January 21, 2017
Dear President Trump:

Congratulations on your Inauguration as President of the United States.

During your speech you mentioned space, and I know from reading the news that a Mars mission is something your team might be considering. While there are ample technically capable people at NASA, I thought you might like to hear a suggestion about what might fire up ordinary people in the US, and I dare say all over the world, about embarking on such a project.

Instead of being just a US project, make it a competition between the US, Russian, and any other government that wants to take a go at it. The governments each build one or more Earth - Mars ferries using technology that has been relatively well tested, but "forbidden" and mothballed. Included as part of the government side of the project would be emergency vehicles that can transport people between the ferries, or keep them alive till they can be picked up. Private companies (like SpaceX) using well tested technologies can build the systems that get stuff between the ground and Earth orbit and a ferry, and down from the ferry to Mars1. They can do this for whatever projects they care to take on, and can take a ride on any government's ferry. The governments get to claim any territory on Mars first accessed from one of their ferries.

NASA should be able to confirm that this is really possible, almost today! Just ask them about NERVA2 - ORION3 is stupid, but NERVA really makes sense on a ferry, as opposed to being used as a launch technology. The Russians have something equivalent; the Chinese probably not, but could quickly catch up. Others would have a harder time.

War has often been the competitive element that brought new technology out of the shadows into the real world, instead of being quietly buried in some private hands. Lets try a different way to introduce the competitive element at the top of society, and so get the animal spirits going throughout world society that brings on huge economic growth. Lets find a way to allow technology that exists to be used!

And while you are at it, on a different scientific subject, you might call in Phil5 Hagelstein and ask him to tell you about LENR6, and how real that is.

Good luck and best wishes!


Follow up

  1. SPD-1 (reauthorizing humans in space), Artemis Program (landers are commercial!)
  2. SPD-6 (authorizing nuclear propulsion systems)
  3. The "ORION" where A-bombs provided thrust
  4. China invests in private space industry since 2016
  5. That should be Peter, not Phil
  6. Redaction no longer required, NASA is being very public about "Lattice Confinement Fusion" and its uses - and the oil industry has noticed.