Author Topic: Skepticism about space colonization  (Read 24133 times)

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #20 on: 09/13/2017 10:49 PM »
For a person to permanently move to a new place, two conditions must be satisfied:

1. The new place need to be better than the old one, and not just a bit better, but significantly better to overcome the activation energy barrier of routine and laziness.
Easy. There are plenty of places on Earth full of people who would sign up in a heartbeat if they got 3 square meals a day and no one killing them at random.

Unfortunately most of them don't have US passports.  :( This is one of the disconnects this concept has. Those best motivated to make it work are those least likely to ever be offered the opportunity.

Quote from: Eerie
2. Travel to the new place needs to be affordable.
That's going to be tough.  :( We have some historical data for passages from Liverpool to the US. IIRC steerage class was about about several months wages, not several years. So it was risky, and tough, but not impossible
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline Lar

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #21 on: 09/14/2017 02:23 AM »
JS19: go 20 posts without using :( even once and I'll see if I can find it.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline darkenfast

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #22 on: 09/14/2017 03:51 AM »
The "tin can" approach sounds really depressing until you dress it up a little.  How many first-world younger types today would be willing to live in a really big shopping mall type of environment, with parks attached, challenging jobs, a safe place to bring the kids up and the pride of being part of a new phase of humanities existence?  Sci-fi writers have beaten this one to death, but how long would it take for that population to regard living on a dirt-ball with distaste?  As much as I enjoy SpaceX, I wonder if the habitat idea may be a better solution than living somewhere with reduced gravity.  Ideally, both approaches will be tried.

The scarier future is one where there is no point in big colonies because there is nothing for most of the population to do, since almost everything out there can be done better by machines.  We may make ourselves obsolete as a space-faring species before we really get started.

Offline scienceguy

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #23 on: 09/14/2017 04:22 AM »
space will be easier colonized when there are technology breakthroughs like fusion and carbon nanotubes. Those things will make space a lot easier, and, they are not far off.
e^(pi)i = -1

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #24 on: 09/14/2017 06:57 AM »
space will be easier colonized when there are technology breakthroughs like fusion and carbon nanotubes. Those things will make space a lot easier, and, they are not far off.
How many decades have they been " not far off" so far?

There are always plenty of reasons to not do something.

Unfortunately they seem to be working.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline zhangmdev

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #25 on: 09/14/2017 07:24 AM »
Because current economical / political system is incapable of producing those technology breakthroughs.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #26 on: 09/14/2017 10:58 AM »
JS19: go 20 posts without using :( even once and I'll see if I can find it.
I'll look forward to the thread being recovered. 4 posts and counting.
« Last Edit: 09/14/2017 11:00 AM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Online Jim Davis

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #27 on: 09/14/2017 12:51 PM »
How many first-world younger types today would be willing to live in a really big shopping mall type of environment, with parks attached, challenging jobs, a safe place to bring the kids up and the pride of being part of a new phase of humanities existence?

If they can convince their parents to pay for "a really big shopping mall type of environment, with parks attached" on Mars you might get some takers.

You can imagine a luxurious lifestyle just about anywhere you please. Paying for it is the problem.

Offline Svetoslav

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #28 on: 09/14/2017 12:53 PM »
The argument that space colonization skeptics have put forward is that "no one even wants to move to Antarctica (except for a few thousand researchers, and they are not permanent residents), therefore colonization of Mars and other places in space will never happen." People such as myself like to dream of a wonderful sci-fi future in which interplanetary travel for humans is commonplace, but do we know how many people want to actually move to places that are worse than the most inhospitable places on Earth, and are able and willing to pay for it? Will the exoticism of living on Mars and the appeal of making humanity a multi-planetary species wear off after a few hundred or thousand people move there? Can a colony ever be completely independent from Earth such that it can be used as a back-up for humanity?

Greetings,

The key word in your passage is "dream".

Unfortunately, dreams alone don't make reality come true.

I'd really suggest this article:

Is a dream a lie if it donít come true?

by Dwayne Day

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3231/1

Offline incoming

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #29 on: 09/14/2017 02:36 PM »
How many first-world younger types today would be willing to live in a really big shopping mall type of environment, with parks attached, challenging jobs, a safe place to bring the kids up and the pride of being part of a new phase of humanities existence?

If they can convince their parents to pay for "a really big shopping mall type of environment, with parks attached" on Mars you might get some takers.

You can imagine a luxurious lifestyle just about anywhere you please. Paying for it is the problem.

We already have the technological capability to build ocean-going shopping mall sized habitats.  People venture out on them for a few days or even weeks but no one is building a permanent home out on (or under) the ocean in any large numbers.  From a technology perspective, there's nothing stopping us from building simlar sized habitats on the glaciers of Greenland.  During the cold war there were several missile warning radar sites built in the arctic that are quite a bit more substantial than the small research outposts we keep "on the ice" now.  Put half a dozen of those together and you could house a pretty major settlement.  And you could actually do it a lot easier.  Arctic researchers are experimenting with creating huge ice cave habitats using snow blowers to dig trenches, inflating large balloons in the trenches, covering the balloons with the snow from the excavation, then deflating the balloon.  The resulting structure is more structurally sound than if it had been made with concrete.

The point is that the argument posted by the OP is tough to get by. There are lots of places on Earth where you could, for several orders of magnitude less money and at less risk to human life, create habitats that would be comparable to anything we could create in space in the foreseeable future.  These habitats would have access to far more natural resources, be easier to get to and from, be far more amenable to cultivate food and other agricultural products, and generally be surrounded by much less deadly environments than anything we'll find off Earth in our solar system. 

So why would we want to settle space?  Because eventually - maybe on the scale of tens of thousands of years, maybe less - the above will cease to be true. The growth of Earth's population will eventually become limited by the Earth system itself.  And at that point it will be too late to expend precious resources investing in an off planet settlement, because that will mean taking precious resources away from keeping people alive on Earth. 

In order to avoid this, we (probably governments) will need leverage the relative abundance we now enjoy, and channel some of our "excess" resources to subsidize the development of off-world settlements, probably for hundreds of years.  Some of them will fail completely and probably kill everyone there.  It will take many, many cycles of collapse before we figure it out. Through all of that, we'll have to sustain that investment and commitment and we'll have to avoid collapses of our terrestrial civilization that would wipe out the abundance that allows us to invest off-world.  If we can somehow figure that out, then, and only then, we might have a chance of permanently expanding our civilization into space and overcoming the inherent population limitations of our home planet.

What are the chances that's going to happen?  Who knows, but it certainly won't happen if we don't keep working on it. 

Offline tdperk

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #30 on: 09/14/2017 03:25 PM »
For a person to permanently move to a new place, two conditions must be satisfied:

1. The new place need to be better than the old one, and not just a bit better, but significantly better to overcome the activation energy barrier of routine and laziness.

2. Travel to the new place needs to be affordable.

The prospect of future betterment can be quite compelling.  The American prairie was settled by people living a middle class existence scrimping to save and selling out in Boston/NewYorkCity/Philly for the privilege of spending years in a sod covered slit trench for several years while wondering if they would be massacred.

If the current political elites prevail ("Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?" - Axel Oxenstierna"), simply getting out from under people who are willing to tolerate the likes of Antifa (stand down the police, anyone?) will be a quite compelling attraction.

The key development is that the cost of access to space falls to where a US middle class family can sell out, buy into a colonial effort, and thereby expect to secure themselves an in sum more preferable life and future and part and parcel of that is that rights of free association are protected from Earthly interference, such that colonists can form their own sovereign polity.

I think we are there at costs less than $100/lb to LEO; and I think SpaceX can get us there in the next decade.
« Last Edit: 09/14/2017 03:58 PM by tdperk »

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #31 on: 09/14/2017 04:23 PM »
For a person to permanently move to a new place, two conditions must be satisfied:

1. The new place need to be better than the old one, and not just a bit better, but significantly better to overcome the activation energy barrier of routine and laziness.

2. Travel to the new place needs to be affordable.

The prospect of future betterment can be quite compelling.  The American prairie was settled by people living a middle class existence scrimping to save and selling out in Boston/NewYorkCity/Philly for the privilege of spending years in a sod covered slit trench for several years while wondering if they would be massacred.

If the current political elites prevail ("Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?" - Axel Oxenstierna"), simply getting out from under people who are willing to tolerate the likes of Antifa (stand down the police, anyone?) will be a quite compelling attraction.

The key development is that the cost of access to space falls to where a US middle class family can sell out, buy into a colonial effort, and thereby expect to secure themselves an in sum more preferable life and future and part and parcel of that is that rights of free association are protected from Earthly interference, such that colonists can form their own sovereign polity.

I think we are there at costs less than $100/lb to LEO; and I think SpaceX can get us there in the next decade.
It's taken them 15 years to get to $1236/lb. They hope FH will get them to $651/lb.

FH is 4 years behind first expected launch and probably 5 by the time it first launches.

So how do you expect them to achieve the other 6.5x reduction?
« Last Edit: 09/14/2017 08:53 PM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline tdperk

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #32 on: 09/14/2017 04:32 PM »
For a person to permanently move to a new place, two conditions must be satisfied:

1. The new place need to be better than the old one, and not just a bit better, but significantly better to overcome the activation energy barrier of routine and laziness.

2. Travel to the new place needs to be affordable.

The prospect of future betterment can be quite compelling.  The American prairie was settled by people living a middle class existence scrimping to save and selling out in Boston/NewYorkCity/Philly for the privilege of spending years in a sod covered slit trench for several years while wondering if they would be massacred.

If the current political elites prevail ("Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?" - Axel Oxenstierna"), simply getting out from under people who are willing to tolerate the likes of Antifa (stand down the police, anyone?) will be a quite compelling attraction.

The key development is that the cost of access to space falls to where a US middle class family can sell out, buy into a colonial effort, and thereby expect to secure themselves an in sum more preferable life and future and part and parcel of that is that rights of free association are protected from Earthly interference, such that colonists can form their own sovereign polity.

I think we are there at costs less than $100/lb to LEO; and I think SpaceX can get us there in the next decade.
It's taken them 15 years to get to $1236/lb. They hope FH will get them to $651/lb.

FH is 4 years behind first expected launch and probably 5 by the time it first launches.

So you you expect them them to achieve the other 6.5x reduction?

Absolutely, with the MethaLOx/ITS concept vehicle, and within the next ten years, since some portions of that system seem to have been in development already for at least three already.

It may take competition from other competent competitors to force them to drop their price in $/lb to be close to the cost to themselves.

But that's what BO is for, right?

Nevermind what Bezos thinks it's for. 8)
« Last Edit: 09/14/2017 04:34 PM by tdperk »

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #33 on: 09/14/2017 04:38 PM »
Greetings,

The key word in your passage is "dream".

Unfortunately, dreams alone don't make reality come true.

I'd really suggest this article:

Is a dream a lie if it donít come true?

by Dwayne Day

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3231/1
An excellent piece. Especially the comment on the use of the word "colony," which Americans just cannot seem to shake.

I think another aspect of this is that the actual viable revenue streams a settlement could use to support itself lack the grandiose, "Heroicsm of Labour" that "opening a frontier" implies.

IOW People (subconsciously) picture "The Little House on the (Martian) Prairie"
But in fact rather more plausible is

"Musk Villas. Gracious Low Gravity living for the Extraordinarily Well Off."
and if you're not one of the "Extraordinarily Well Off" then you're going to be one of their carers, or their support staff.

I'd like to point out that a number of cities and townships started life as (basically) settlements of former army and naval personnel when they left the service who'd rather not return to their home countries.

There is nothing wrong with this line of settlement. It's just not very heroic.



"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline AncientU

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #34 on: 09/14/2017 05:12 PM »
Because current economical / political system is incapable of producing those technology breakthroughs.

Sorry, but this is just not so. 

Think Physics... not politics.
Politics brings little-to-nothing technical to the game; economic argument for fusion power has existed since fusion was grasped as the Sun's energy source, and carbon nano-tubes are kinda hard to make economically in industrial quantities as a few decades of research has demonstrated.
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Offline tdperk

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #35 on: 09/14/2017 05:13 PM »
Greetings,

The key word in your passage is "dream".

Unfortunately, dreams alone don't make reality come true.

I'd really suggest this article:

Is a dream a lie if it donít come true?

by Dwayne Day

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3231/1
An excellent piece. Especially the comment on the use of the word "colony," which Americans just cannot seem to shake.

I think another aspect of this is that the actual viable revenue streams a settlement could use to support itself lack the grandiose, "Heroicsm of Labour" that "opening a frontier" implies.

IOW People (subconsciously) picture "The Little House on the (Martian) Prairie"
But in fact rather more plausible is

"Musk Villas. Gracious Low Gravity living for the Extraordinarily Well Off."
and if you're not one of the "Extraordinarily Well Off" then you're going to be one of their carers, or their support staff.

I'd like to point out that a number of cities and townships started life as (basically) settlements of former army and naval personnel when they left the service who'd rather not return to their home countries.

There is nothing wrong with this line of settlement. It's just not very heroic.

Neither of which beginning points invalidate or even affect what I've said, insofar as I can understand you.

" It's just not very heroic. "

Uhuh.

Whether an old folks home or military outposting, it will not be done until the cost to LEO (space access) falls dramatically, and no one will stay unless they have a good reason.

Present or future improvements of a political nature are one such potential improvement as a good reason--even if there is no particular revenue stream.  People will pay to be free if the "dead loss" is "only money" -- but if the financial outlay is real, so must be the liberty.
« Last Edit: 09/14/2017 05:19 PM by tdperk »

Offline AncientU

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #36 on: 09/14/2017 05:53 PM »
...
It's taken them 15 years to get to $1236/lb. They hope FH will get them to $651/lb.

FH is 4 years behind first expected launch and probably 5 by the time it first launches.

So you you expect them them to achieve the other 6.5x reduction?

It has taken them 15 years to learn how to build tankage, engines, test facilities, fairings, capsules, launch pads, payload integration facilities, etc. -- launchers that actually work pretty well as success in international competition proves -- from scratch*.  They've also flown 40-some operational sorties for customers from across the globe.

Falcon 9 Block 5: The World's first fully and rapidly reusable booster is being fabricated while we debate... it's cost has not yet entered the equation, but it might approach $800/lb (~15tonnes to LEO for F9 cost of ~$25M = $758/lb).  Fairing and second stage (which make up the bulk of the $25M) reuse are being developed and tested. 
FH: This vehicle which will fly within the next six months should improve on F9 costs by factor of 2-3x.
ITSy: The World's first fully and rapidly reusable rocket, designed from a blank sheet to be exactly this, is being rolled out in the next five years...

Cost around $100/lb to LEO is pretty much a given within 5-10 years at this point -- a few $10s per pound is likely at the end of 15 years.

* Compare this progress to ULA, Arianespace, NASA, etc. over the same 15 year interval.
« Last Edit: 09/14/2017 06:05 PM by AncientU »
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Offline tdperk

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #37 on: 09/14/2017 05:59 PM »
Cost around $100/lb to LEO is pretty much a given within 5-10 years at this point -- a few $10s per pound is likely at the end of 15 years.

I've got to tell you, I don't see it dropping below $60/lb in 20 years time, not at this time.

I pretty much regard $25~30/lb to LEO as a floor for thermochemical rockets where a hydrocarbon is the fuel.

I rush to add, I'm not complaining. :P

Offline AncientU

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #38 on: 09/14/2017 06:12 PM »
Cost around $100/lb to LEO is pretty much a given within 5-10 years at this point -- a few $10s per pound is likely at the end of 15 years.

I've got to tell you, I don't see it dropping below $60/lb in 20 years time, not at this time.

I pretty much regard $25~30/lb to LEO as a floor for thermochemical rockets where a hydrocarbon is the fuel.

I rush to add, I'm not complaining. :P

A big factor will be launch rate... if high, the floor can be significantly lowered, but if it stays where it is today, it will be extremely difficult to get to $100/lb.  All in what assumptions you make.  (Stating it cannot be done because it hasn't been done isn't really an assumption -- it's a belief or philosophy.)
« Last Edit: 09/14/2017 06:15 PM by AncientU »
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Online Coastal Ron

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Re: Skepticism about space colonization
« Reply #39 on: 09/14/2017 06:19 PM »
I think another aspect of this is that the actual viable revenue streams a settlement could use to support itself lack the grandiose, "Heroicsm of Labour" that "opening a frontier" implies.

IOW People (subconsciously) picture "The Little House on the (Martian) Prairie"
But in fact rather more plausible is "Musk Villas. Gracious Low Gravity living for the Extraordinarily Well Off."
and if you're not one of the "Extraordinarily Well Off" then you're going to be one of their carers, or their support staff.

I'd like to point out that a number of cities and townships started life as (basically) settlements of former army and naval personnel when they left the service who'd rather not return to their home countries.

There is nothing wrong with this line of settlement. It's just not very heroic.

In the 50 years we've been sending humans to space we have not been able to identify a business case for sending humans to space. So far all of our justifications have relied on some form of "National Imperative", with some economic (i.e. Shuttle space truck) and science (i.e. ISS) thrown in. And I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos at least Musk is proposing sending humans into space using a economic model that has been proven out here on Earth - a humanitarian need. That to save humanity at some point in the future we need to make it multi-planetary. And that is not, as you point out, heroic per se, since to be a hero you have to be saving someone, and there is no immediate danger to save anyone from - and may never be.

But as we've all seen, humanitarian reasons don't necessarily bring in the big bucks on their own, and there is lots of competition for humanitarian funding here on Earth (especially of late), so for Musk to succeed there will need to be other factors that help to start a flow of money, and keep it going for supporting an off-world colony.

Musk is certainly being upfront that colonists will have to pay some amount to get to Mars, so at least there is at least one funding stream identified, but we'll need to see far more before we can collectively say "hey, this might work!"

Still, even with all the donating we're doing for hurricane victims around the U.S. and Caribbean, I'd be willing to throw some money towards a Mars colony effort - if I think my money will be well spent. So that's the bar Musk has to reach for me, but we all know he's good at reaching tough goals...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

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