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    SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH NASA MANAGER
    'Mars Is the Planet of Our Destiny'
    By Olaf Stampf

    Four decades after the first moon landing, NASA is setting its sights on Mars. NASA manager Jesco von Puttkamer talks to SPIEGEL about the lure of the red planet -- and its potential as an alternative base for human life.

    SPIEGEL: Mr. Puttkamer, the first person set foot on the moon exactly 40 years ago. Why does NASA want to return to that barren, lifeless place?

    Puttkamer: The Apollo astronauts were only able to spend a couple of days up there -- that was just a quick visit. When we fly there again in 2019-2020, we'll stay much longer. The four-person team will gain experience for the real long-term goal -- the journey to Mars. We want to build a lunar station where people could live for weeks or even months, as preparation for the larger Mars project.

    SPIEGEL: So NASA is not preparing to populate the moon?

    Puttkamer: No, the lunar station won't be capable of continuous operation 365 days a year, since we'll need to supply it constantly with air, water and food from Earth, and that would be insanely expensive. But the living conditions on Mars are actually very different. There are many natural resources there, and our probe just recently discovered traces that could originate from liquid water. It's also been known for a long time that water in solid form -- in other words, ice -- exists there in large quantities.

    SPIEGEL: Will America fly to the moon alone again?

    Puttkamer: Certainly not -- and especially not when we want to reach more distant destinations. The age of going it alone is over. The Apollo project took place during the Cold War, when we were involved in a dramatic race with the Soviets. But a lot has changed since then. We've moved away from that competitive way of thinking, and everyone is invited to take part in future missions. It functions that way already on the International Space Station, where 16 countries work together in an exemplary way. We've created a kind of United Nations in space.

    SPIEGEL: Yet the United States is going to build the new moon rockets alone again.

    Puttkamer: Unfortunately it can't be done any other way. After our shuttle fleet is withdrawn from service next year, we're going to need a new space carrier of our own as quickly as possible. To that end, we needed to commission industry to develop the new Ares rocket and the accompanying Orion spaceship as soon as possible. Then there's also the Altair lunar lander. But in any case, the European Space Agency is already very interested in helping with the construction of infrastructure on the moon later. Our Russian partners would definitely participate as well. And I personally would be very happy to also see Germany involved.

    SPIEGEL: Aren't you worried that enthusiasm for conquering the moon will drop off again just as quickly as it did after the Apollo flights?

    Puttkamer: That's a danger we certainly can't dismiss. Back then, we were definitely also a victim of our own success. The public got bored quite quickly because the Apollo flights proceeded with such breathtaking perfection. We launched a total of 13 Saturn V rockets, and almost every time it went like clockwork. That means the sense of adventure faded quickly among the general public. So that means we now face the challenge of getting people excited about lunar flights again. And we have to explain to the skeptics that the moon is the most important stopover on the way to Mars. If everything goes well, we could head for the red planet in just 25 years. The future Mars astronauts have already been born -- they're already little rugrats running around among us.

    SPIEGEL: Why is it so important to you to send people to Mars?

    Puttkamer: Mars is the planet of our destiny. There's the well-founded hope that we might find traces of extraterrestrial life there for the first time, even if it's only fossilized microbes. A human scientist who can take and analyze samples on the ground is much better suited to this search than a robot, no matter how sophisticated it is. But the most important thing is the fact that people will one day set foot on Mars and populate it. The red desert planet Mars, provided it doesn't have any life of its own, could become a green Mars through so-called terraforming -- in other words, the active transformation (of its environment). If that's successful, humankind will have created itself a second home, just in case an asteroid impact or other major catastrophe wipes out life on Earth. Only through having Mars as a reserve planet will the human race really become immortal.

    SPIEGEL: The trip to a desert of a planet, millions of kilometers away, could end up as a journey of no return. Do you really believe the spacefaring nations will take this risk?

    Puttkamer: We are unfortunately lacking in Apollo-era daring these days, no question. When the German-born rocket scientist Wernher von Braun got President John F. Kennedy fired up about lunar flight in 1961, no one knew if the adventure would be successful or if we could bring the astronauts safely to the moon and back. A new TV documentary on the anniversary of the first moon landing shows the sense of excitement that prevailed then very well. Today, however, politicians, managers and engineers shy away from the risk, because they're afraid they'll be the ones crucified if something goes wrong. Yet if we want to venture forth in the universe, we need to overcome our exaggerated concerns about safety. If I could take a warm sweater with me, I'd board a Mars spaceship immediately.

    Interview conducted by Olaf Stampf.
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/...635223,00.html


    what do you think about this? personaly i think having a united nations space agency would be great. Together as a planet we could acheive great things, and it would be great to go to mars.
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    We don't really need a UN space agency, in the coming years both China and India are ramping up their commitment to space and want to land a man on the moon by the end of the 2010's and in the case of China to conduct a manned mission to Mars by 2035. This will finally push the US government into funding NASA properly to build it's lunar base and to reach Mars and finally capitalise on the moon landings of 40 years ago....40 wasted years.

    Competititon is good as it pushes each competitor to get there first, whereas one unified space agency would probably suffer from lethargy and being poorly funded as no one nation would gain the political benefit of being able to say it's the first to land a man on mars.
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    (Original post by ajp100688)
    Competititon is good as it pushes each competitor to get there first, whereas one unified space agency would probably suffer from lethargy and being poorly funded as no one nation would gain the political benefit of being able to say it's the first to land a man on mars.
    Agreed. It is also interesting to see how the US and Russia are planning on using different ways to get to Mars: US going via a lunar station as seen above, while Russia trying the direct-to-Mars approach, possibly using solar sails on their craft, even though this means that the actual trip there and back would take years!
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    Personally I think it won't be the Russians or even the Americans that gets to Mars first, I reckon it'll be the Chinese, they have the drive and single minded focus and disregard for human safety that means they'll progress at a much faster rate. Much like the Soviets during the Cold War really, they're quite happy to accept a number of deaths and huge expenses if it gains them the political clout of being first to Mars.

    Kinda weird to think that I'll be in my mid 40s to mid 50s when any of these projects comes to fruition, space exploration really needs a much larger budget than it currently gets.
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    (Original post by ajp100688)
    Personally I think it won't be the Russians or even the Americans that gets to Mars first, I reckon it'll be the Chinese, they have the drive and single minded focus and disregard for human safety that means they'll progress at a much faster rate. Much like the Soviets during the Cold War really, they're quite happy to accept a number of deaths and huge expenses if it gains them the political clout of being first to Mars.

    Kinda weird to think that I'll be in my mid 40s to mid 50s when any of these projects comes to fruition, space exploration really needs a much larger budget than it currently gets.

    I call BS. You seem to think the soviets didn't care how many people died.

    Well America got to do the moon first.

    And i am willing to bet they'll get to mars first. How is china going tyo get to mars if they haven't even gone to the moon?

    Also, competition is good in normal things, but first of all, this isn't a race anymore, secondly, $100bn and 1000 scientists are better than 10 groups of $10bn and 100 scientists doing the same thing.
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    (Original post by Bateman)
    I call BS. You seem to think the soviets didn't care how many people died.

    Well America got to do the moon first.

    And i am willing to bet they'll get to mars first. How is china going tyo get to mars if they haven't even gone to the moon?

    Also, competition is good in normal things, but first of all, this isn't a race anymore, secondly, $100bn and 1000 scientists are better than 10 groups of $10bn and 100 scientists doing the same thing.
    The f- happened to all your rep?

    The US already has years of experience and technogy - think they'll be the first there. However, i think when it comes to a widespread exodus of population to space (the first outward emigration from Earth, so to speak) it'll probably be India with it's massive population that will provide most of the people for planet population.

    However, that is an obscenely long time in the future, so it's a bit of a pointless statement :rolleyes:
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    America isn't going to get there first, because NASA will be probably be bust by the time they've figured out a pheasible mission. It'll either be the Russians, or some kind of EU/Chinese/Russian collaboration. And to be honest, I don't really see the point of a manned expedition there anyway.
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    (Original post by Bateman)

    SPIEGEL: Why is it so important to you to send people to Mars?

    Puttkamer: Mars is the planet of our destiny. There's the well-founded hope that we might find traces of extraterrestrial life there for the first time, even if it's only fossilized microbes. A human scientist who can take and analyze samples on the ground is much better suited to this search than a robot, no matter how sophisticated it is. But the most important thing is the fact that people will one day set foot on Mars and populate it. The red desert planet Mars, provided it doesn't have any life of its own, could become a green Mars through so-called terraforming -- in other words, the active transformation (of its environment). If that's successful, humankind will have created itself a second home, just in case an asteroid impact or other major catastrophe wipes out life on Earth. Only through having Mars as a reserve planet will the human race really become immortal.
    I guess this guy hasnt played Doom 3 before :P
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    (Original post by jakemittle)
    I guess this guy hasnt played Doom 3 before :P
    Heh :p:

    I think if we were to use just CURRENT terraforming techniques, within 1000 years mars would have breathable oxygen.

    Until then, biospheres or something?

    Seems a bit pointless to colonize mars. Much better things to spend money on.
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    Total Recall.
    Seriously it is on almost every day!! :|
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    After generations of living on Mars humans would change shape as the gravity on the planet is less than Earth. Bet Mars doesn't sound that great now lol.
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    (Original post by Indubitably)
    America isn't going to get there first, because NASA will be probably be bust by the time they've figured out a pheasible mission. It'll either be the Russians, or some kind of EU/Chinese/Russian collaboration. And to be honest, I don't really see the point of a manned expedition there anyway.

    what a pile of crap.
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    (Original post by Lefty Leo)
    The f- happened to all your rep?

    The US already has years of experience and technogy - think they'll be the first there. However, i think when it comes to a widespread exodus of population to space (the first outward emigration from Earth, so to speak) it'll probably be India with it's massive population that will provide most of the people for planet population.

    However, that is an obscenely long time in the future, so it's a bit of a pointless statement :rolleyes:

    lmao, the indians are one of the poorest people on earth, the only people going to mars will be the rich.
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    (Original post by Bateman)
    lmao, the indians are one of the poorest people on earth, the only people going to mars will be the rich.
    Maybe initialy only the rich will go as tourists, but after that poorer people are possibly the most likely to move. Rich people have what they want on earth, the pioneer volunteers are likely to be from a poorer upbringing.
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    (Original post by DayneD89)
    Maybe initialy only the rich will go as tourists, but after that poorer people are possibly the most likely to move. Rich people have what they want on earth, the pioneer volunteers are likely to be from a poorer upbringing.
    Exactly. With a huge pop (big proportions of it might be poor) India will likely be the big colonizer (like Britain and Spain were of the Americas).
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    (Original post by Lefty Leo)
    Exactly. With a huge pop (big proportions of it might be poor) India will likely be the big colonizer (like Britain and Spain were of the Americas).
    By the time it is viable to send large numbers of people into space I don't think India will be the country that has the excess population, it's more likely going to be countries in Africa, which show no signs of slowing down with their population growth, whereas India is going to encounter serious resource limitations and other contstraints if it doesn't implement population control soon.
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    (Original post by Gaishan)
    By the time it is viable to send large numbers of people into space I don't think India will be the country that has the excess population, it's more likely going to be countries in Africa, which show no signs of slowing down with their population growth, whereas India is going to encounter serious resource limitations and other contstraints if it doesn't implement population control soon.
    Resource limitation? :rolleyes:

    That isn't why you institute population control. You do so to ease the burden on government to invest in infrastructure and to provide employment. India's population will naturally have stabilized at 2050 at 1.8 billion, unlike, say, China, which will have a rapidly aging population by 2025 and will thus encounter serious problems.

    And you're probably right. What drives emigration is a lack of opportunity at home and a large youthful population. Thus i think the key contenders will be Africa, the Arab world and India (although India would've matured by now, even though it would still have a humoungous youthful population). However, the second definitely won't have the resources (or the political clout, as soon as we run out of oil) to really do much about its huge pop, imo.
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    (Original post by Lefty Leo)
    Resource limitation? :rolleyes:

    That isn't why you institute population control. You do so to ease the burden on government to ease infrastructure. India's population will naturally have stabilized at 2050 at 1.8 billion, unlike, say, China, which will have a rapidly aging population by 2025 and will thus encounter serious problems.

    And you're probably right. What drives emigration is a lack of opportunity at home and a large youthful population. Thus i think the key contenders will be Africa, the Arab world and India (although India would've matured by now, even though it would still have a humoungous youthful population). However, the second definitely won't have the resources (or the political clout, as soon as we run out of oil) to really do much about its huge pop, imo.
    I hate that rolling eyes smilee. I'd appreciate it if you didn't use it. Thanks.

    Actually you sometimes do. China implemented its policy partly to reduce the demand on its agriculture to feed the rapidly increasingly population. A rapidly growing population puts pressure on everything, infrastructure as you say, and resources.
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    (Original post by Gaishan)
    I hate that rolling eyes smilee. I'd appreciate it if you didn't use it. Thanks.

    Actually you sometimes do. China implemented its policy partly to reduce the demand on its agriculture to feed the rapidly increasingly population. A rapidly growing population puts pressure on everything, infrastructure as you say, and resources.
    Agriculture has improved faster than the rate of population grown since the early 70s.

    And even so, if all of the world's farming land was utilized effectively, we'd be able to feed a population of over 12 billion people.

    India will likely just have to import a lot of food.

    And why the player hatin on the :rolleyes: smiley.
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    (Original post by Lefty Leo)
    Agriculture has improved faster than the rate of population grown since the early 70s.

    And even so, if all of the world's farming land was utilized effectively, we'd be able to feed a population of over 12 billion people.

    India will likely just have to import a lot of food.

    And why the player hatin on the :rolleyes: smiley.
    Of course, but at the time China was dependent on its local agriculture which was not as productive. I wasn't suggesting that there is any forseeably problem feeding people, I just disputed your point about resources not being an issue with a growing population.

    I hate the smilee because it's so rude. I'm not criticising you in particular for using it. How would you feel if you were having a debate with someone and they rolled their eyes deliberately so that you could see them do it or stuck their middle finger up at you. That's what I think the smilee does.
 
 
 
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