NASA, Mars One, or SpaceX: Who Has the Best Chance of Getting to Mars?

Who has the best chance of success for reaching Mars by 2030? Government-funded programs or private organizations?

NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce wants to give people a dose of reality when it comes to the Mars mission. The finalists in the Mars One pool have been whittled down to 100 colonist hopefuls, but Mary Lynne Dittmar, an aerospace consultant, says:


"The distances that are involved and the complexities that are involved in going and staying there are really enormous."

In Dittmar's interview with NPR, she lists all the cards stacked against the Mars mission, like supplying enough oxygen and food, landing on a planet with such a thin atmosphere, coping with the cancerous radiation and dust, and so on. But Bas Lansdorp, Mars One's CEO, isn't planning for launch tomorrow. The group's mission date falls on the year 2025, just five years ahead of NASA's own stated goal to get a colony on Mars.

When it comes to the most likely to succeed, Robert Zubrin, an aerospace engineer who heads the Mars Society, isn't placing his bets on NASA or Mars One, but SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, shows the most promise.

"He developed spacecraft for one-tenth the cost and one-third the time that NASA and the aerospace major companies have done."

So far, Musk has the proof, where Mars One has only marketing, and the funds, where NASA has been prone to government budget cuts. He's said he expects SpaceX to be Mars-ready in 10 to 20 years — a timeline that seems to mirror NASA's own expectations of when we'll get to the Red Planet. Only time will tell.

For Neil deGrasse Tyson, there's a lot of delusional thinking when it comes to commercial space flight. Using history to draw his conclusions, Tyson doesn't see a privatized flight being first — there's too much risk and no reward.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
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Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

Videos
  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

Trauma in childhood leads to empathy in adulthood

It's not just a case of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Mind & Brain

  • A new study suggests children who endure trauma grow up to be adults with more empathy than others.
  • The effect is not universal, however. Only one kind of empathy was greatly effected.
  • The study may lead to further investigations into how people cope with trauma and lead to new ways to help victims bounce back.
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Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

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