique the source. The source seems to have ignored everything that actually exists in favor of some fantasy of "well it could happen."

I'm going to stand by the idea that no space company currently has the launch ability to send 4,600 seats into space and even then the price of $5million is so high they probably couldn't find enough people to pay that per year.

I think suborbital curier makes the most sense for added revenue stream.

Vaccines for instance, medical devices, medical materials. Very high value short lived cargo...

Edited by DeepSeaBase
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24 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

Most wealthy people have powers of attorney in case of accidents who most likely will declare them insane if they want to spend a sizeable chunk of family or estate wealth on a risky venture.

Citation please.

25 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

chances are his heirs have enough money to stop him and declare him mentally incapable.

Citation please.

26 minutes ago, DeepSeaBase said:

Most families at that level of wealth put their wealth into corporate entities

Citation please.

 

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Posted (edited)

How about you address the fact that to achieve $23Billion in revenue at $5million per seat you need to fly 4,600 seats per year. How about you just focus on that absurd prediction and stop hiding behind some non-technical, non-peer reviewed, opinion paper from a bank?

That's all I really want you to acknowledge is how do you think space tourism will achieve that kind of lift capacity?

Edited by DeepSeaBase
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How about you stop making claims that you are unwilling to support?

You are claiming that one of the reasons they will not be able to get the required number of passengers is because their heirs and lawyers can have them declared insane for wanting to spend a portion of their wealth on a trip to space instead of leaving it to their heirs.

That's a pretty bold legal claim. If you are going to use that as part of your argument you should be willing to back it up. "Just believe me" doesn't cut it.

 

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1 hour ago, zapatos said:

How about you stop making claims that you are unwilling to support?

You are claiming that one of the reasons they will not be able to get the required number of passengers is because their heirs and lawyers can have them declared insane for wanting to spend a portion of their wealth on a trip to space instead of leaving it to their heirs.

That's a pretty bold legal claim. If you are going to use that as part of your argument you should be willing to back it up. "Just believe me" doesn't cut it.

We're not having this discussion until you admit that you can't have a $23Billion industry ($23Billion as in profit) unless you earn $5million profit from each seat you sell which works out to 4,600 tourists a year.

An absurd number to claim possible in next 10 years, and at current accident rates would kill 460 passengers a year. (I detail this in a thread more appropriate for this whole side of the discussion)

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We will put boots on the Moon again, and establish a colony.

We will put boots on Mars.

We will accomplish even further exploration and more ventures such as mining....all in good time, when all can be done in relative safety.

I'm not concerned with anything else.

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