It’s easy to think that because the Moon is objectively closer it is easier to go to.
So, you’re saying Aerobraking in the martian atmosphere offsets the higher cost to reach a Mars transfer orbit? I suppose that makes sense, now that I think about it. Though, it’s going to be a bigger pain in the ass getting back to earth from Mars than the moon in both cases.
If something were to happen, and I’m sure that something will, the travel time is only 3 days away and rescue is feasible.
That’s kind of why I’m more presently interested in the moon, actually. Even if you add some delta-v to your credit card, you do get to learn a lot of important lessons before you send people to Mars. Engineering lessons, basically, more than raw energetic considerations.
However, because of the lack of accessible resources to manufacture propellant on the surface, that means you have to land your return propellant reducing payload to the surface of the Moon.
Well, it’s true that you couldn’t use methane on the moon, but liquid hydrogen/LOX would be fine using harvested water. I see this going two ways, and maybe it’s where Blue Origin will develop a niche that is separated from SpaceX with their development of hydrogen fueled engines for this generation of rockets.
I’m hoping that kilopower gets more exposure. Since most of its power output is thermal, it’s best optimized for cold environments, like the poles of the Moon or Mars. I.e. you could melt ice with the heat (harvested by breaking it apart and mildly pressurizing it first), then perform electrolysis. In return, you get more power output since it’s a heat engine and your heat sink absorbs more heat. That’s a pretty solid win.
On both counts, I see nuclear as super useful for space on the surfaces of planetary bodies since the heat output is so high from nuclear in general. Then you can mine/manufacture your shielding (lead) and most of your structures so that you’re just shipping fissile uranium cores. If it works for nuclear submarines, it will work on Mars or the moon with adequate resources mined.
I agree generally speaking though. The moon interests me more right now because it’s easier to get there and back all things considered, and you can get back sooner. Eventually, yes, I would expect more from Mars than the moon in overall population for a lot of reasons. But, as a base to build in 10 years? Moon, hands down.
Both is what I’m going for though, I’m hoping BO (what a terrible acronym, come on Bezos) gets their shit together and gets on the SpaceX development cadence. One for Moon and asteroids, one for Mars.