reflections of a pragmatic optimist, lover of freedom

Month: September 2016

100 Humans on Mars, 8 Years From Now

Apropos our burning need for a way out to a new frontier: This is exactly the kind of thing we need to be working toward.

For the gist of why, the first “Interstellar” trailer articulated the answer in a beautifully profound two minutes:

For the logistical nuts and bolts of how, see Elon Musk’s milestone talk at the 2016 International Astronautical Congress last Tuesday:

According to the plan Musk outlined, SpaceX proposes to deliver an unmanned cargo shipment to Mars in 2018, more to follow in subsequent years, and a first wave of settlers — not a mere handful of astronauts, but a colonizing force of 100 — a mere eight years from now.

Tim Urban, whose detailed profile of Musk and SpaceX is a superbly great read, lays out the details of Musk’s Big F—-ing Rocket in his uniquely engaging, profoundly profane style at Wait But Why. (“G-rated” version now available.)

Some take-homes I jotted down from Musk’s talk:

  • Earth-Mars rendezvous is every ~26 months
  • With SpaceX’s transport, Musk estimates 3-5 months travel time
  • “Raptor” engine that will power the planned transport (to the tune of 42 of them):
    • scaled-up Falcon 9 booster, carbon fiber
    • 382 sec Isp in vacuum (361 @ sea level)
    • center cluster gimbals for steering capability; most on periphery will be fixed orientation
  • 7% of propellant needed for boostback & landing
  • up to 450T cargo to Mars
  • at least 100 passengers per ship, eventually up to 200 or 300

The key thing to emphasize is that this is not just some back-of-the-envelope daydreaming and a few artist sketches. Musk and SpaceX have concrete plans to build and do all of this, very soon now. Nothing in space endeavors is easy or guaranteed to stay on schedule, but with persistence it can be done, and thanks to Musk’s and SpaceX’s persistence and vision to date, we are now much closer than we have ever been to achieving the long dream of “humans as a multi-planetary species.”

We are still pioneers. We’ve barely begun.

Related content here:

9/11, Fifteen Years On

Fifteen years after the scum of the Earth brought their degraded malevolence to American soil, my perspective from last year’s post essentially holds the same. I am far less concerned about the brutal barbarians at the gates than I am about those within the gates who’ve labored to render us weak and defenseless, and continue to do so without end in sight. The wake-up call I thought such an attack would be turned out to be too inconvenient for some among us, whose ambition to chisel away at and dismantle this culture of ours was too dear to be put aside. Come what may, The Narrative must go on! Islamic Jihadist violence and Progressive Multiculturalism are BFFs in a mutual suicide pact — except that only the latter truly means to go down in self-loathing flames of submission, relieved at last of the burden of its perpetual shame, while for the former the true goal is domination through however much homicide, torture, and taqiyya proves necessary.

The majority of Europe is committing cultural suicide, to be sure, and our beloved U.S.A. isn’t far behind. Multiculturalism is an understandable response to the horrors that ravaged the Continent through the first half of the twentieth century, but the cowardice in judgment it’s produced now seems poised to be Europe’s undoing. Maybe I’m old, and maybe my French vocabulary is lacking, but I seem to remember a time before “Frenchman shouts ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he stabs woman to death” was a routine headline.


Our worry now should not be ISIS, for all its sick brutality, but whether we have the will to stand up and declare ISIS and its Jihadist fellow travelers an enemy to be utterly and unconditionally destroyed because we genuinely and deeply care about who we are and what our Civilization stands for. It is not their predictable pipeline of recruits from fanatical branches of the Islamic world that should alarm us, so much as their success at recruiting useful idiots from our own populations. What exactly does that tell us about the state we’re in?

I’m done with a lot, at this point. Done expecting a miracle turnaround from a culture addicted to managed decline. Done having any confidence in our deeply compromised leadership and institutions. Done seeing things I can’t bear come to pass, done with a cowardly press, and, lately, done with the news cycle entirely. Those of us who see the writing on the wall and are weary of it are essentially on our own, in a future governed by absurdities and nonsense.

Maybe, in the end, disillusioned self-reliance is a good place to be. But this is not the future that should have been.

I’m off to watch this memorial slideshow, which captured the weight and reality of that day as well as anything. For those who prefer to read: 9/11: Never Forget, Never Give In is highly recommended.

My Previous Years’ 9/11 Posts

2015: 9/11, Fourteen Years On ~ Fourteen Years Later: 9/11 Links

2014: 9/11, Thirteen Years On

2013: 9/11, Twelve Years On

2012: 9/11, Eleven Years On

2011: A Plea, Ten Years After: Please, Open Your Eyes ~ Ten Years Later: 9/11 Links

2010: 9/11: Two Songs

2009: Tomorrow is 9/11 ~ My Experience of September 11, 2001 ~ 9/11 Quotes

2008: 9/11, Seven Years On ~ 9/11, Seven Years On, Part 2 ~ 102 Minutes that Changed America

2007: 9/11, Six Years On

2006: Soon, Time Again to Reflect ~ 9/11 Observances ~ 9/11 Observances, Part 2

2005: I Remember

2004: Remembering and Rebuilding (republished here September 12th, 2014)

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