how are ya AlderaanDuran?
I am alive and well, and occasionally checking Hubski out. I don't don't really post much anymore or do the social site stuff for a variety of reasons, but do occasionally take a peak at Hubski. I got married in October of last year, found out my wife was pregnant the following month, and am expecting a baby girl pretty soon here in early August. Plus it's summer time Minnesota, which means wedding season photography and lots of yard/house work.
How are you TNG? Been awhile.
Yes, but it would take a lot of money and has practically zero ROI unless he can get a government to pay for the ride, and all of the R/D that lead to all of the technologies that would be needed. I say that's doubtful. That being said, I think there is a possibility Elon Musk is eccentric enough to possibly just foot the bill with hopes of breaking down some barriers and getting himself a very large mention in the history books along with a bunch of statues, monuments, and exhibits in museums.
They are working on the Red Dragon which would be a version of the Dragon capsule capable of soft landing via retro rockets. The Soyuz already does this to an extent, as it lands on land and not in the sea like the previous US capsules. That's really the ONLY piece of technology that I've read about from them that has applications to a manned Mars landing. AND, they are talking about a NASA first flight of it in 2022 for a landing mission for a possible drill probe and also proving that a lander of this nature would work for humans. So I don't see them turning around and 4 years later putting people down after using this thing for the first time... even if that first time stays on schedule and right now it's just a rough proposition that recently came out. But then there's the whole journey there, the habitats, food, water, radiation protection, and the biggest question; Once you land on Mars... how do you get those men back into orbit for a docking with the cruise stage, and back to Earth?
The best window for Mars puts people on Mars for well over a year, the smallest ideal window that has rare occurrences could have them there and back in a little under a year. Because you have to wait for the ideal line up to launch from Earth to Mars, then wait on Mars for everything to line up again, with us leaving Mars as is leads ahead of Earth in orbit. Each way we would essentially fly towards the orbit path and the target planet would come up on us, instead of us burning after it.
I would love to believe Musk and say 2026 can happen, but I'm super skeptical about it all. There's so much tech needed. Falcon Heavy hasn't even flown yet, Red Dragon is still on the drawing board, there is a lot of other tech needed that really hasn't been addressed yet, and currently there is no customer to fund what would be the most expensive and risky manned space mission ever. While Musk is rich, I don't think he could even fund something like this with every penny he has.
We'll see, but I say doubtful. My guess for people on Mars would be late 2030s, but I'd LOVE to be proven wrong. US will only pay for a Mars trip when Russia or China starts getting serious about it.