Elon Musk wants to build a city on Mars, but Werner Herzog says the plans is unequivocally a “mistake.”
SpaceX CEO Musk has a plan to send the first humans to Mars in the mid-2020s, using the under-development Starship rocket. Once they get there, Musk wants to build out a self-sustaining, million-strong city on Mars by 2050.
But famed film director Herzog tells Inverse there is a massive flaw in the latter half of Musk’s plan.
In a blistering criticism, Herzog describes the idea as “an obscenity,” and says humans should “not be like the locusts.”
In the interview, conducted earlier this month prior to the release of a new documentary on asteroids, Herzog also compares Musk’s plan to the rise and collapse of communism and fascism in the 20th century. The 21st century will “quickly” end the “technological utopia like colonizing Mars,” he says.
Want to learn more about Musk’s plans for a SpaceX Mars city? Check out Musk Reads+ for exclusive interviews, analysis, and more.
Herzog is not opposed to going to Mars at all. In fact, the German filmmaker would “love to go [to Mars] with a camera with scientists.” But the long-term vision of a Mars city is a “mistake.”
Herzog’s main concern is that humanity should “rather look to keep our planet inhabitable,” instead of trying to colonize another one.
“We should not be like the locusts, coming, grazing empty our planet, okay, and now where we go next?”
In short, Mars is not a livable place. There is no liquid water at the surface, or air to breathe. Solar wind means inhabitants would be “fried like in a microwave,” Herzog says.
Musk has responded to this kind of criticism before. In 2018, he shared research suggesting water ice exists on Mars in the Korolev crater, and hinted the planet “needs a warmup.” Over time, researchers have detected more than 1.2 million cubic miles of water ice at or near the surface of Mars.
Musk has repeatedly mooted a plan to heat up the planet and release stored carbon dioxide, citing a 1993 research paper as evidence it would work. He claims doing so would enable humans to walk around Mars with just a breathing apparatus.
This claim is controversial to say the least. A 2018 study found that if scientists released Mars’s carbon dioxide stores, it would generate an atmosphere of around 15 millibars of pressure — far below the 1,000 millibars found at Earth’s sea level. Musk responded to the research by writing that “there’s a massive amount of CO2 on Mars adsorbed into soil that’d be released upon heating,” but the evidence is lacking.
“The thought alone is an obscenity.”
Researchers have also voiced concerns about the effects of space radiation on Mars. Musk said in 2016 that it’s “not deadly” and “not too big of a deal,” but studies done on the International Space Station and Earth suggest time spent in space does have significant health consequences. To get around the problem, in 2017 Musk proposed solar storm shelters on the ships designed to double up as the first habitats. NASA scientists have proposed a magnetic shield to protect against solar winds, too.
Another problem Herzog has with Musk’s ambitions is to do with the plan to use the refuelable Starship to fly to Mars, set up a base and means to create more fuel, and then let the ships return home or venture out further by establishing bases along the way. While Musk’s plan for a “multi-planetary species” is ambitious, Herzog is not convinced.
“I think Elon Musk stylizes himself as some sort of a technological visionary,” Herzog says. “Because he has to sell his electric cars, wonderful that he does that. He has to sell his reusable rockets. Wonderful that he’s doing it.”
“But I disagree with him when he postulates and preaches about colonizing Mars,” Herzog says.
“And I have to tell not only Elon Musk, but everyone. And so I say it as straightforward as it can be… it is an obscenity. The thought alone is an obscenity.”
Musk has been criticized before for focusing on moving to Mars rather than fixing Earth. In a 2019 on-stage appearance with Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire told Musk that Earth “needs more heroes…improving things every day.”
The SpaceX CEO replied: “I think important for us to take the set of actions that are most likely to continue consciousness into the future” — in case something happens to Earth, in other words.
Herzog compares Musk’s utopian vision to that of communism and fascism. Herzog says the 20th century was “in its entirety a mistake,” which brought “the demise of great social utopias” like communism “as being the paradise on earth.”
“No, it failed,” Herzog says. “Second failure, fascism, Aryan master race will dominate and improve our planet Earth and really improve humanity. Thank God, both these gigantic utopias were brought to an end.”
The same will happen to Musk’s Mars city, Herzog predicts.
“Our century very quickly will bring to an end technological utopia like colonizing Mars. We will end this utopia very, very quickly within this century.”
Herzog has discussed Musk’s Mars ambitions with him before. In the 2016 documentary Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World, Herzog asked Musk during an interview for a “one-way ticket” to Mars, adding that “I’d be your candidate.”
Musk’s response at the time suggested that he’s aware not everyone shares his enthusiasm: “I do think we’ll want to offer round trips because a lot more people would be willing to go if they think that, if they don’t like it, they can come back,” Musk said.
But if the reason humanity leaves Earth is because our own planet is in a mess, returning home might be easier said than done.
Watch the largest Earth-observing satellite ever launch into space – Inverse
On Saturday, the journey of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite began.
The largest Earth-observing satellite took off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 12:17 p.m. Eastern from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
In just a few months, the satellite will begin collecting data on rising sea levels here on Earth, offering scientists a bird’s eye view of one of the hardest to measure affects of climate change.
After it launched into orbit, the satellite separated from the rocket and spread its solar arrays in a truly stunning display.
See the video of the launch here:
Once in the air, Sentinel-6 sent a signal to ground control confirming the spacecraft is in good health and ready to start a series of check-ups and last-minute calibrations. After these are completed, the spacecraft will begin its true mission.
Sentinel-6 is a joint venture by NASA and the European Space Agency, European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
A disturbing trend — The mission’s main objective is to collect data on global sea levels and chart climate change’s effects on the Earth’s oceans. The mission will run for a period of five and a half years.
As global temperatures rise, melting glaciers and ice sheets have combined with the thermal expansion of seawater to increase sea levels at an alarming rate. Since 1880, global mean sea level has risen about 8–9 inches, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“The changing Earth processes are affecting sea level globally, but the impact on local communities varies widely. International collaboration is critical to both understanding these changes and informing coastal communities around the world.”
Sentinel-6 builds on the legacy of ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission. First launched in 2014, it remains the most ambitious Earth observation program to date.
Space agencies have played a crucial role in documenting the effects of changing global temperatures on our planet for years. Sentinel-6 brings an unprecedented level of precision to this effort.
A new era — The Copernicus Sentinel-6 mission includes two identical satellites, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich and Sentinel-6B, which will launch five years apart and supply scientists with data until at least the year 2030.
Unlike previous Earth-observation missions, the Sentinel-6 observatory will collect measurements at a much higher resolution and be able to trace smaller sea-level variations near coastlines.
The way it does this is through a radar altimeter instrument, which calculates the distance between the satellite and Earth by measuring the time it takes for a transmitted radar pulse to reflect Earth’s surface. The returned echo pulse from the sea surface generates a waveform that reveals the height of the sea’s surface and the waves, as well as the surface wind speed from the roughness of the ocean, in real time.
All of these measures support ocean forecasting — crucial to sustainable ocean-resource management, coastal management, and environmental protection, as well as the fishing industry.
“The data from this satellite, which is so critical for climate monitoring and weather forecasting, will be of unprecedented accuracy,” Alain Ratier, director-general for the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, said in a statement.
“These data, which can only be obtained by measurements from space, will bring a wide range of benefits to people around the globe, from safer ocean travel to more precise prediction of hurricane paths, from greater understanding of sea level rise to more accurate seasonal weather forecasts, and so much more.”
Jupiter and Saturn Will Form a Rare 'Double Planet' in the Sky Before Christmas – Yahoo Finance
Investors are in the market to make a profit, and that means finding the stocks with proven growth potential. Yes, it’s a cliché to remind everyone that past performance does not guarantee future results, but when a stock consistently shows strong share appreciation, over an extended period, it’s a positive sign for investors.With more than ten months behind us, the stocks that are now showing a combination of strong gains and a high near- to mid-term potential are going to attract investor interest.Bearing this in mind, we set out to find stocks flagged as exciting growth plays by Wall Street. Using TipRanks’ database, we locked in on three analyst-backed names that have already notched impressive gains and boast strong growth narratives for the long-term. Bandwidth, Inc. (BAND)We start in the communications software sector, where Bandwidth is a leading provider of VoIP systems, using its application programming interfaces (API) to offer customers both text and voice capabilities. The company’s products include applications for voice calling, text messaging, local phone numbers via internet, and 911 emergency phone system access. Bandwidth has developed and built its own network for voice over internet, helping to guarantee connectivity.Like many online tech companies, BAND has benefitted from the 2020’s shift to remote work. The move into the virtual office space has put a premium on internet communications, and BAND shares have reflected that – the stock is up an impressive 135% year-to-date. The company’s Q3 earnings were also strong – and at 14 cents per share were far above the 12 cent net EPS loss expected. Revenues for the third quarter came in at $84.8 million, for a 40% year-over-year increase.In addition to positive revenues and earnings, Bandwidth has also shown sound liquidity. The company had over $300 million in cash and cash equivalents available at the end of September, while liabilities totaled only $57.8 million.Finally, earlier this month, Bandwidth completed its acquisition of the European cloud communications company Voxbone. The deal was valued at 446 million Euros, or more than $520 million in US currency. The transaction included 354.6 million Euros in cash, and the remainder in stock.Bandwidth’s growth and healthy future prospects caught the attention of 5-star analyst Michael Walkley. Writing from Canaccord, this top analyst said, “With Covid-19 impacting the way we work, learn, and interact for the foreseeable future, we believe Bandwidth is a long-term beneficiary from anticipated strong growth trends due to increased customer usage of their platform. We believe revenue growth should remain strong given our expectations for some permanent long-term changes with an increased remote work environment driving both increasing usage from existing customers and layering in the potential for stronger new customer growth.”To this end, Walkley puts a Buy rating on BAND shares, and his $225 price target suggests room for nearly 50% upside in the next 12 months. (To watch Walkley’s track record, click here)Overall, BAND gets a Moderate Buy rating form the analyst consensus, based on 5 reviews, including 4 Buys and 1 Sell. The shares are priced at $150.50, and the average price target of $192.20 implies a one-year upside of ~28%. (See BAND stock analysis on TipRanks)Wayfair, Inc. (W)From cloud communications we move on to e-commerce, where Wayfair is a leader in the home goods and furniture sector. E-commerce has seen heavy gains during the COVID pandemic, as customers moved larger portions of their shopping online. The stock shows that, having grown 180% year-to-date.Earnings have also reflected strong sales during the pandemic period. EPS turned positive in Q2, coming in at $2.54 against a 55-cent forecast. In Q3, the earnings per share was $1.80, beating the estimate by 300%. Revenues are high, too, with the $3.8 billion in Q3 representing a 66% year-over-year gain. And like Bandwidth above, Wayfair has a sound balance sheet, with $2.6 billion in cash and liquid assets reported at the end of the third quarter.These fiscal gains stand on the shoulders of solid sales performance. Wayfair reported 11.3 million orders from repeat customers in Q3, making up almost 72% of the quarter’s total orders. Active customers in the company’s Direct Retail business segment increased 50% yoy, and reached 28.8 million.Peter Keith, 5-star analyst with Piper Sandler, writes of Wayfair, “Looking forward, KPI’s repeat customers (% of orders) and revenue per average customer (LTM) both hit all-time highs and suggest Wayfair will grow revenues nicely off a larger base of customers… We maintain our bullish thesis as above-trend sales growth is likely to persist at least into early 2021, and margins are expanding far above expectations – with longer-term drivers coming into focus.”It should come as no surprise, then, that Keith stays with the bulls. In addition to an Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating, he left a $370 price target on the stock. Investors could be pocketing a gain of 47%, should this target be met in the twelve months ahead. (To watch Keith’s track record, click here)Overall, Wayfair has 20 reviews on record, including 10 Buys, 7 Hold, and 3 Sell, making the analyst consensus view a Moderate Buy. W stock is selling for $251.70 and has an average price target of $312.63, making the upside potential 24% for the coming months. (See Wayfair’s stock analysis on TipRanks)Schrodinger (SDGR)Last but not least is Schrodinger, a software company that develops applications for the life sciences and materials sciences industries. In short, the company builds the software platforms that allows customers to evaluate experimental compounds. Schrodinger describes its software as a physics-based platform, integrating solutions for collaboration, data analytics, and predictive modeling in chemistry. The platform is used extensively in the pharmaceutical industry, but also in aerospace, energy, and semiconductors.Schrodinger went public in February of this year, just as the corona crisis was ramping up, and quickly saw strong share gains. At the IPO, the stock sold for $26 per share, well above the initial pricing of $17. The company sold well over 11.8 million shares, making the opening one of the year’s most successful. Since then, SDGR shares have more than doubled, gaining nearly 140% in their first nine months of public trading.Revenues have remained consistent during the year, with the first three quarters of 2020 showing the top line between $23 and $26 million. The Q3 number, at $25 million, is right in the middle of that range. The Q3 top line beat the forecast by 10%Covering this stock for BMO, 5-star analyst Do Kim writes, “We believe the 42% y/y growth in software revenues reflects the accelerating adoption of computational drug discovery, in addition to a growing customer base. We expect software growth to continue into 2021, as we believe the pandemic trend of remote work is sticky, with increasing platform validation from collaborations.”In line with this upbeat outlook, Kim rates SDGR shares an Outperform (i.e. Buy) along with a $94 price target. This figure indicates confidence in a 37% one-year upside potential. (To watch Kim’s track record, click here)All in all, Schrodinger’s Strong Buy consensus rating is based on 3 Buys and 1 Hold. The stock has an average price target of $83, giving it a 21% upside from the current trading price of $68.52. (See SDGR stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for growth stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.
China's 'space dream': A Long March to the Moon – RFI
Issued on: 24/11/2020 – 04:36Modified: 24/11/2020 – 04:35
China’s launch this week of an unmanned spacecraft aimed at bringing back lunar rocks — the first attempt by any nation to retrieve samples from the Moon in four decades — underlines just how far the country has come in achieving its “space dream”.
Beijing has poured billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022 and of eventually sending humans to the Moon.
China has come a long way in its race to catch up with the United States and Russia, whose astronauts and cosmonauts have had decades of experience in space exploration.
Beijing sees its military-run space programme as a marker of its rising global stature and growing technological might.
Here is a look at China’s space programme through the decades, and where it is headed:
Soon after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, Chairman Mao Zedong pronounced “we too will make satellites.”
It took more than a decade, but in 1970, China’s first satellite lifted into space on the back of a Long March rocket.
Human space flight took decades longer, with Yang Liwei becoming China’s first astronaut to go into space in 2003.
As the launch approached, concerns over the viability of the mission caused Beijing to cancel a nationwide live television broadcast at the last minute.
Despite the fears, the launch went off smoothly, with Yang orbiting the Earth 14 times during his 21-hour flight aboard the Shenzhou 5.
Since then, China has sent men and women into space with increasing regularity.
Space station and ‘Jade Rabbit’
Following in the footsteps of the United States and Russia, China is striving to open a space station circling our planet.
The Tiangong-1 was shot into orbit in September 2011.
In 2013, the second Chinese woman in space, Wang Yaping, gave a video class from inside the space module beamed back to children across the world’s most populous country.
The lab was also used for medical experiments and, most importantly, tests intended to prepare for the building of a space station.
The lab was followed by the “Jade Rabbit” lunar rover in 2013, which looked at first like a dud when it turned dormant and stopped sending signals back to Earth.
The rover made a dramatic recovery, though, ultimately surveying the Moon’s surface for 31 months, well beyond its expected lifespan.
In 2016, China launched its second station, the Tiangong-2 lab into orbit 393 kilometres (244 miles) above Earth, in what analysts say will likely serve as a final building block before China launches a manned space station.
Astronauts who have visited the station have run experiments on growing rice and other plants, as well as docking spacecraft.
Under President Xi Jinping, plans for China’s “space dream”, as he calls it, have been put into overdrive.
The new superpower is looking to finally catch up with the US and Russia after years of belatedly matching their space milestones.
The ambitions start with a space station of its own — China was deliberately left out of the International Space Station effort — with the assembly of pieces in space expected to start this year and manned use to begin around 2022.
China is also planning to build a base on the Moon, with Zhang Kejian, head of the country’s National Space Administration saying last year that the country aimed to establish a lunar mission by 2029.
But lunar work was dealt a setback in 2017 when the Long March-5 Y2, a powerful heavy-lift rocket, failed to launch on a mission to send communication satellites into orbit.
The failure forced the postponement of the launch of Chang’e-5, which was originally scheduled to collect Moon samples in the second half of 2017.
Another robot, the Chang’e-4, landed on the far side of the Moon in January 2019 — a historic first.
China’s astronauts and scientists have also talked up manned missions to Mars as Beijing strives to become a global space power.
© 2020 AFP
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