Elon Musk's Starship may be more moral catastrophe than bold step in space exploration

Elon Musk’s Starship may be more moral catastrophe than bold step in space exploration
An artist concept of the Starship following separation from the first stage Super Heavy. Credit: SpaceX/flickr

Elon Musk, founder of private space-faring company SpaceX, recently unveiled his new Starship craft. Amazingly, it is designed to carry up to 100 crew members on interplanetary journeys throughout the solar system, starting with Mars in 2024.

The announcement is exciting, invoking deep emotions of hope and adventure. But I can't help having a number of moral reservations about it.

Musk has declared a fascinatingly short time line to achieve orbit with this rocket. He wants to build four or five versions of the vehicle in the next six months. The first rocket will do a test launch to 20km within a month, and the final version will orbit the Earth.

Whether this is possible remains to be seen. Bear in mind that in the early 1960s when the then US president, John F Kennedy, announced the race to the moon, it took nearly a decade to achieve and several crew members died during the testing phases.

Despite this, it has been an important goal since the beginning of the space age for people to travel between planets—helping us to explore, mine and colonize the solar system.

Planetary protection

There are many reasons to believe SpaceX will succeed. The company has been extremely impressive in its contribution to space, filling a gap when government agencies such as NASA could not justify the spending. It's not the rocket technology that I doubt, my concern is mainly astrobiological.

If life exists elsewhere in our universe, the solar system is a good place to start looking—enabling us to touch, collect and analyze samples in a reasonably short time. Along with some of Jupiter's and Saturn's moons, Mars is one of the top contenders for hosting some sort of microbial life, or for having done so in the past.

However, there is a risk that microbe-ridden humans walking on the red planet could contaminate it with bugs from Earth. And contamination may threaten alien organisms, if they exist. It may also make it impossible to figure out whether any microbes found on Mars later on are Martian or terrestrial in origin.

A mission to return samples from Mars to Earth is expected to be completed by the early 2030s, with all the collection work completed by sterilized robots. While such missions pose a certain risk of contamination too, there are rigorous protocols to help minimize the chance. These were initiated by the Outer Space Treaty in 1967 and must be followed by anyone in the , governmental or non-governmental entities alike.

Can we be confident that, while pushing the boundaries of human exploration in such a short time frame, corners won't be cut or standards won't be allowed to slip? It will be considerably harder to follow these protocols once humans are actually on the planet.

If SpaceX was serious about planetary protection, I would expect to see a policy on its website, or easily found by searching "SpaceX ." But that isn't the case. So while it is possible that it has a rigorous planetary protection plan in place behind the scenes, its public-facing content seems to suggest that pushing the boundaries of human exploration is more important than the consequences of that exploration.

Musk doesn't seem too worried about contamination. He has alluded to the concept of panspermia, the idea that Mars and Earth have exchanged material or even life in the past due to asteroid impacts anyway. In the recent video above, he also says: "I don't think some Earth-based bacterium is going to be able to migrate much through Mars" and "if there is any life, it will be very deep underground." But he simultaneously argues that we can excavate to make room for humans underground on Mars, where they would be shielded from radiation.

Elon Musk’s Starship may be more moral catastrophe than bold step in space exploration
Mars photographed by the Opportunity rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ

Other moral issues

Another issue is the health of the humans are being sent out to Mars. Deep space is not without its dangers, but at least working in low Earth orbit, on the moon and the International Space Station, the Earth's magnetic field offers some protection from harmful space radiation.

Mars doesn't have its own magnetic field and its atmosphere provides little shelter from cosmic radiation. Astronauts would also be exposed to deep radiation for the minimum six-month journey between planets.

Though plenty of work is being conducted, radiation protection technology is a long way behind other aspects of rocketry. I'm not sure that it is fair or ethical to expect astronauts to be exposed to dangerous levels of radiation that could leave them with considerable health problems—or worse, imminent death.

Add to that the environmental impact of these missions, which release a lot of carbon dioxide, if they become frequent.

So while there is obviously a lot to gain from sending humans to Mars, the risks of contaminating Mars, injuring astronauts and damaging the environment are very real. I would argue that it is our moral obligation to prevent such damage. I hope SpaceX is putting as much thought into this as it has into its launch vehicles, and I would like to see this become a priority for the company.

Once we have better radiation shielding and have proven that Mars is entirely inhospitable, albeit a very difficult thing to do, it will most likely be an adventure worth embarking on. But at the very least, the company should hold off sending people to Mars until we have the results of the upcoming life detection missions, such as the Mars Sample Return and ExoMars rover.

Until then the moon is a great target for human exploration, resource mining and colonization. As it is nearby and we can be reasonably confident that it does not harbor life, why not start there?

Regardless of the thrill and feelings of hope this kind of adventure brings, just because we can do something, doesn't mean we necessarily should, now or in the future.


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Musk unveils SpaceX rocket designed to get to Mars and back

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Oct 02, 2019
Until then the moon is a great target for human exploration, resource mining and colonization. As it is nearby and we can be reasonably confident that it does not harbor life, why not start there?
Umm, it's currently harboring some water bears (tardigrades). Maybe the moon is too close to be considered part of "outer" space with respect to the Outer Space Treaty?

Oct 02, 2019
Haven't read such collection of nonsense in a long time.

"if there is any life, it will be very deep underground." But he simultaneously argues that we can excavate to make room for humans underground


Is this what passes for a logical argument in the author's mind? I don't even know how to respond..

Oct 02, 2019
"if there is any life, it will be very deep underground." But he simultaneously argues that we can excavate to make room for humans underground
Is this what passes for a logical argument in the author's mind? I don't even know how to respond..
The author is quoting Musk who provided sound rationale for the conjecture based on the adverse conditions for life on the surface of Mars, specifically mentioning (iirc) the radiation and temperature.

Oct 02, 2019
So let's stop exploring mars and join the old geezers in the Vatican who have obstructed science.

Oct 02, 2019
The author is quoting Musk who provided sound rationale for the conjecture based on the adverse conditions for life on the surface of Mars, specifically mentioning (iirc) the radiation and temperature.


I know that, what I mean is using this as an argument against building underground colonies on Mars. It is incoherent.

Oct 02, 2019
You can't use a telescope or microscope to find right and wrong. Don't use anthropocentric morality to justify anti-anthropocentric agendas. You might as well get mad at the first life to move on to dry land yelling about how it spoiled the clean landmasses.

I'd like to think we will become the kind of people who do our due diligence to safe guard destroying any living habitats while growing, especially on the rock we currently sit on. However some people would even prioritize a sterile environment over our own expansion and that's fine, just don't whinge if you get your way and our species dies out because y'all wanted to leave some rocks alone.

Oct 02, 2019
I see the constipation isnt above a little clickbait. I know, its rough out there-
by Samantha Rolfe, The Conversation

-moral catastrophe... perhaps you would want to leave metaphysical discussions to the idiot philos on your team-

Oct 02, 2019
"So while there is obviously a lot to gain from sending humans to Mars, the risks of contaminating Mars, injuring astronauts and damaging the environment are very real."

-I recommend we name the first mars starship the 'Don Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca'

-you know, for the queen.

Oct 02, 2019
As usual fox has it first and best

"In a startling interview, NASA's Planetary Science Division director Jim Green, Ph.D., has said the space agency is close to "making some announcements" about finding life on Mars — but that we're not ready for it.

""It will be revolutionary," Green said in an interview with The Telegraph. "It's like when Copernicus stated 'no we go around the Sun.' Completely revolutionary. It will start a whole new line of thinking. I don't think we're prepared for the results. We're not.""

-Get out the bug spray.

Oct 02, 2019
"He has eluded to the concept..."
'eluded'

I just can't.

Oct 02, 2019
If Astronauts are fully explained the known risks of space travel, and choose to go through this mission on their own volition then I can't see it being much of a moral question of their health. Of course we want to make it as easy on their body and mind as possible, but to use that to argue that we should maybe not go is crazy.

People have free will to make decisions, we should not be penalizing them for making a bold decision that may affect their personal health but bring great value to all man kind. That's crazy.

Oct 02, 2019
The primary function of evolution is - adapt or die.
It's a dictum throughout the observable universe.
Any microbes barely surviving for billions of years, on a starvation diet, on a planet that shows no opportunity for evolving any time soon, need an evolutionary kickstart (or extinction).
I say go to Mars, Elon.
Just don't bring any of those hungry critters back to Earth...


Oct 02, 2019
The author is quoting Musk who provided sound rationale for the conjecture based on the adverse conditions for life on the surface of Mars, specifically mentioning (iirc) the radiation and temperature.
I know that, what I mean is using this as an argument against building underground colonies on Mars. It is incoherent.
I think the author has missed the point of the adverb 'very' in the phrase 'very deep'. He is talking excavations of some 50 meters, likely. Musk is alluding, on the other hand, to some kind of extremophile microbes kilometers underground. He may be wrong, but his point is that if Mars' endogenous bugs couldn't evolve to make a life for themselves above, then terrestrial germs are hardly going to survive long enough to establish a base-camp of ecosystems to mount a migration to the nether underworlds.

In short, there will be two non-overlapping populations, the lower one staying effectively uncontaminated.

Oct 02, 2019
As the current bunch of Moon enthusiasts will find, the Moon is a large chunk of anorthosite with some rather large, basaltic lava flows on the near side. It is covered by regolith, the composition of which includes a high percentage of talc-sized glass particles. These particles adhered to most things due to static electrical charge and were quickly foiling the mechanical joints on the Apollo space suits.

A return to the moon has no scientific value and, due to its lack of water, most likely has no considerable economic value. (water typically plays a significant role in concentrating metals to the point where they are economic) The near complete lack of atmosphere means s ok large radiation will impinge on anything standing on the moon.

Oct 02, 2019
sure let's just sit on earth and wait to destroy ourselves with nuclear weapons or environmental catastrophe for the sake of preserving some theoretical martian bacteria.

in the absence of life, the universe is simply mindless, dead matter; and by this measure a single square kilometer on earth has more value than an entire planet of stagnant prokaryotes.

Oct 02, 2019
Sorry, but we can't wring our hands so much that we stop explorization and colonization of our solar system. The real worry is that some virus or bacteria from Mars would invade earth.

Oct 02, 2019
It takes all kinds. Some folks are born, live, and then eventually die all within a twenty mile radius of their birthplace.
Some of them even write science articles bemoaning the fact that all progress is made by folks quite unlike them.

Unlike many of the cosmology article comments, I find myself agreeing with most this time.
We need to keep moving, if 'you never slow down you never get old' may not be strictly true but the spirit is correct.

Oct 02, 2019
"He has eluded to the concept of panspermia..."
Sorry. That's bad editing.
You cannot elude to anything.
'Elude' is avoid or escape

Now 'allude' as in make an allusion to something or obliquely reference.
definition: 'suggest or call attention to indirectly; hint at.'
That's the word you wanted not 'elude'

You and your editor need to better spinglish

Oct 02, 2019
As the current bunch of Moon enthusiasts will find, the Moon is a large chunk of anorthosite with some rather large, basaltic lava flows on the near side. It is covered by regolith, the composition of which includes a high percentage of talc-sized glass particles. These particles adhered to most things due to static electrical charge and were quickly foiling the mechanical joints on the Apollo space suits.

This is pretty much true
On the other hand, this
A return to the moon has no scientific value and, due to its lack of water, most likely has no considerable economic value. (water typically plays a significant role in concentrating metals to the point where they are economic) The near complete lack of atmosphere means s ok large radiation will impinge on anything standing on the moon.

is pure speculation without facts in hand.

Voltaire said New France was a 'few acres of ice and snow' while Martinique was an absolutely non-negotiable precious gem of economic value. Yah

Oct 02, 2019
The path was envisioned in the 70's by Gerard K. O'Neill: Musk is a false prophet.
No natural body except Earth is suitable for colonization simply because one gravity is required for humans to thrive. Mars is a dead end. Artificial miles in diameter spinning hollow moons are the requirement. Musk and his company are the worst thing that has ever happened to space exploration. Worse than both shuttle disasters. The ice on the Moon is the critical resource and evidence for it was found in 2008. Due to a campaign contribution Musk made the Moon was made verboten so his hobby rocket would be the focus. His legion of cyberthugs have posted, literally, libraries of death-to-SLS propaganda over the years to eliminate this competition. All popular space forums have been hijacked by Musk fans and no criticism of spacex or the great one is tolerated. The Ayn-Rand-in-space-libertarians will soon make an appearance here. They patrol the internet. https://iceonthem...ess.com/

Oct 02, 2019
No magnetic field means no long-term viability. Not to mention wrong gravity and background radiation. We didn't evolve there. Stillbirths, genetic diseases and deformities will prevent population replacement, let alone expansion. Mars will become a graveyard, nothing more.

Oct 02, 2019
Due to a campaign contribution Musk made the Moon was made verboten so his hobby rocket would be the focus.


SpaceX will sell tickets for their rockets to take people anywhere they care to go. Musk has said that SpaceX stands ready to assist any Moon missions.

His legion of cyberthugs have posted, literally, libraries of death-to-SLS propaganda over the years to eliminate this competition.


What a wasted effort! SLS is killing itself just fine without any outside help! You mean that a rocket that is supposed to launch only once a year or two could support a viable program to any place in space?

Oct 02, 2019
Hundreds of pounds of Earth rocks rain down on Mars (and Moon, etc.) every year. They would contaminate Mars if anything would.

If life developed independently on Mars, it is unlikely to be bio-compatible with Earth life, meaning, we couldn't digest it and it couldn't digest us. Likewise, we ought to be able to tell the two apart without much trouble.

Oct 02, 2019
No magnetic field means no long-term viability. Not to mention wrong gravity and background radiation. We didn't evolve there. Stillbirths, genetic diseases and deformities will prevent population replacement, let alone expansion. Mars will become a graveyard, nothing more.


We haven't yet evolved there. It is time for us to start evolving however we see fit. We need to remove all controls from modification and let people all have at it. May the best scientists win.

Oct 02, 2019
Well, I don't know about the 'morals' of this situation because we all have inclinations to a way or another and could argue about it all day. Elon has certainly got some very ambitious ideas...well he must have a 'team' similarly too. The artist's impression of the SpaceX Starship is not that dissimilar to the of the very streamlined design in that aged sci fi (1950's I think) 'When Worlds Collide' though that's just an irrelevant point without any intended comparative connotations. I do hope the venture succeeds (as I do for other commercial space enterprises) and that the astronauts will be safe but the dangers they face are very real.

Oct 02, 2019
"We do these things not because they are easy...but because they are hard!"
Its a good thing these "reporters" only get to only be opinionated and not actually make decisions. Else we'd still be on horse and buggy.

Oct 02, 2019
Just want to point out that the new vehicles will use methane and oxygen for propellant and oxidizer. The carbon and hydrogen for the methane can come from CO2 in the air and water, cheaply converted to propellant with solar power. If they use a manufacturing process like this the propellant would be carbon neutral. This doesn't add CO2 to the atmosphere because it uses CO2 that is already in the atmosphere. Large scale manufacture of this propellant could actually capture and store surplus CO2 from the atmosphere. And when it combusts it just forms CO2 and water again.

The other points are good points. SpaceX should talk about this stuff.

Oct 02, 2019
anon, knowing reporters & my experience many years ago with horses
if it was up to reporters?
they'd insist on riding on a train or trolley

rhet, can i observe when your daughter brings home a hexapedal android & announces they are engaged?
puh_ leeze!

poous, space rocks fall insystem, pulled by the Sun's gravitational attraction
not too say the unpredictable event of an Earth/Luna orbiting rock might miraculously wind up on Mars
& out of the millions of rocks already covering that surface?
someone miraculously finds & identifies that single stone out of millions

Nah, nope, nada, nyet
you have abused credibility
to trumpgrotesque levels of
"Oh? Come on now! Pull the other one..."

gary & rhugh, generally i agree with you
my opinion, we need a sober, sensible, methodical conservative approach to
Human Space colonies

instead of Luna or Mars?
i favor Ceres, Callisto, Rhea

Luna may have value for robot industries
Mars is a useless waste of space
only deep slime if any life


Oct 03, 2019
"In a startling interview, NASA's Planetary Science Division director Jim Green, Ph.D., has said the space agency is close to "making some announcements" about finding life on Mars — but that we're not ready for it.

Says, the little Green man. The plot thickens.

Oct 03, 2019
Here, I can sum up this article for you: "Mars is scary, space is scary, I'm an old man and I'm scared. It's time for my nappy. No like adventure or taking chances. Where's my oatmeal and prune juice?"

Oct 03, 2019
"In a startling interview, NASA's Planetary Science Division director Jim Green, Ph.D., has said the space agency is close to "making some announcements" about finding life on Mars — but that we're not ready for it.

Says, the little Green man. The plot thickens.

Hmm not quite; this is the quote I read 'Nasa chief scientist: 'We're close to finding and announcing alien life on Mars....but is the world ready?'
The implications are different.

Oct 03, 2019
Any microbes barely surviving for billions of years, on a starvation diet, on a planet that shows no opportunity for evolving any time soon
Adaptation means reaching a comfortable equilibrium with the environment. We've found organisms thriving a mile below the surface of this planet. Indications are that they are healthy and happy.

And any bugs that adapted to the specific conditions of a martian environment would probably find earth inhospitable. We have some very harsh conditions right here, and extremophiles have not shown a desire to eat the entire planet.

I think indigenes might also make short work of any earth bugs that managed to find themselves coughing and sputtering on the surface of mars. Ditto for underground aquifers; martians would be much better at living on mars than earther interlopers.

But I'm just guessing, no?
Hmm not quite; this is the quote I read
What, do you think I make up my own excerpts? Did you try googling it first hmmm?

Oct 03, 2019
Musk has declared a fascinatingly short time line to achieve orbit with this rocket. He wants to build four or five versions of the vehicle in the next six months. Amazingly, it is designed to carry up to 100 crew members....
Am I the only one to think this ambitious push sounds like prep for a global catastrophe? Some asteroid or comet headed our way a la Armageddon or Deep Impact. Build a fleet of arks to take as many people as possible out of harm's way...

Oct 03, 2019
The author wants to wait to 2030 in case there is some magical bug that will confirm or debunk his notions. That is nuts. The treaty he cites has the precautions specified and they can be followed and include manned exploration.

Seriously comparing the risk of manned rockets in 1960's with the risk of SpaceX controlled unmanned rockets. Those rockets, even the few that worked well, were experiments every time they launched. Motors failing, computers freezing, landing zone misses, and that's on the rockets that succeeded.

Oct 03, 2019
"I'm not sure that it is fair or ethical to expect astronauts to be exposed to dangerous levels of radiation that could leave them with considerable health problems—or worse, imminent death."

The author isn't sure because the author hasn't looked at the radiation exposure profiles. He *could* look at those profiles. He just prefers to sound off on morality without bothering.

That's the level of effort the author put into the entire article.

Garbage.

Oct 03, 2019
Hmm not quite; this is the quote I read
What, do you think I make up my own excerpts? Did you try googling it first hmmm?

Hey...cool it...can't you tell...the little green ones, obviously got to him.

Oct 03, 2019
Umm, death is imminent for every last one of us, be it astronauts or just sitting at home watching tv. Astronauts know exactly what they are getting into. This is a very poorly written article.

"I'm not sure that it is fair or ethical to expect astronauts to be exposed to dangerous levels of radiation that could leave them with considerable health problems—or worse, imminent death."

Oct 03, 2019
Moral Holier than though thou Poppycock. I do think Mars is a waste of time. --Why descend into another gravity well after spending so much effort escaping the one you came from? But that objection is based on logical reasons. As a practice ok, maybe some value there, but we've practiced doing that on Earth already, thank you Elon. Now we need to focus on building vehicles and habitats that will spin to provide artificial gravity, if we ever truly want to exist in space for any given amount of time more than a few hours.

Oct 03, 2019
roman, you had half a good idea there
a rush program to assemble a squadron of manned orbitals
not a bad idea, if you want to discover how many things can go wrong, in a hurry

your speculation fails when you figure the logistical support that would be lacking for orbiting survivors of a global catastrophe

sounds good in comicbooks
written by people who have no experience at large-scale operational management

if the "little fleet" is accomplished
& survives shakedown?

the best ROI would be for those privateers to intercept threatening rocks
attach a girdle of screwhead drilling drones
using the ejected material to steer the asteroid's into safe orbits
the safest course would send it sunward to park at one of Venus Lagrange points

Oct 03, 2019
- cont'd -

once the threat has been diminished?
the surviving crews return to Earth for medical care, recuperation & rehabilitation

then. taking advantage of their bitter-learned experience
to be usefully employed
as trainers & instructors for future recruits

meanwhile the clean-up in orbit can be automated

use robot tug-trawlers to sweep up the ejected asteroidal material for use by orbital industry

most valuable ejecta will be volatiles, especially water
then carbon & phosphates

dump unwanted debris on the moon

Oct 03, 2019
So, the author has a "moral" imperative to stop consenting adults from putting their lives at risk in the private sector. But in another place praises the risk of astronauts in the public sector on the mission to the moon. It's like the author thinks that what people do when something is voluntarily funded(i.e. not thru taxes) is immoral while if the same exact people were under the canopy of a government, which is funded through involuntary means(i.e. taxes), it suddenly becomes moral. The State is not a diety. It's just regular people.

Oct 03, 2019
I guess I'm not the only one who found this article super weird. It feels more like an article for CNN or USA Today, fearful articles aren't really what I expect from a science site. So many people die every day, if some people want to volunteer, let them. That said, I think sending people before we can bring them back IS dumb. We are sending better and better robots each trip, and should continue doing that. I'd rather see Spacex send a big ship full of all kinds of robots, flying, ground based, tunnelling, you name it. For that matter, send so many that they can be fallible. Test a repair habit and "fueling" station, there are so many cool things you could do on Mars to prepare us for coming.

Oct 03, 2019
Hmm not quite; this is the quote I read
What, do you think I make up my own excerpts? Did you try googling it first hmmm?

Hey...cool it...can't you tell...the little green ones, obviously got to him.
Are those the same green ones you think that is talking back to you in your asylum walls ?

Oct 03, 2019
tsk, tsk... bad author!
confusing the comicbook fans with cold, harsh reality

having no real world, life experience at production disasters
the commentators complain
that he's going to prevent their fairytale frolics as celebrity spacemen

uhh, exactly what authority does the author have to stop space exploration?

cause you must know something that i am missing about his power to dictate policy

all the author is doing is telling you what you do not want to hear

so? if you homestly intend to make a career in space?
put down the videogame controller, the bong, the can of beer, turn off ESPN

put your nose into the
math & aeronautical engineering
l textbooks
sign-up for avionics & piloting
take classes in circus acrobatics
ballet/savate & advanced gymnastics, laboratory procedures, certified paramedic & general all-around handyman/artificer skills

then get training & on the job experience as a hardsuit deep diver-welder

then you are ready to start training to be a spaceman

Oct 03, 2019
His legion of cyberthugs have posted, literally, libraries of death-to-SLS propaganda over the years to eliminate this competition.

"What a wasted effort! SLS is killing itself just fine without any outside help! You mean that a rocket that is supposed to launch only once a year or two could support a viable program to any place in space?"

Thanks for proving me right. The faithful are on patrol!

Oct 03, 2019
yep, comicbook addicts

ya'all must be purty 'portant folks if'an busy a man as Elon Musk gonna spend any sweat giving a rat's ass about your existence

Oct 04, 2019
Even our most hardy extremophobes won't survive anywhere near the surface, and underground as deep as they would need to be they won't spread BECAUSE THEY'RE UNDERGROUND. Duh.

Next.

Oct 04, 2019
The discussion is important, and overdue.

But this does not seem right: "It may also make it impossible to figure out whether any microbes found on Mars later on are Martian or terrestrial in origin." It may easily make it harder to distinguish between extant or extinct traces, but any metagenome analysis would be able to make the phylogenies for recent or still alive cells.

Oct 04, 2019
"We do these things not because they are easy...but because they are hard!"
Its a good thing these "reporters" only get to only be opinionated and not actually make decisions. Else we'd still be on horse and buggy.


The author is an astrobiologist; you aren't even a presentable commentator (anonymous coward troll).

Blocked for inane trolling.

Oct 04, 2019
Here, I can sum up this article for you: "Mars is scary, space is scary, I'm an old man and I'm scared. It's time for my nappy. No like adventure or taking chances. Where's my oatmeal and prune juice?"


Except *she* is an astrobiologist.

Blocked for inane trolling.

Oct 04, 2019
Even our most hardy extremophobes won't survive anywhere near the surface, and underground as deep as they would need to be they won't spread BECAUSE THEY'RE UNDERGROUND. Duh.


You mean extremophiles, and they can survive under rocks in (yet incomplete) experiments. And if such populations spread into new habitats they will evolve to live there if they can. Nothing stays underground or in the sea or on the land - we have life everywhere.

Oct 04, 2019
well. if the Early Wet Mars hypothesis is eventually conclusively proven?

that Mars micro-organisms did evolve
before post-hadean Earth bio-chemistry phased to the earliest micro-organism stage

if archaic Mars life is empirically proven?
confirmed & verified from multiple sources?
with intensive peer-review?

i agree with the common speculation
(only in the specific conclusive results)
that any surviving Mars life will be deeply buried slime

Inner System, space going rocks travel sunward
it'd take very unusual circumstances
to propel rocks out from Earth orbit to intercept Mars

which makes it more probable, though still implausible
that Earth life was generated from Mars life

Oh & i have never seen a rational, coherent explanation of how any lifeform
including theorized extremophils
survive
getting blasted into space from it's originating biosphere

Dug
Oct 07, 2019
We're discussing Musk speak here. Let's keep it within that historic perspective. With a guy like Musk's record of business predictions and their timing, you can't logically assume anything he says has a basis in current realities, but rather based on his own desires and or imagination/"vision."

Observing from a safe distance it appears to be all hyperbole and marketing to capture the wallet of hyper-positive idealist investors by Musk, and this kind of PR generally begins right before another big capital raise for one of his "enterprises." Tesla being non-profitable still after 16 years and the actual profit status of his private companies like SpaceX and others are unknown. I would be much more favorably impressed with Musk's companies' technical accomplishments, if they had been done transparently as dedicated non-profits and not as baited - for-profit investment - hooks.

Oct 07, 2019
I just think it doesn't make any sense to talk about a "moral catastrophe" when we're talking about possibly killing microbes. Possible loss to science, unfortunate, yes, but nowhere near a moral catastrophe.

Now, sending 100 or more people to their deaths, THAT would be a moral catastrophe -- unless, as others pointed out, they were all well-informed volunteers on a ship/mission that had been thoroughly tested. Possibly a case for an historic Group Darwin Award...

Personally I have strong doubts that humans will ever establish a large colony off of Earth anywhere - Mars, Moon, or satellite, but I see no reason to rain on other people's spending sprees and desire for historic adventures.

Oct 07, 2019
I have strong doubts that humans will ever establish a large colony off of Earth
Thats 'cause youre old, and not much of a dreamer, and your namesake is a myth who never existed.

Sleep on this - we build more ships, more planes, haul more cargo, drive more cars, and carve out more underground space in a day than we did throughout all of the 19th century. One hundred starships hauling 100 colonists apc along with tunnelers, starlink sats, robots etc, is NOTHING.

NASA made spaceflight look difficult on purpose. We build starships in fields now. We can do this ANYWHERE on the globe.

Compare precolumbian transoceanic travel with post. Pre-ww2 transoceanic air travel with post. 19th century electricity distribution with 20th century. Pre-internet with post. Rail traffic, internal combustion, medicine, communications, nuclear, electronics, etcetcetc.

It will be yet one more EXPLOSION that few can imagine even though weve seen it many times before.

I wonder why that is?

Oct 07, 2019
MUsk is building another Model A.

Oct 07, 2019
In respect to the idea that we may 'contaminate' Mars with life from earth, I say let's just get out there. The further we go, the more evidence will become apparent that there either is or is not life beyond our planet. The idea of determining life beyond our planet is a philosophical/religious argument and should not allow us to forgo space exploration and the overriding imperative to explore the universe for all kinds of purposes.

Oct 08, 2019
Thats 'cause youre old, and not much of a dreamer, and your namesake is a myth who never existed.
.. ships, more planes, ...cars, and carve out more underground space ....

NASA made spaceflight look difficult on purpose. ..


I'm a great dreamer, but I'm old enough to know the difference between dreams and reality. I've been around long enough to see things that weren't dreamed of become real, but I've also seen things that were predicted fall short time after time. As for "never existed," well, "Ghost..."? And you don't know about my namesake.

Ships, cars, trains -- essentially powered versions of carts. Even aircraft were inspired by things that could fly. All of these are here on Earth, where we have abundant air, water, and energy.

NASA made spaceflight look difficult? Wow, seriously? There's a new stupid conspiracy theory. Are you going to say they purposely sacrificed humans?

Don't brag about what we're going to do like we've already done it.

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