Monday, 18 March 2019

Research: Mission to Mars


Before I began looking at A Brief History of the Future by Charles Joynson, I was reading Robert Zubrin’s book Entering Space, subtitled Creating a Spacefaring Civilization. I wrote a couple of posts on what he said about Mars, Mars Direct and The Mars Society.

Now A Brief History of the Future has got to speaking of Mars too. A mission was launched in 2071.

Isolation

To keep the astronauts from feeling isolated on the ten-month mission to Mars, they set up a connection so that:
… anyone on Earth with a webcam and internet access could ask an astronaut, cosmonaut or taikonaut a question, leave words of encouragement or make useful suggestions. Insults or negative comments were screened out by AIs and the travellers spent much of their time each day answering questions with a camera bot following them as they spoke and worked.
Exercise
As we have already seen in our day with the International Space Station, astronauts need to exercise for long periods to counter the effects of zero gravity, so the craft had a ten metre internal wheel which rotated fast enough to simulate gravity. The author comments that the wheel was internal because external wheels favoured by science fiction writers are far too dangerous.

Shielding

One of the hazards of space travel is radiation. Charles Joynson suggests that the water tank was used as a shield against a lethal coronal mass ejection. Originally it had a very cramped space inside the tank, but later they either filled the internal wheel with water or shaped the water tank like a dish and turned the ship to face the sun during a mass ejection so the tank shielded them.

Crew
The First
The crew of the Mars mission comprised ten stable compatible couples, including two gay couples, all childless. Everyone was a scientist, engineer, doctor or technologist. If you watched the Channel 4 series The First, you will have had insights into the problems of finding suitable crewmembers. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it. It's about the preparation for the first mission to Mars, not about the mission itself, and stars Sean Penn.

Reality
SpaceX Headquarters
According to Wikipedia, missions to Mars are currently being planned or developed by the United States, the European Space Agency, India, Japan, China and Russia, and by Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX.

Ann Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, and book two Alien Secrets, are out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz











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