Hi, I'm Thomas, a Frenchman living in Singapore. I work in advertising, and in my spare time I love reading, debating and writing about science, technology and their impact on humans societies. Let me tell you about my Mars story.
In September 2016 at the International Astronautical Congress held in Mexico, Elon Musk revealed to an audience in awe the details of the first iteration of his Mars spaceship, designed to take 100 people to the Red Planet in a 6-month journey. His Starship (known before as the Mars Colonial Transporter, then the Interplanetary Transport System and after that renamed the Big F** Rocket) is intended to be the caravel of our New Space Age, the iconic ark that will enable the human colonization of Mars, the essential prerequisite of the opening of the Earth-Mars economy, and even more significantly, the only way to save our species, at least according to Elon Musk's gospel.
This endeavor to settle Mars is the obsession of Elon Musk. And he's not alone.
Musk is quick to explain that Homo sapiens needs to become a multi-planetary species if it is to survive in the long term, and Mars stands as the first and inescapable next step : some of us need to pack and go there to make a living permanently as soon as possible.
Musk isn't joking, he's said repeatedly that the first manned mission could happen as early as 2024 !
While human space exploration was long thought the stuff of a handful of governments given its immense costs, Musk openly has the ambition to disrupt that state of affairs and beat the NASA to the punch by landing humans on Mars before the venerable American space agency, whose target date for such an achievement is set in the 2030's if not 2040's.
It's tempting to rave about the genius of a man who aims at saving humanity while inviting us earthlings to follow in real time a human and cosmic adventure that promises to be more thrilling than most of what we've experienced lately. Especially when coming from a man who seems legit and has built his credibility with incredible professional achievements at Paypal, Tesla and SpaceX.
The contagious enthusiasm about Musk's Mars plan may well spread to the general public now that the press has started to regularly echo his otherworldly statements and tweets.
It is in the context of this Rush to Mars that I'd like to bring a contrarian view about what's wrong with it all.
I've been fascinated from a very early age by space and its exploration. I was for long thrilled by the idea of seeing humans walk over Mars, of humankind at last becoming multi-planetary. My interest for the Red Planet morphed into a Red Fever in 2015 after reading these works :
- That long 2015 article by Tim Urban, author of WaitButWhy.com : How (and Why) SpaceX Will Colonize Mars. Tim blogs eloquently about all sorts of issues, using his legendary familiar tone. His success led him to be contacted by Elon Musk in person to disscuss Musk's Mars plan.
- The reference book The Case for Mars written by Mars Society founder Robert Zubrin in 1996 (and updated in 2011). In his book, Robert Zubrin details why humans need to go to Mars at the earliest, and how that could be done cheaply, that is only for around US$6 billions and within 10 years using existing rocket technology. With Elon Musk, Robert Zubrin is probably the most zealous advocate of humans to Mars. When Elon Musk decided to get serious about Mars, Robert Zubrin was among the first he turned to.
- Buzz Aldrin's 2013 book: Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration
- The 2014 novel The Martian, by Andy Weir, which then became a blockbuster movie starring Matt Damon in 2015
But then, doing further research, I realized this humans-to-Mars thing was all wrong, on all fronts. That was a hard landing for the Mars fan that I am.
I owe that realization to Robert Walker, an inventor, software developer, musician, music writer and mathematician from Scotland. Robert reads and writes a damn lot about Mars, he's been a Quora Top Writer
about Space and Mars every year since 2015. His articles have been featured in Forbes, Slate, The Huffington Post, Newsweek and Business Insider.
My upcoming book Why Elon Musk Should Not Send Humans to Mars
summarizes, elaborates on, reorganizes, broadens and supplements his arguments laid out over the years in many well-documented articles published on the platform www.science20.com/robertinventor
In the 10 chapters of the book, I'll detail:
- why we shouldn't send humans to Mars yet,
- why all the reasons advanced to justify such a mission are wrong or could be satisfied in a simpler way
I've also written an op-ed that gives a glimpse of what's to come in the book, featured in SpaceTechAsia.com, the first space news website in Asia: Why we shouldn’t send humans to Mars
Please find below a short excerpt of the book : the top 5 reasons people want to send humans to Mars, and for each the (brief) rebuttal.
After that, you'll find the list of the 10 chapters of the book.
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