Today was a huge day for humanity.

Elon Musk (SpaceX, Tesla) has unveiled a new reusable space rocket which will utterly revolutionise and dramatically change space travel forever, making it orders of magnitude cheaper to get humans and cargo into space:

www.spacex.com/webcast

And Microsoft/skype have demonstrated a highly functioning "universal translator" (first shown, in less functioning form a couple of years ago). Speak in one language, it will translate and speak what you have said into another language, almost in real-time. This erosion of language barriers is imminent:

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/28/microsofts-star-trek-voice-translator-skype


Take a deep breath, smile and enjoy being alive, for it's a wonderful time to be so.
 
And Microsoft/skype have demonstrated a highly functioning "universal translator" (first shown, in less functioning form a couple of years ago). Speak in one language, it will translate and speak what you have said into another language, almost in real-time. This erosion of language barriers is imminent:

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/28/microsofts-star-trek-voice-translator-skype
I think these translators have a long way to go, I get a few laughs and confusion when I use Google translator in Spain, and it often misunderstands my words (Australian accent ?). Best to learn the language yourself, which I'm doing.
 
...I did see both of these news items. :) Interesting stuff.

Elon has some competition with his electric cars of late. A new billionnaire will be competing with him in his car niche "..or go broke trying". Should be interesting for RRP of their cars.

It's a shame we are still using rockets all these years later.

Good post Richard.
 
Aren't the Japanese looking at a space net to clean up the space rubbish around the planet also?

 
Elon Musk (SpaceX, Tesla) has unveiled a new reusable space rocket which will utterly revolutionise and dramatically change space travel forever, making it orders of magnitude cheaper to get humans and cargo into space:

.


I hope this works. They said the space shuttle was going to do the same, and it did the opposite. Made launches so much more expensive and killed 14 astronauts.

Being born in the 60s and seeing man walk on the moon as a kid, I assumed there would be permanent bases on Mars by now? The space shuttle was a big reason for this not happening I reckon. Now that it's gone some progress might be achieved?


See ya's.
 
I hope this works. They said the space shuttle was going to do the same, and it did the opposite. Made launches so much more expensive and killed 14 astronauts.

Being born in the 60s and seeing man walk on the moon as a kid, I assumed there would be permanent bases on Mars by now? The space shuttle was a big reason for this not happening I reckon. Now that it's gone some progress might be achieved?


See ya's.

The space race was a giant pi**ing contest. Once the US "won", progress halted.

Personally, I have confidence in the ability of Elon Musk. His track record is superb, his thinking is brilliant, his ambition high and he has the wealth to make it happen.

I think this email I received overnight from Peter Diamandis (founder of the X Prize Foundation) makes some good points:

Yesterday I attended the unveiling of SpaceX's Dragon-2 capsule -- the new spaceship they've designed to take people
to space.

I wanted to share this exciting experience with you.

After a small press event, I had the chance to actually climb into the capsule with Elon Musk (Founder & CEO) and a mutual friend, Shervin Pishevar (Managing Director at Sherpa Ventures).

For any of you who are fellow space cadets, this is the first spaceship that is truly beautiful, from its leather seats (which remind me of my Tesla) to its gleaming metallic interior and large flat screen displays. This is the first spaceship to feel straight out of a sci-fi movie. What the SpaceX team has accomplished is nothing short of miraculous.

After the big reveal, Musk told reporters that the cost of flying seven astronauts to the station on the Dragon could start out at under $20 million per seat, with the first piloted test flights in 2016.

Two extremely cool features of the Dragon-2 Capsule:

First, the landing engines called the "SuperDraco Thrusters" are actually 3D printed out of Inconel (a nickel-chromium superalloy), each with 16,000 pounds of thrust.

Second, the Dragon-2 capsule lands using rocket thrusters. Gone are the parachute splashdowns. Now Dragon-2 can land anywhere on Earth with the precision of a helicopter.

Such a powered landing is the first step towards landing on Mars, where the atmosphere is too thin to use parachutes for a soft touchdown.

Mars, after all, is Elon's ultimate goal. Last October I was on stage with him, interviewing him at a Goldman Sachs event for an audience of entrepreneurs, and I asked him for a prediction on the timeframe and cost for taking private passengers to Mars. His answer?

It's only 15 years away.
For a total cost per person of $500,000
...Round trip.


The message here is the following:

Elon had no experience in the rocket business when he started 12 years ago. Yes, of course he's a genius, but beyond that, he has surpassed what NASA, Lockheed, Boeing, Russia and China are able to do in space.

The ability of entrepreneurs to do what was once only in the hands of governments is upon us. So too, is access to the solar system.

Fasten your seatbelts -- it will be a wild ride ahead.
 
Kind of related - Virgin Galactic Cleared For Takeoff

Something like this is on my bucket list. Hopefully by the time I can afford to spend $250k on something for fun it will be a lot cheaper.

If/when this does go ahead it will be opening a lot of doors.

First flights by end of 2014. Awesome.

Seeing earth from space is on my 'to do' list. When it's a fifth of the current cost, I'm there.

Visiting mars is another on the list.

Shouldn't be that long for the first of those goals. As SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and other have shown, things that were once prohibitively expensive are becoming increasingly more affordable (at at exponential rate) and with competition comes innovation.

Bring it on.
 
It's only 15 years away...


I don't believe it.


We invented jetpacks 53 years ago, good enough to lift a man clear and away, see the link for Hal Graham's flight at the Pentagon in 1961 and that has gone nowhere since.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIqfNoz8U9Q


Due to unseen and massively influential market forces, the majority still use metal cars powered by internal combustion engines consuming fuel, restricted to rolling down a bitumen road on rubber tyres, just as we did 100 years ago.


The ordinary folk zipping off to Mars and back in 15 years....codswallop.
 
The ordinary folk zipping off to Mars and back in 15 years....codswallop.


Yeah, it's a total laugh a minute. As for it costing $500,000? I was thinking this bloke was pretty clever till he came up with that?

I bet he didn't really say that? Surely he was misquoted?


See ya's.
 
Dazz and topcropper, you appear to be applying linear thinking to problems that will be solved with exponential technologies. Humans are good at that, since our brains evolved in a linear world.

Re: jetpack: we also landed on the moon later that decade and had made **** all progress since, until recently.

Time's are changing.

I'll wager Musk's margin of error is miniscule. He is a smart boy, he has a degree in physics and applies logic in his thinking and requires mountains of evidence behind his predictions. It's this kind of thinking and vision that's enabled him to make successes of companies like Space X and Tesla when others would laugh at the concept due to the apparently ludicrious time and financial obstacles.

If the compounding of your investment portfolio doesn't give any hints, the cost of sequencing DNA is a good example for reference. It cost $100mil to sequence an entire genome in 2001. If Musk had predicted it would be on the order of $1mil in 2016 you'd have laughed.

Well guess what:

http://www.genome.gov/images/content/cost_per_genome.jpg

It's under $10k today.
 
Dazz and topcropper, you appear to be applying linear thinking to problems that will be solved with exponential technologies.


He hasn't invented some new form of rocket engine. He's still using liquid Oxygen and kerosene. It will still take tens of thousands of kilos of fuel to lift a tonne of mass into orbit. Then much more to send it to Mars. He can refine and simplify and improve as much as he likes, but he still needs a certain amount of energy to do what he wants and that energy will never be cheaper till someone invents something totally new.

I still reckon he's been misquoted? He wouldn't be so silly to say such crap?

Whatever?


See ya's.
 
Alright, you made me go digging.

Two years ago:
http://www.geekosystem.com/spacex-mars-on-the-cheap/

SpaceX?s Elon Musk is extremely passionate about space travel, and especially so about Mars. It?s no secret that he aspires to make SpaceX?s Dragon capsule the first commercial vessel to land on the red planet. However, in an interview with the BBC he claimed that not only could he do it, but that it would only cost a passenger $500,000. While Musk acknowledges that the price tag is immaterial ? and conjectural ? he did hint at big news coming soon.

When speaking to the BBC, Musk said that key to SpaceX?s budget-rate plan to get to Mars was reusability and refueling.

?My vision is for a fully reusable rocket transport system between Earth and Mars that is able to re-fuel on Mars ? this is very important ? so you don?t have to carry the return fuel when you go there,? he said.

?The whole system [must be] reusable ? nothing is thrown away. That?s very important because then you?re just down to the cost of the propellant.

?We will probably unveil the overall strategy later this year in a little more detail, but I?m quite confident that it could work and that ultimately we could offer a round trip to Mars that the average person could afford ? let?s say the average person after they?ve made some savings.?
In previous announcements, Musk has already revealed SpaceX?s intention to create a fully reusable self-landing launch system. However, in this interview he also spoke about the importance of the Falcon Heavy ? the heavy lift variant of SpaceX?s family of rockets.

Taken all together, a picture of what SpaceX may soon be announcing begins to shape. It sounds like Musk is not only planning for a two-stage reusable rocket, but to bring that technology to much larger rockets like the Falcon Heavy. His statements about refueling on Mars are particularly tantilizing. While it?s nice to think that SpaceX has plans to build a gas station on the red planet, it seems far more likely that he?s going to propose some kind of in-space refueling scheme.

If that?s the case, a super-cheap SpaceX mission to Mars would begin with the crew vehicle launching atop a large, reusable rocket system. It would cruise to Mars, probably with some kind of larger crew compartment for the ride. Meanwhile, a second rocket blasts off sending a module packed with fuel and supplies on a longer trajectory to Mars. After the crewed mission is complete and about to head home, it meets up with the second unmanned craft and restocks.

While this is just my personal conjecture, it?s not without precedent. For instance, NASA has already begun to recognize the importance of space-bound fuel depots as a way to cut costs by lowering the weight that needs to be blasted off from Earth. In their 2013 budget projections, the space agency made development of ?Cryogenic Propellant Storage and Transfer? a priority. From the NASA budgetary document:

The Cryogenic Propellant Storage and Transfer demonstration mission will conduct ground tests of the critical technologies required to enable long-term storage and handling of cryogenic fluids in space in preparation for a flight demonstration.
A NASA webpage on the project ? which may be outdated ? mentions a 2016 timeframe for the launch of a demonstrator project.

We?ll have to wait for Musk and his team at SpaceX to announce how they plan to get to Mars on the cheap, but it?s clear that despite some hiccups in the SpaceX mission to the International Space Station, Musk is still dreaming big.

Two years later:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencet...s-colony-2020-plans-sell-tickets-500-000.html

People who dream of visiting far flung planets have six years to get saving for a trip to Mars.
Billionaire Elon Musk, has announced his SpaceX firm is making ?progress? towards establishing a colony on the red planet by 2020, and expects to sell tickets for $500,000 (?296,900) a trip.
The comments were made following SpaceX?s successful rocket tests in April.

Elon Musk has previously said he created SpaceX for the sole reason of developing rocket technology to get people to Mars.

He wants to help establish a colony of up to 80,000 people on the planet, but admitted he?d like to start small, with a group of 10 people, and build the colony from there.
?At Mars, you can start a self-sustaining civilisation and grow it into something really big,? Musk said.
?I think we're making some progress in that direction - not as fast as I'd like.?
Musk was speaking to an audience at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London.
In April, SpaceX carried out a successful rocket test during which the firm launched a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket from Florida, after suffering three previous delays.*
The rocket is reusable and it crashed into a target in the Atlantic Ocean shortly after the Dragon capsule delivered supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

SpaceX has a $1.6bn contract with Nasa for a series of future supply missions and this will be used to test his technology further.
Musk ultimately plans to use a reusable rocket fuelled by liquid oxygen and methane to reach the red planet - and he aims to get there three years before the Mars One colony arrive.*
Mars One was set up by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp who plans to take 40 people to the planet with training starting in 2018, and the first passengers arriving in 2023.
Lansdorp is offering tickets to applicants, rather than selling them.
The ?4bn project is set to recoup its costs by selling the broadcasting rights to the mission - by comparison, Nasa's rover Curiosity cost ?1.8 billion.
 
I'm cheering him on then. I was pretty much resigned to the fact that I wouldn't see anyone on Mars in my lifetime?

Hope you are right.


See ya's.
 
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