VShe recent times, with the success of small suborbital flights by tax-exempt billionaires wishing to develop (very) small niche space tourism, all the media have been enthusiastic about these successes considered spectacular. However, such flights have existed since… 1960 (!) With the US Air Force’s X15 aircraft, admittedly reserved for experienced pilots, including Neil Armstrong, the first lunar “tourist” 52 years ago.
The technological innovation of current machines is therefore very modest, the need for rocket engines is still relevant: impossible to leave the planet without a profusion of technological means, but at a disastrous environmental cost at all levels (funding, natural resources). and… pollution).
However, we have all dreamed of becoming astronauts, of escaping from Earth and discovering new worlds, science fiction novels in this regard carry a powerful imagination! But these are (science) -fiction novels and not science, should it be remembered?
If Elon Musk, with his company Space X, largely aided by NASA, and its many successes, is the most advanced, and runs the most serious of these companies – Reusable Falcon; Crew Dragon capsule supplying astronauts and equipment to the international space station; contract for the return of American astronauts to the Moon – we will notice that everything is done in a perfectly classic approach, that of space exploration developed by States for sixty years now, for partly commercial purposes, but sum quite classic, commercial satellites having always existed.
However, the avowed and repeated goal of Elon Musk is none other than the planet Mars, not for a few trips for technical and scientific purposes as were those of Apollo on the Moon, but for the purpose of installation. and above all of colonization (a word that has a strong connotation at the present time!) of the Red Planet, underlying the idea that, after the exhaustion of resources on Earth, Mars would extend its arms to us, in a kind of new Wild West with “unlimited” promises.
But Mars is not, far from it, a habitable planet. It should be noted in passing that the concept of habitability, widely used by astrophysicists and astrobiologists, is a catch-all concept widely contested in the scientific community and that no precise definition can be given. Habitable by whom or by what? Habitable at what stage of planetary evolution or even biological evolution? Prebiotic chemistry, unicellular then multicellular bacteria, plants, animals?
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