Is that the best way to colonize mars?


@ Tobi_Foong by saying “Make full scale Mars mission simulation…” i ment make it on real spaceship/space station away from planetary surface. The purpose is to simulate trip time in real conditions (no gravity, radiation, micrometeorites, all hardware support issues, repairs…etc. Its impossible to test all of that on Earth. And if You do it in LEO or near Moon you can still save a crew and even equipments if something goes wrong.

@ JohnnySpacer yes i know that and its great. And probably we need more such a projects as well. But we need Mars mission simulation in real space environment (trip to and back). Maybe even land on Moon and staying there (it would be the closest environment as we can get).


Going somewhere else (out of earth) keep in mind we are designed to born and live on Earth. So if we wish to go and live somewhere else we have at least two options. Change destination environment or change our body to match destination environment. We cant teraform moon or mars at current tech level so at least we can make some closed earth-like ecosystems (maybe).
And if we choose to change our body…well it should be very very drastic augmentation (cyborg, genetic changes, etc). Is it the same species? Is it human at all ? But maybe it’s the only way to truly colonize solar system.
But that’s another topic :slight_smile:


The only unvarnished improvement I see there is launching and fueling a tanker before the crew launch.

The author does not show how his proposed habitat module would achieve a parking orbit (it would need its own heat shield, or would need an engine to slow it down). The idea also complicates the construction and deployment of the vessel, which otherwise would be a single, albeit huge, hull.

I don’t doubt that the proposed change would solve several problems, but also it creates many others and fails to address the new challenges that come with them.


I don’t disagree with the idea of creating a fully closed-loop simulation, but trying to do it in space would make it 100 times more expensive than a ground based simulation. Or put another way, for the same money you could do 100 simulations if you didn’t try to do it in space.


Sure its more expensive. That’s true you can make 100x more simulation on the surface. But even if you do 1000 more you will never get essential data as you can get from spaced one. As well you cant test some tech too. At least some tech should be tested in the real environment (or as close as possible).
I think its an inevitable stage otherwise real mission to Mars will be more like "death lottery’ but not risky endeavor.


Right, it’s a process really. Start with fully closed-loop ground demonstrations. Then do orbital versions. You wouldn’t want to start with the expensive, orbital stuff if you can’t even hack the ground stuff.


But we have had at least 4 ground simulations some with hundreds of crews going through them…

A Spaced version can test things like spin gravity at 1/3 and 1/6 g and see if it is enough. its almost incredulous that 50 years after the moon missions we still don’t know what 1/3 or 1/6 g spin gravity does to the human body.


Huh… Wouldn’t the Lil’ BFR bring up the components in its cargo bay farings… Maybe Max 5 launches should do it? I don’t get what you mean by needing heat shields.


In regard to simulations, fully closed atmosphere ground simulations, complete with plants, are few and far between.

You speak truly on the spin gravity. It’s way overdue. A prototype artificial gravity ship would be a nice first step.


I’m trying to maintain reusability. If you’re building a habitat in orbit for every crewed mission, you’re not going to see any of the cost savings given by reflight (which was the whole point of the BFR). So in order to keep things affordable you would have to take measures to try and bring the habitat back with you to Earth.

But if you’re trying to do what the author proposed (to reduce launch mass from Mars), you would also have to avoid bringing the habitat down to the surface, and it would need to have a way to break into a parking orbit at Mars. That means either the habitat needs a heat shield or it needs to be repacked and the crew transferred to the ship just before reaching Mars. Then it would have to be unpacked and left in a parking orbit while the crew lands. And finally, it would need to be packed again for the journey to back Earth just after launching from Mars (so that it can be accelerated by the ship’s engines).

That’s an awful lot of hassle, and places for things to go wrong. It would be much simpler to stay on the ship. You might be able to justify something like that for a longer journey, like a trip to titan… maybe.

I hope that explains.


I think the proposal is for the habitat to always stay in orbit either earth orbit or mars orbit… Only the Lil BFR lands…


Dam those money. Faulx is right. They are dream killers. I’m afraid with Lil BFR the story could be the same :frowning: I just hope i am wrong.
The Tobi_Foong’s thought reminds me bout ocean cargo barge they are always stays in waters…
So maybe an idea to build space “barge” isn’t so dump. In particular if we start to use Moon as a fuel production and refueling station for those barges. And starting to use thermal-nuclear propulsion system to get to Mars under ~60 days. Then no need of “artificial gravity”, the radiation dose is received during the trip will be much less, etc.
So It can be that the moon industrialization and building such a “barge” in Moon orbit would be main key to establish permanent transportation road to the Mars.

Deep Space Gateway, Boeing’s concept of in orbit Mars habitat (like a space “barge” prototype) maybe all of those are necessary parts of the bigger infrastructure which will allow us to set up permanent road to the Mars :slight_smile:


From the article:

  • “…those restaurants and toilets and sleeping bunks and galleys will only be used in the orbital and Earth-to-Mars space portion of the trip. For all those launches and landings and re-entries, they’re just dead weight… We’ll do this by removing all of the major in-flight crew support systems and amenities and putting those into a separate Hab module that would get launched once and spend the rest of its life in space…”

But in order to be used by the travelers on the BFR, it would need to travel with the BFR. For that, It would either use the BFR’s engines and heatshields or have its own. So, basically he wants to use the BFR as a tug which carries a habitat ship around and that can also take people up and down at the destination. Or he wants the Habitat ship to be completely separate and the BFR is both a fuel tanker for the habitat and a ferry for people to and from the surface.

Either way, we now have 2 ships, one of which cannot be maintained or resupplied on the ground (ground maintenance is cheaper). It just seems to me that he has failed to consider the cost implications of such a design.


…"(ground maintenance is cheaper)"… It’s cheaper if you not add a landing and taking off costs. But of cause it depends on what kind of repair(maintenance) will needed.
Anyway you are right bout some details are not clear at this moment. Most likely mission plan for Mars will be detailed more than once or even will get substantially changes.


Yes, I think the proposal is to have a “Barge” for humans to be able to survive space travel for for 6-9 months. ie it provides gravity and radiation protection, and mental health(gravity toilets, personal space, restaurants, exercise, recreation)
Yes the BFR would be the engine that tows the barge between planets, and parks it in orbit. and would also be the link between the barge and the surface. Not sure why you again mention the heat shielding as heat shielding is only needed for atmospheric ablative reentry which the Barge will never do, as it will forever sit in space, either in orbit or in transit. in terms of repair, I don’t see there would be much repair needed for the Barge. It would already be tough enough for Radiation and micrometeorites, it would also have a fully self sustaining air/water recycling system (better than ISS I am sure)

Who knows there may even be a skeleton staff on board at all times while in planetary orbits although this is probably not needed. Ie it would be empty while in orbit. It would then have a surplus of solar energy which it could beam down to the colony as supplemental energy source.

I could see it initially being a base of operations from space. The people living/working on it first as they control landed colony building materials and machines, robots, from space until all the infrastructure (habitats, solar arrays, power plants, fuel manufacturing depot) are built. then the BFR can ferry batches of humans down.

Of course the current SpaceX idea of sending 6 BFR also works :slight_smile: but is probably less comfortable with a higher risk of injury (lack of transit gravity and radiation protection) and higher fuel costs (but that’s a minor consideration)


Sorry, it seemed obvious to me. I’ll try to explain.

If a ship is going to Mars, it will arrive at the planet with substantial velocity. If the ship plans to park in orbit, it must slow down; otherwise, it will simply fly past the planet. Because using fuel to slow down is less mass-efficient than doing an aerobreaking maneuver (even if you do not plan to land), a heatshield is useful. Aerobreaking without a heatshield is possible, but typically requires fuel and an engine for an initial slow down followed by several months and hundreds of small breaking passes that do not transfer much heat to the vessel (this would possibly delay crew disembarkation).

The BFR ship itself is supposed to do 98% of its slowing down using aerobreaking, so it wont have fuel available to pull itself, or anything else, into a parking orbit (it has just enough fuel to land). Thus, I assume a separate habitat would need a heatshield of its own for breaking into orbit.

Having a station in orbit could definitely have some benefits, but you’d have to be able to resupply it. Nothing is 100% recyclable. Using ISS vapor compression distillation technology only 94.5% of water is recycled; it would take an additional lyophilization system to (theoretically) bring that up to near 98%; and that last 2% would take even more systems adding more mass, spare parts, and complexity.

I wish this were the case. Onboard mechanical systems will ultimately break down, and every micrometeorite that hits leaves permanent damage. Eventually, things will need refurbishment.

I say these things not to tear the idea apart, but rather to suggest that such a plan doesn’t mesh well with the BFR mission design.

The barge/habitat idea fits much better into the “cycler” mission design, where lots of mass, shielding, spare parts, and extra recycling systems wouldn’t be a problem, and where the cycler’s “free return” trajectory allows reuse every time the cycler swings back past Earth (no tug or aerobreaking required).


Re Heat shielding, Ok Now i get where you are coming from thank you for explaiing.
Aerobreaking is one way to get to Mars and you are right, that is the way SpaceX intends to use the BFR because it is the quickest way. However, there are several other ways to do it that takes slightly longer. and some can take more fuel and others can take less fuel and more time and yet others gets you to a very high orbit, or into Lagrange points etc… My point is that I assume that with a barge they would choose the appropriate insertion path to Mars so that the Barge can be parked in orbit. My turn to apologize for not being clear :slight_smile:

Re Water recycling, It wouldn’t be any different if it was a Space Barge or a BFR… it would still need to be done. The Barge methodology will probably allow for better (maybe larger) more efficient systems to be included.

Re Maintenance, Again the larger and more robust purpose built Barge will need much MUCH less maintenance than a BFR that not only transit but goes through the stresses of reentry and take off.
Yeah we may need to fix the exercise bike in the rec room … fairly often… but …its not a life threatening requirement… well may be if its some celebrity that NEEDS to use it or she will be too flabby when she gets to Mars !!

Re The cyclers… But the Cyclers will be at least 10-100 times bigger and better than our Little ol Space Barge!!


surely we will likely see more than one option treid over the years to come. they all have merits in amount of mass to fuel ratios and time to fuel ratios etc. i think the biggest mistake that could be made would be to fix us into a one solution for all type mentality. There is no reason for cargo to need a fastest possible transit. if we are able to plan in advance enough surely big possbily slow moving nbut fuel efficient transport system (maybe with a small crew?) would work. where as pepole want to go to mars not earth-mars space so proberbly want faster options. Of course we can start planning that stuff but first we need to get the first boot on the ground and get the science etc on the go … a long with small sustainable habitats … i really can’t see us having a very large presance on Mars until the last quater of this century. not for lack of technology or volunteers just lack of funding … lets face it unless it is funded by the private sector … and what profit is there for them at the moment in getting such funding … govenments (all of them) move very slowly … maybe this will change if another space race starts but with a good number of govenments working with each otrher for ISS (including the two space/moon race antagonisits) i can’t see that happensing (maybe if China gets some skin in the Mars game). I think we can expect to orbital and lunar habitats much sooner which will of course have all the benefits of test and build tech reletively ‘close’ to home and help. I hope i’m proved wrong.


No Tim_McConnell You are not wrong. You are dam right by saying lets face a reality. The lack of funding probably are the main killer.
I wish back to the Moon and lunar orbit a bit. We need to start industry on the Moon. Fuel production, at least some parts for space ships and it can be a lot more massive and way bigger by volume.
Of course, such investments would be huge but that isn’t just for Mars mission. With our current technologies we can even build lunar space elevator. It would be nice to have space factories on the Moon. and turns out it can be more cheaper. Plus you have free testing environment outside.
Such an infrastructure would enables humanity to explore deep space and reach the Mars and others inner Solar system objects.
In summary Moon infrastructure is stepping stone if we want to colonize Mars.
Still we need at least few hundreds of billions to begin with but hey ISS 100+ billions…USA annual defense budget ~700 billions… etc. So money is enough just something else is wrong.


I have had a look at the Mars Mission compared with the Moon Missions… I think i have said it somewhere before… maybe here or some where else… But a clear difference between Mars and the Moon is that the Moon will always be dependent on earth while Mars has the potential of being a self sufficient colony. This is in terms of raw materials/elements needed for human life. So yes the Moon can be a great outpost of earth to get to the rest of the solar system and it should be developed and realized as such… But it can not sustain life if something bad happens to earth. While Mars can carry on by itself if something does happen to earth… so its primary function to provide that Humanity Backup is of utmost importance and needs to be in place ASAP !!

Luckily we don’t have to choose… We have Musk doing Mars and Bezos doing Moon.