NASA an independent Agency with 20,000 civil service employees and over 60,000 sub-contractors is in search of a mission. Since the Apollo program and the demise of the space shuttle, there are not many accomplishments to show for justifying its now 19.5 billion dollar budget. It got so bad, that for the past years after the demise of the space shuttle, the agency was not able to supply our astronauts in the International Space Station and had to rely on the Russians— as well as private contractors — to do it.
So instead, why not send a man to Mars? According to The Wall Street Journal, NASA is working on a new Orion Space Launch System with Boeing and Lockheed Martin as the main contractors. This will be a mammoth rocket heavy enough to send men to outer space. A Boeing spokesperson said, "The possibility of NASA putting humans into the vicinity of the moon and onto Mars is exiting."
Not to be outdone, Mr. Musk and his team will try with their Space-X Rocket to do the same.
Their ambition is, according to The Wall Street Journal, " . . . within a few years to take humans around the moon and eventually land settlers on Mars."
Who will pay the 20 billion plus dollar price tag? You, the taxpayer, of course.
Living on Mars has been the stuff of fiction and the dreams of not so young children. Cashing in on this public mystique enticed NASA to research Mars by having their sub-contractors built un-manned space probes to Mars yielding impressive scientific results.
Admittedly, this is a great public relations job vis-a vis the Russians and Chinese. Unfortunately, all data so far indicated that Mars is inhabitable not only for humans but also for tiny microbes.
- There is virtually no oxygen to breathe. However there is 96 percent CO2 gas and the atmosphere is very dusty (sand storms).
- You must be living in a virtual vacuum, since the pressure is only 0.087 pounds per square inch (compared to 14.7 pounds per square inch on earth).
- There are only traces of water. If they are found, they are briny. Even if you synthesize water from CO2, which is very energy-demanding, the water would evaporate immediately in the open due to the vacuum present
- Winds at the poles can reach 250 miles per hour
- The mean annual temperatures are -82 Fahrenheit
- There is no way to produce food
Worst of all is the extremely high radiation level of 76 megarays per year. Unprotected life could only exist if one would live 25 feet below the surface.
To get to Mars which is 34 million miles away, it would take a minimum of 1.6 years, even if you could travel at 20,000 miles per hour. However to get there, one has to cross the high ghly radioactive Van Allen Belt.
The outer layer of the belt at between 20,000 and 40,000 km above the Earth can have peak radiation levels of 500 million volts, which would need 5.5 inches of lead shielding to prevent harm A three-meter-diameter space capsule would need about 45 tons of lead to line the inside walls. No wonder, NASA is planning on building an enormous rocket, one which can lift 130 tons into space at a cost of $ 600 million per liftoff.
One question persists. Why is it so difficult now to have man circle the moon? After all, it wasable to be done in December of 1968. At that time, three U.S. astronauts circled the Moon 10 times, returning to Earth.
Hans Baumann is a licensed engineer in four states and a member of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. He is an adviser to the dean of the University of New Hampshire Business School. Dr. Baumann has published manuals on valves and was a contributor to many works including the "Instrument Engineers' Handbook" and the "Control Valves Handbook." He has also published several books on business management and German history, including "Hitler's Escape," which suggests that Adolf Hitler did not commit suicide and survived World War II. In his latest book, "Atomic Irony" he proves that the Hirshoma Atom Bomb contained captured German Uranium. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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