Casey ex Australia: Confronting the Credibility Gap for Crewed Exploration of Mars

To what extent are we responsible for the credibility gap? We should know better than anyone that there are real challenges that can’t be wished away, that Mars is hard, and that “all you gotta do” doesn’t really cut it when human lives are on the line. Yes, humans will die in space, and on the ground building space machines, but I’m sure we can all agree that we want to minimize people dying for stupid reasons. And so, as a couple of illustrative examples, I’m going to look at the titans of the movement and nitpick for a bit. First, Elon Musk’s suggestion that space radiation can be solved with a column of water between the astronaut and the sun. This only works if the column is of a comparable size to the gyroradius of protons in the solar magnetic field, which is a few thousand km. So, the pros sometimes make mistakes, as we saw with SpaceX’s last attempted launch. And then the original slides for Mars Direct, I saw as a kid when the Mars Direct book tour came to Australia, which suggested a first launch in 1997. We earn no credibility by pushing optimistic or aggressive timelines. Or, for example, our own Robert Zubrin’s oped in 2012 in the Washington Post, suggesting 3 Falcon Heavies to fly 2 humans to Mars, a mission plan that no expert I know hasn’t found a problem with. The Dragons are too heavy to land on Mars, and too crowded for people to live in, once all the provisions are also added, like Gemini but for 150 weeks instead of 2. It doesn’t pass the sniff test – it smells of desperation.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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So, does Mitchell make any money on the work, which has been shared so many times? He uploaded a high-res image of the symbol and granted permission for anyone to use it personally for free. But for those who want to support his work or simply want something readymade, you can also buy T-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, and journals emblazoned with the symbol through Threadless.“I really just want to spread the image as much as possible and cement it in history,” Mitchell says. “In all honesty, the amount I’ve made from my Threadless shop so far is still less than my hourly rate, so I don’t really see it as a big deal. If you look at my Twitter, half the replies are people wanting to know where they can buy a shirt. Threadless is happy to help them out with that, and so I’m happy to let that happen.”Now that the symbol has flooded our streets and our timelines, Mitchell just has one request: “Impeach this idiot already,” he says.

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This is a Waterloo moment for Trump, the tea party and their alliance. They have been stopped in their tracks not only by Democratic opposition but because of a mutiny within their own ranks. Although never particularly liked or respected, it is now clear that they are no longer feared. The bankruptcy of their ideas and their incompetence have been exposed. Their momentum has been dissipated. Their rejection of political norms has itself been scorned. Our long national nightmare may finally be coming to an end.

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