EMTP wrote:ucim wrote:But in any case, I think it's very important to have a stable space infrastructure in place before setting out to colonize Mars, or anyplace in the solar system. This includes the political or commercial will to do it. This would necessarily include a vision, and I suppose that's why we're here.
It seems to me that the keystone of that is a strong orbital presence. This offers potential economic benefits such as asteroid mining (after nudging them into earth orbit,) space-based solar power, zero-g manufacturing, tourism and basic science research.
Orbital stations would provide ideal conditions for the use of low impulse, low weight craft such as ion-engine spacecraft or solar sails. You're probably going to want that before you embark on further manned exploration of the solar system.
Pretty much. Some research on that is currently happening via picosats, because they're a super-cheap way(in space exploration moneys) to test out concepts in space. Of course, those have pretty severe mass/size limitations, so for scaled up versions, we'll definitely want some orbital stations.
The same principle applies regardless, perfect stuff as cheaply as possible, burning as little money on lifting stuff far, far away. Don't test in geostationary what you can test in LEO, and likewise, don't test on mars what you can test in orbit.
Decrying profit is...whatever. Most of us are pretty okay with spending on pure research, but just ignoring efficiency doesn't seem justified.