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SpaceXtasy: Elon Musk, Falcon 9, and the Legacy of Rocket Scientist/Occultist Jack Parsons

SpaceXtasy Elon Musk Falcon 9 and the Legacy of Rocket Scientist Occultist Jack Parsons


Musk isn’t the only one dreaming of a human colony on Mars. NASA has its own plans, “with human missions to the surface of Mars as the driving goal.” Another private spaceflight project called Mars One, funded by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, wants to put humans on Mars by 2025 and film the entire process as a reality TV show, meaning we might be in the midst of a new space race that pits privately owned companies against public ones for the rights to the title of “first Martian.” According to Mars One, more than 200,000 people applied for the one-way trip to Mars it is hoping to eventually execute. (Isn’t that the plot of Total Recall?)

But not so fast on the Mars race, everyone. MIT concluded last year that humans could only live on Mars for 68 days, tops, and that a permanent settlement on Mars is “not feasible” with current technology. It used damning facts to poke holes in a number of Mars One’s assertions about Mars colonization. Oxygen extraction would be necessary in greenhouses on Mars to prevent the overly oxygenated air from catching fire. While oxygen extraction is possible, it’s never been tested in space. If astronauts are sent to colonize with no plans to return, as put forth in Mars to Stayplans that include Mars One, the worst-case scenario is a MartianJamestown.1

Conceptualizing notions straight out of science fiction — rockets to the moon, human colonies on Mars — and actually executing them takes absurd amounts of chutzpah. Musk seems like the most serious candidate to really try to make his vision happen, and he has chutzpah to burn. He said the Falcon 9’s drone-ship landing had a 50 percent chance of success, and then later admitted, “I pretty much made that up. I have no idea.”

Stashed in: Awesome, Mars!, @elonmusk, NASA, NASA to Me, SpaceX, Space, Grantland!, Space the Final Frontier?, Elon Musk, Mars Humans, SpaceX!

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Too bad chutzpah isn't actual fuel.

With chutzpah comes the ability to marshall resources. Fuel comes from resources.

The history of rockets often reads like science fiction — which maybe makes sense, since rocket scientists are often inspired by science fiction.

The history of rockets is dotted with mad scientists, chemical engineers in the basement mixing up the medicine and running tests in barns and fields — especially in California. Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on January 10 at 4:47 a.m. ET, but a few of the SpaceX launches planned for 2015 will occur near Lompoc, California, at the Vandenberg Air Force Base. The base is a couple of hours up the coast from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the research center and NASA field site cofounded by John Whiteside Parsons, better known as Jack Parsons, who was a rocket scientist and Thelemite occultist.

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