The Martian, Andy Weir The Mars Mission, Elon Musk
Space x Falcon 9 launched with Dragon 10 on the top. Successful return of the Falcon 9 to land.
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The Martian, Andy Weir The Mars Mission, Elon Musk is a combined narrative about Andy Weir’s book and Elon Musk’s planned manned mission to Mars. I was hooked on Andy Weir’s book right away, so I wrote the The Martian’ – review published in the Reporter, Keynoter Publishing, October 2, 2015. This manned mission story came out and I couldn’t resist sticking the two together. Enjoy ‘The Mars Mission’ – article & video a News Story by Kenneth Chang @kchangnyt in the New York Times, September 27, 2016
The Martian, Andy Weir The Mars Mission, Elon Musk
by Nada Khalaf-Jones
“Maybe there’ll be a day of national mourning for me, and my Wikipedia page will say, “Mark Watney is the only human being to have died on Mars,” reads the first chapter of The Martian, by Andy Weir, a self confessed nerd, his Orbital Dynamics calculations only turn on other nerds and nerd wannabee’s. Read the full Andy Weir book.
But while Weir’s story of a modern day Robinson Crusoe stranded on the red planet attracted a global readership, from reports of audiences lining up for hours to hear him speak, it seems Elon Musk has captured the hopes and voices of an equally fanatical audience.
The hype and NASA interest/response to The Martian was followed by the Scott Free movie release with Matt Damon as Mark Watney. For Weir, his more science than fantasy dream may come true in his lifetime, if Elon Musk’s vision sees the light of day on schedule.
Musk said as much at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico on September 27th, 2016, where Musk offered engineering details a timeline and an animated video of the Mars mission.
“What you saw there is very close to what we’ll actually build,” Mr. Musk said, referring to the rockets and spacecraft in the video, according to Kenneth Chang, Science and Technology reporter for the New York Times.
“To establish a self-sustaining Mars civilization of a million people would take 10,000 flights, with many more to ferry equipment and supplies. We’re going to need something quite large to do that,” Mr. Musk said.
It would take 40 years to a century before the city on Mars became self-sufficient. Chang reports the mood at the conference was almost as giddy as a rock concert or the launch of a new Apple product, with people lining up for Mr. Musk’s presentation a couple of hours in advance.
Mr. Musk has talked of his “Mars Colonial Transporter,” but a couple of weeks ago, he suggested that its capabilities would be much greater.
And whilst everyone in my household knows these words ‘yours or your children’s generation may actually go to Mars, whether it’s manned or unmanned, they may,’ Weir loved this notion, Musk loves this notion. And if I was a betting person i’d say Elon Musk read Andy Weir’s transformative book.
So it’s this love for space travel that shines through these two visionaries minds. One has visualized a series of events that stranded astronaut Watney on Mars, and his ultimate struggle for survival. The other is charged with seeing that this type of possibility even gets off the ground.
From the conference in Mexico reports stated that during his talk, Mr. Musk put up a slide titled “Funding.” The first item was “Steal underpants,” a joking reference to a “South Park” episode. He also listed SpaceX’s businesses — launching satellites and sending NASA cargo and astronauts to the space station — and “Kickstarter.”
But he admitted that SpaceX would probably not be able to do it alone. “Ultimately, this is going to be a huge public-private partnership,” he said.
SpaceX has received much of the financing for its rocket development from NASA, from contracts to take cargo to and from the International Space Station. The United States Air Force is providing $33.6 million for development of the Raptor, according to the NYTimes’ Chang.
“Mr. Musk was confident that his company could pull off his vision, but he said he would not be among the first colonists, saying he wants to see his children grow up. The chances of dying on that first trip to Mars, he said, are “quite high,” says Chang.
As Weir says, all he really did was write about how much he loves science, albeit while tormenting his main character with the constant threat of death. “Eh. Mark’s a tough guy. He can handle it,” says Weir.
Undoubtedly it’ll take tough astronauts, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. But more importantly funding, brave people with vision, balanced morals.
And if our un-suspecting hero, Mark Watney is to be immortalized in our first manned missions to Mars, i’d wager the first woman or man will honor Weir’s hero by thinking deeply on which disco hits they will play as they make the first ever human boot-print in the red planet’s dirt.
“It’s almost time for the second harvest.
I wish I had a straw hat and some suspenders.
My reseed of the potatoes went well. I’m beginning to see that crops on Mars are extremely prolific….All natural organic, Martian potatoes. Don’t hear that every day do you?”’
He is the most junior astronaut, botanist and engineer on the Ares 3 Mission. He never ceases wise cracking and laughs because he could only ever be “in command” of the mission if he were the only remaining person. “What do you know? I’m in command,” but what is left to command, and how long it would last, he says.
“LOG ENTRY: SOL 387
Problem is (follow me closely here, the science is pretty complicated), if I cut a hole in the Hab, the air won’t stay inside anymore,” Watney says as he tries to rebuild the Hab and patch it up with spare parts.
Once he has the house back up, he has to figure out how much power he needs to run the big three; the oxygenator, the atmospheric regulator and the water re-claimer. In total, he needs 69.2 pirate-ninjas, a new scientific term to describe “kilowatt-hours-per-sol.” He must retrofit a nuclear reactive lump of plutonium (RTG) that “NASA wouldn’t use on its most homicidal day,” to prevent freezing to death.
In Watney’s bid to return home from Mars, he fights for his life for 18 months. The crew contemplates mutiny to save him, and China’s Space Agency pulls rank, with hidden help at NASA. The slogan “Bring Him Home” refers to the worldwide effort to get him back in one piece, despite his dire straits.
LOG ENTRY: Sol 505
“[09:09] MAV: You’re sending me to space in a convertible.
[09:24] HOUSTON: There will be Hab canvas covering the holes. It will provide enough aerodynamics in Mars’s atmosphere.
[09:38] MAV: So it’s a ragtop. Much better.”
He never ceases to amaze his crew, even to the end: “I admit it’s fatally dangerous,” Watney said. “But consider this: I’d get to fly around like Iron Man.” His plan to use the arm of his suit as a thruster could be a fatal last step.
Watney makes us laugh and chortle and cry out in empathy with his plight; science, engineering, botany, orbital dynamics, potatoes, Disco and all.