Category Archives: Colonization

Trailer for “Mars: Our Future on the red planet”

I came across this article today “HOW WILL WE GET TO MARS? NEW BOOK AND TV SERIES PROVIDE THE DETAILS” and now I am looking forward to the National Geographic series. This will be a six-part documentary series to be aired on the National Geographic Channel beginning November 14. The series is based on the book by space journalist Leonard David also titled, “Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet.”

The story being told is set in 2033 and tells of the fictional story of the first six humans and their mission to Mars. There is the drama of the three men and three women who take the journey to Mars interspersed with ‘flashbacks’ to the present with documentary footage on how technology evolved to enable the eventual mission to Mars.

This series will be of interest to any thinking about Mars and its eventual colonization. If you go to National Geographic Channel website you can watch the first hour and twenty minute episode of the series now.

Asgardia: The First Nation in Space(?)

This may not be the effort that succeeds, but I do believe that new “countries” will appear in space.


Igor Ashurbeiyli has some grand plans. His dream is to build a sovereign nation in orbit aboard a massive space station. Its citizens will be “free from the constraint of a land-based country’s laws” and must apply for citizenship.

Apparently Ashurbeiyli believes that science is too constrained by terrestrial laws and “economical and political considerations often take precedence over purely scientific
ones and ethical boundaries are considered necessary to sustain safety.” I don’t like to put words in peoples’ mouths, but it seems to me that he views things like ethics and morals to be things that are holding the human race back. His goal is that this country/station will eventually house 150 million people – yes, 150 million – and is looking to crowdfunding to help finance the endeavor.

Putting the whole “let’s throw out morals and ethics” argument to the side, let’s just take a quick look at the costs required…

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SpaceX ITS -Colonizing Mars

Yesterday (9/27/16) SpaceX announced its Interplanetary Transport System (ITS). This spacecraft will be capable of ferrying up to 100 tons of cargo to Mars. It will be capable of carrying up to 100 passengers at a time. Elon Musk of SpaceX said that ITS missions to Mars might begin as early at 2024.

The plan for the ITS and Mars relies on substantially lowering the cost of transportation. Towards this end many components of the system are designed to be reusable. The goal is to get the cost of transporting a human to Mar at $200,000 or less.

Musk in his presentation also stressed that this effort was not without risk. He emphasized that the first group headed to Mars would likely fatal accidents.

Only time will tell whether or not SpaceX will be able to fulfill these goals. They have been remarkably on track since their creation in 2002. Regardless of their success, the efforts that SpaceX is undertaking will move commercial space operations forward.

Further reading:

  1. Elon Musk envisions ‘fun’ but dangerous trips to Mars
  2. Elon Musk’s grand plan to colonize Mars
  3. Elon Musk on going to Mars — ‘The probability of death is quite high’
  4. Elon Musk: To join SpaceX’s first mission to Mars, you have to be ‘prepared to die’
  5. SpaceX chief envisions 1,000 passenger ships flying to Mars
  6. Elon Musk’s Mars Mission Revealed: SpaceX’s Interplanetary Transport System
  7. Elon Musk: A Million Humans Could Live on Mars By the 2060s

Space News #7


Many articles being published on space related topics. Here are a few that I thought were interesting.

Extraterrestrial First Contact Protocol

Yes we haven’t seen any signs that there are extraterrestrials, but that has not stopped consideration on how we should proceed with that first contact. In “Extraterrestrial First Contact in Space Protocols” retired USAF Major General Ken Wisian, currently with Galactic Ventures LLC of Austin, TX, considers how we should proceed when/if we encounter aliens.

This lengthy academic paper lays out a suggested procedure we should follow if we encounter other intelligent life. Key to his recommendations are: Introduction – approaching without seeming hostile; Current human protocols – encounters between terrestrial vessels;  Human History – results of encounters with indigenous peoples; and What should be in this Protocol – predictability, no hostility and communication.

Needless to say the article has generated quite a bit of discussion in the comments.

Moon Outpost

If and when humans travel again to the Moon with the intentions of setting up a camp, habitat is going to be needed. NASA, the ESA as well as private organizations are looking at 3D printing as one solution. More options to the use of 3D printing are explained in “Want to build a moon base? Easy—just print it“.

Third parties propose orbital platforms for Moon and Mars

Lockheed Martin has proposed a Mars orbiting station that can be put in place by 2028. Their proposal would provide accommodations for six astronaut-scientists. The station would be build around a pair of their Orion spacecraft. More details can be read in “Lockheed Martin Outlines Plan to Send Humans to Mars Orbit by 2028“.

A similar proposal by Orbital ATK would place an outpost in Lunar orbit by the end of this decade. This proposal uses the Cygnus spacecraft that is already being used to ferry supplies to the ISS. More on the proposal can be read in “New Space Station Orbiting The Moon By 2020 Announced“.

In either of these proposals, astronauts could do extensive, remote controlled robotic exploration as there would be near real-time control. I hope that one or both of these get funded.

The next Mars Rover

The next rover is planned for Mars in 2020. NASA is well into the design of the new rover at JPL. The engineers are taking advantage of the Augmented Reality provided by Microsoft HoloLens to complete their work. Using the HoloLens, engineers can see a mixture of real-world and computer generated objects. Read more.

NASA Wants You!


NASA has released another set of posters. These are recruitment posters enticing viewers to join the mission to Mars. They are all reminiscent of World War II posters. All eight of these new posters can be downloaded from the NASA web site in resolutions suitable for full poster size printing.

I like that NASA has been taking this approach. I am also a fan of the all of the posters that they have released so far. Some of these may well find their way onto my office wall one of these days.

The New Space Race: Elon Musk Will Beat Everyone to Mars

I agree with Mr Beyer that SpaceX seems to have the edge on the race to Mars. At the very least, the SpaceX announcements have spurred others to focus more seriously on Mars missions.

I think that we are once again entering an exciting time for space exploration.


A few weeks ago, Elon Musk announced his ambitious plan to have SpaceX send an unmanned Red Dragon capsule to Mars in 2018. Yesterday, he upped the ante, saying that he anticipates sending the first manned mission in 2024, which would arrive in 2025. There is still much that is unknown about Musk’s plans. All we know right now is that he is shooting for that 2018 launch when Earth and Mars are closest, then another mission every 26 months. The overall architecture for the venture might be revealed as early as September – one thing is for sure: the 21st century version of the space race is on…

Who is SpaceX Racing Against?

marsone3 copyA Dutch non-profit company called Mars One is also planning for a colony on Mars. Their road map calls  for crew training to begin next year with their first unmanned mission launching in 2020. A rover mission would…

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Space News #1 -VASIMR Engine, Colonization and Antimatter Starship

I came across these over the past pre days and thought they were interesting.



I thought that this was an interesting article about alternative propulsion systems “VASIMR ENGINE: THE FUTURE OF SPACE TRAVEL“. The VASIMR (Variable Specific Impulse Magneto plasma Rocket) engine is being developed by the Ad Astra Rocket Company.

The VASIMR uses electromagnetic propulsion. It is only usable in the vacuum of space, so it will not be applicable to launching space craft. A neutral gas is heated to a high temperature in the engine. A magnetic field focuses the resulting exhaust providing the thrust.

While these engines bring the promise of long lifetimes, they also require significant electrical power for generation of the magnetic field. These may have a place on future space vehicles, but there are still many obstacles in the way of deployment.


While we are no where near ready to launch a colonization effort, thought has been given to how we should proceed. The article “A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO PLANET COLONIZATION” gives a good high level outline as to what will be needed.

I thought that it was significant that an estimated 20,000-40,000 people will be needed to establish a sustainable colony. To me this says that a true colony will take decades to establish once the effort finally begins.

In our solar system the only viable locations would be Mars, or perhaps the moons of Jupiter or Neptune (they talk about having about 50 locations in mind).

Antimatter Starship

Certainly we have all heard referenced to antimatter in episodes of Star Trek. Hbar Technologies plans to bring antimatter propulsion out of science fiction and put it to use. They will be using Kickstarted to raise $200,000 to fund the next stage of their development effort. The concept was originally developed for NASA, but was dropped because of budget constraints.

The scientists involved in the project firmly believe that their design is feasible. They believe that their antimatter propulsion system could accelerate a space craft up to 1-% of the speed of light in only a year. While this is not going to open up passenger excursion to nearby stars, it would enable long-term exploration missions to be planned.

Read more in the article “Antimatter Starship Scheme Coming to Kickstarter“.

Colonizing the Moon, SETI, Planet 9 and Hunt for Exoplanets


A few things that I came across this week.

The article “We Can Colonize the Moon by 2022—and for Less than the Cost of an Aircraft Carrier” raises a good point – colonizing the Moon could be done relatively cheaply (as far as government projects goes). $10 Billion spent on a 6 year project could see a colony on the Moon.

That $10 Billion sounds like a lot, but the new  aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, which is scheduled to be completed this year, is expected to cost $12.5 Billion.

Many of the technologies already developed could be employed constructing a Moon colony

  • Autonomous vehicles
  • 3D printing
  • Inflatable habitat modules

Why choose the Moon, because it is a great staging location for more elaborate missions. A base or colony there could operate much in the same way the bases located on Antartica operate.


SETI announced that it will be changing it’s search pattern to include about 20,000 older, red dwarf stars. These red dwarf stars make up about 75% of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy. This decision was made because recent research has indicated that planets around red dwarfs have oceans and atmospheres. The plan is to use the Allen Telescope Array in Northern California.  This is a 42 antenna radio telescope array located about 300 miles northeast of San Francisco. SETI astronomers think the survey will take about two years to complete.


We may soon have a ninth planet again in the Solar System. Confirmation of the planet has not occurred yet, but the evidence is mounting in favor of it’s existence. New evidence stemming from the motion of objects in the Kuiper Belt imply that a heretofore unknown ninth planet may exist.

Don’t expect to get a glimpse of this new planet anytime soon. The planet, if it exists, is well beyond the Kuiper Belt (which ranges from 30 AU to 50 AU from the Sun) and is thought to have an orbit around the Sun of  about 10,000 years.


There have been a steady stream of exoplanets being announced over the past few years. In a few years the rate of announcements should increase. NASA and the NSF are working with a team of astronomers to build a new instrument, the NN-EXPLORE Exoplanet Investigations with Doppler Spectroscopy (NEID). This three year project is funded for $10 million. Unlike the other instruments being used to find exoplanets, this one will be terrestrial. When completed it will be installed at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.

The instrument will be hunting for exoplanets by measuring the “wobble” of the sun that they orbit around. This “wobble” is caused by the gravitational affect of the orbiting planets. The amount of “wobble” will indicate the possible planet size. Once suns with “wobble” are identified, the space based instruments will be used to focus on the system for further information.

More on EM Drive and NASA Looking at Inflatable Habitats


A couple of articles caught my eye this week regarding Space. The first deals with the EM drive, a type of electromagnetic thruster. The other deals with NASA testing an expandable habitat module on the ISS.

I have written a couple of times (see ‘Propulsion’ in tag cloud) about the EM drive in recent months. There is still no official word on accepting the EM drive as working physics. However NASA’s Eagleworks Laboratories is reported to have a paper on the controversial drive going through the peer review process. If the article makes it through to publication, it will mean that at least there seems to be something to the theory.

You can read more about the EM drive in “EmDrive: Nasa Eagleworks confirms paper on controversial space propulsion is under peer review“. While I have high hopes for this propulsion system proving itself, there has not yet been any accepted data that the concept is valid.

The next SpaceX resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) scheduled for early April will carry along an experimental habitat module. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) which is an expandable capsule that will attach to the ISS. The module as delivered will be a 7.75′ diameter 5.7′ deep cylindar. When it is expanded it will roughly be 12′ deep and 10.5′ in diameter. While this may not sound like much, the module will grow from about 270 cubic feet to 1040 cubic feet.

Once the capsule is attached, it will be expanded then pressurized. Astronauts will enter the module and place various instrumentation aboard that will measure structural integrity, leakage, radiation exposure and temperature over the two years of the study. If these modules prove themselves, then that opens the door to habitat modules for space, Mars or other exploration opportunities to be transported then expand in place.

Interesting Discussion of Why to Colonize Titan


I cam across this article (CAN WE COLONISE TITAN?) today on why we should consider colonizing Titan. As we consider where to expand in our solar system this looks to be at least at inviting as Mars. True the distance is far greater – which means we need to develop better propulsion systems – but Titan seems to have a lot of off setting benefits.