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Regarding the Chinese scenes in The Martian, it didn't help when I recognised the filming location: Budapest's ugly new Palace of Arts doubled as China's space centre. It says something of outdated American notions of China that they thought the 40-year-old East German trains running on the nearby suburban line are a fitting background, and that not even for the present (when China's metros are already the most modern in the world) but at least 15 years in the future.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Oct 5th, 2015 at 03:47:03 PM EST
Martian Science?

The article was written by an advocate for an immediate voyage however.


The US space programme today is frozen in its tracks. Nasa talks about sending humans to Mars in 2043, but that's just postponing it for another generation. We're much closer today to being able to send people to Mars than we were to sending people to the Moon in 1961. If Barack Obama's successor were to commit the nation, in the spring of 2017, with the same kind of courage and determination that JFK did in 1961, we could be on Mars before the end of his or her second term. It's a question of political will to me. That's the real positive message of The Martian. It's saying, "we can do it. If we use our minds, we can take on all these challenges".


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Oct 6th, 2015 at 01:39:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How scientifically accurate is The Martian? | Film | The Guardian
...the ship was so big and elaborate and expensive-looking. Going to Mars is not about realising the vision of a giant science-fiction spaceship, it is about sending a payload from Earth to Mars that is capable of supporting a small group of people, and then sending that or a comparable payload back. There'll be ships like that some day, just like there were ocean liners a few hundred years after Columbus made his voyage. But if Columbus had waited for ocean liners, or even clipper ships, he never would have gone anywhere.

On this one, I am less negative, for two reasons. First, the spaceship in the film seemed to have an ion drive, which makes a much lower fuel mass per payload mass ratio possible, plus almost all of the spaceship can be re-usable (as in the film). So, if the technology is available by the time of a Mars mission, it could be cost-effective. Second, the greatest danger to astronauts on a Mars mission is cosmic rays (the film said little about this BTW), which you can deal with if you have an on-board magnetic field, and methinks you need a larger spaceship for that, too.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Oct 7th, 2015 at 06:51:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Too powerful to be an ion drive. Most likely something like this: https://www.nasa.gov/pdf/718391main_Werka_2011_PhI_FFRE.pdf

First you take a dozen nuclear warheads, then you take them apart, and grind the cores into nano-scale dust. Radioactive decay will make this dust very highly electrically charged, which means you can - in low gravities - suspend it in magnetic fields. So you take a magnetic bottle, expose it to vaccum, surround it with a moderator, and pour in bombdust until it goes critical. Since this reactor core is mostly vaccuum, each atom that splits mostly doesn't turn into heat - instead the halves of the former fissile atom try to leave the magnetic bottle going at 4-5 percent of the speed of light. Use more magnets to point this stream of particles out the back, and it's a rocket. An absurdly good rocket. I mean, you can't take off from anything bigger than ceres using it, and you should avoid pointing the exhaust directly at planet earth (as long as you point it even slightly away from any planets, the exhaust will be leaving the solar system shortly. So, no this isn't a polluting engine...) but.. the isp's and the masses it allows you to move are very impressive.
Space exploration fueled by disarmament, what's not to like?

by Thomas on Sun Oct 11th, 2015 at 09:07:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For what it's worth, Ridley Scott is British. Anyway, he is a very visually-oriented director but can be quite relaxed about details. The Counselor is set in the Texan-Mexico borderlands, but was mostly filmed in Spain and the UK. Scott passed off Canada Square in Canary Wharf as downtown El Paso, and there's also a nightclub where the exterior is a modern industrial unit in Spain and the interior is "underneath the arches" of a Victorian railway viaduct. There are even a few scenes where inconvenient backgrounds are blocked by red London buses...
by Gag Halfrunt on Wed Oct 7th, 2015 at 07:07:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ridley Scott is British

Yeah I know, but by now he is thoroughly Americanised...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Oct 7th, 2015 at 08:33:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That reminds me, CSR Zhouzhou is building EMUs and DMUs for Macedonia, which are low floor and compliant with TSI requirements. I dare say the first order for Chinese passenger trains from an EU operator will come in the next few years, if it hasn't already happened.
by Gag Halfrunt on Mon Oct 12th, 2015 at 07:21:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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