Author Topic: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?  (Read 5621 times)

Offline sanman

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After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« on: 10/06/2017 02:14 AM »
Suppose, hypothetically, 10 years from now, we live in a world where there are multiple launch options available - BFR, NewGlenn, Vulcan, Antares, etc - offering various choices to the marketplace at competitive prices. So at that point, there's plenty of access to space.

What then become the next bottlenecks to this vision of "millions of people living and working in space"?
Assuming that rockets and launch capability are no longer the bottleneck, then what become the new bottlenecks?

What are then the next critical set of technologies/capabilities that need to be focused on, in order to make the Space Economy take off?
« Last Edit: 10/06/2017 02:40 AM by sanman »

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #1 on: 10/06/2017 03:17 AM »
Living in space means spacestations and planetary bases. So habitats will need developing. Transfer vehicles from LEO to the spacestations and landers are required. Mars and Moon rovers. Mining and refining equipment.

Offline sanman

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #2 on: 10/06/2017 04:11 AM »
Living in space means spacestations and planetary bases. So habitats will need developing. Transfer vehicles from LEO to the spacestations and landers are required. Mars and Moon rovers. Mining and refining equipment.

So Bigelow Aerospace are at least one candidate pursuing development of habs, using technology licensed and developed from NASA.
Blue Origin are at least one company who plan to offer a lunar lander. Masten Space Systems are another.

But who's developing mining, refining or even just digging equipment, for the Moon? Is there anybody with any working hardware for that?

Offline Lar

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #3 on: 10/06/2017 04:33 AM »
Caterpillar shows prototypes periodically. Unclear how far along they really are.
"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
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Offline Athrithalix

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #4 on: 10/06/2017 09:12 AM »
I should think the bottlenecks will be political and medical in nature, with enough people in space you're going to start needing separate entities to police and lead. The typical national border structure isn't really going to work, I think the Space Nation proposal is probably the right kind of idea, but I don't know enough sociology and political theory to suggest how to build a society in orbit.

The medical problems of life in low gravity are not well explored for someone intending to spend a large portion of their life in orbit, whilst the engineering questions of rotational gravity are still up in the air (so to speak) for the best way to make it work.

Offline Jim

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #5 on: 10/06/2017 04:55 PM »

What are then the next critical set of technologies/capabilities that need to be focused on, in order to make the Space Economy take off?

It has nothing to do with technologies.  It is the market place.  Other than making money off of communications, what other reasons to go into space that will make money.  Tourism is not it. 

Offline Eerie

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #6 on: 10/06/2017 07:51 PM »

What are then the next critical set of technologies/capabilities that need to be focused on, in order to make the Space Economy take off?

It has nothing to do with technologies.  It is the market place.  Other than making money off of communications, what other reasons to go into space that will make money.  Tourism is not it. 

But besides tourism there is nothing commercial to do in space in the short term. LEO provides exactly two things of value: empty void and weightlessness. Empty void is already exploited for communications (and imaging). You could do communications on a larger scale, like SpaceX with their Internet constellation, but that's about it.

Offline francesco nicoli

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #7 on: 10/06/2017 08:01 PM »
Actually, whether something is profitable or not it really depends on upwards & downwards mass costs.
It is even meaningless trying to explore commercial manufacturing in today's price environment.

Decrease the transport costs to a decent level, and things may well change. Vacuum may have many manufacturing advantages, however advantages which do not justify current costs.

Furthermore, at the cost of sounding an environmentalist, off-planet manufacturing has at least one enormous advantage: its impact on the Earth's ecosphere is minimal.
Start to price environmental externalities correctly, and you might see how much more competitive the space becomes (since the great part of byproducts considered "externalities" on the planet are not so elsewhere).
Or, in other words: on the Moon you can do ALL form of pollution you like. Start pricing Earth externalities properly, and you will have both addressed the issue of environmental protection, and provided a huge incentive to off-planet production (assuming, again, transportation is cheap enough).

Offline synchrotron

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #8 on: 10/06/2017 08:12 PM »
Actually, whether something is profitable or not it really depends on upwards & downwards mass costs.
It is even meaningless trying to explore commercial manufacturing in today's price environment.

Decrease the transport costs to a decent level, and things may well change. Vacuum may have many manufacturing advantages, however advantages which do not justify current costs.

Furthermore, at the cost of sounding an environmentalist, off-planet manufacturing has at least one enormous advantage: its impact on the Earth's ecosphere is minimal.
Start to price environmental externalities correctly, and you might see how much more competitive the space becomes (since the great part of byproducts considered "externalities" on the planet are not so elsewhere).
Or, in other words: on the Moon you can do ALL form of pollution you like. Start pricing Earth externalities properly, and you will have both addressed the issue of environmental protection, and provided a huge incentive to off-planet production (assuming, again, transportation is cheap enough).

I'm having trouble understanding how adding a deltaV of 10 km/s to your materials and then adding additional km/s to deorbit your manufactured goods has a minimal impact on the ecosphere.

Offline francesco nicoli

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #9 on: 10/06/2017 08:15 PM »
Actually, whether something is profitable or not it really depends on upwards & downwards mass costs.
It is even meaningless trying to explore commercial manufacturing in today's price environment.

Decrease the transport costs to a decent level, and things may well change. Vacuum may have many manufacturing advantages, however advantages which do not justify current costs.

Furthermore, at the cost of sounding an environmentalist, off-planet manufacturing has at least one enormous advantage: its impact on the Earth's ecosphere is minimal.
Start to price environmental externalities correctly, and you might see how much more competitive the space becomes (since the great part of byproducts considered "externalities" on the planet are not so elsewhere).
Or, in other words: on the Moon you can do ALL form of pollution you like. Start pricing Earth externalities properly, and you will have both addressed the issue of environmental protection, and provided a huge incentive to off-planet production (assuming, again, transportation is cheap enough).

I'm having trouble understanding how adding a deltaV of 10 km/s to your materials and then adding additional km/s to deorbit your manufactured goods has a minimal impact on the ecosphere.

first, it depends on where you take the materials.
Second, I should have specified- minimal impact compared with the impact of producing everything on spot, polluting, and moving goods around the planet.

Offline DreamyPickle

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #10 on: 10/06/2017 08:34 PM »
It has nothing to do with technologies.  It is the market place.  Other than making money off of communications, what other reasons to go into space that will make money.  Tourism is not it.
Why is tourism "not it"? This is a market that has never been truly tested because of a lack of supply. The only flights so far were on Soyuz but now both Boeing and SpaceX are developing manned spacecraft that will actually fly.

Offline sanman

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #11 on: 10/07/2017 12:21 AM »
Initially, things could start out by setting up research stations on the Moon. Large telescopes could be built there, which could peer into space without atmospheric distortion.

How about a Google Data Center on the Moon, to back up all the information on the internet and the sum of human knowledge, in case of catastrophe on Earth?
Then you could also have a Seed/DNA Repository, to likewise back up all the lifeforms of Earth as well.

But beyond that, tourism would be necessary to scale up human presence and further bring down costs.

Maybe one approach to tourism could be to build something uniquely spectacular on the Moon - like a Las Vegas or Disneyworld - to draw in people from all over Earth to visit there. Perhaps unique architecture could be created on the Moon that would not be possible on Earth due to its higher gravity. There would have to be some kind of compelling experience to draw people to visit the Moon.

The Moon would be a large laboratory/proving-ground at the forefront of deployment and development of robotics and automation, which would be essential in keep costs down. Tele-robots supplemented by AI could be tele-operated from Earth on the Moon, to carry out all kinds of essential activities necessary to sustain the human presence there - especially activities that reduce risk to human beings.

Part of the allure of Space is "The Dream" - this romantic vision of an expansive humanity, with expanding opportunities. Maybe the opportunity to build a new society? Space holds the strongest attraction for dreamers and explorers. Those feelings too will have to be tapped through the marketplace.
« Last Edit: 10/07/2017 12:52 AM by sanman »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #12 on: 10/07/2017 12:48 AM »

What are then the next critical set of technologies/capabilities that need to be focused on, in order to make the Space Economy take off?

It has nothing to do with technologies.  It is the market place.  Other than making money off of communications, what other reasons to go into space that will make money.  Tourism is not it.
Space telecomm is a much bigger market than space tourism, about 1000x as big in the 2000s. ~$100 billion versus $100 million per year (at best).

But both markets can grow. You can argue that Blue Origin is a $1 billion per year space tourism company, even if that $1 billion happens to come from just one guy's pockets! So I think that a space tourism market of at least $1-10 billion per year is reasonable if the capability is there. More as the world as a whole gets richer.

But it will NEVER eclipse space telecom. Telecom may exceed $1 trillion someday.

Only other market that can come close to that is space solar power, but that's a LOT harder to make close.

Point to point transport might be a $100 billion per year market, but it's also very difficult to close.

Military applications like missile defense could be an additional $100 billion per year, but that's also not likely to happen.

Asteroid mining maybe low digit billions per year (either a secondary market to space solar, tourism, etc, or it's mining Platinum group metals, which are globally less than $10 billion per year... but could possibly grow), but is even harder to close.

Helium 3 mining isn't profitable, especially on the Moon.

Imaging is fairly low revenue, say single-digit billions.

In space manufacturing might be important, but it's basically a hope on a gamble and isn't likely to be big.

Yeah, Jim's right: communications is where it's at. But that's a huge market.
« Last Edit: 10/07/2017 01:03 AM by Robotbeat »
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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #13 on: 10/07/2017 02:19 AM »
Actually, whether something is profitable or not it really depends on upwards & downwards mass costs.
It is even meaningless trying to explore commercial manufacturing in today's price environment.

Decrease the transport costs to a decent level, and things may well change. Vacuum may have many manufacturing advantages, however advantages which do not justify current costs.

Furthermore, at the cost of sounding an environmentalist, off-planet manufacturing has at least one enormous advantage: its impact on the Earth's ecosphere is minimal.
Start to price environmental externalities correctly, and you might see how much more competitive the space becomes (since the great part of byproducts considered "externalities" on the planet are not so elsewhere).
Or, in other words: on the Moon you can do ALL form of pollution you like. Start pricing Earth externalities properly, and you will have both addressed the issue of environmental protection, and provided a huge incentive to off-planet production (assuming, again, transportation is cheap enough).

I'm having trouble understanding how adding a deltaV of 10 km/s to your materials and then adding additional km/s to deorbit your manufactured goods has a minimal impact on the ecosphere.

first, it depends on where you take the materials.
Second, I should have specified- minimal impact compared with the impact of producing everything on spot, polluting, and moving goods around the planet.

The main waste products from burning rocket fuel are water and carbon dioxide. Plants like both.

Waste products from some manufacturing processes are poisonousness. They can be dumped on the Moon but not on Earth. Doubly so when dealing with radioactive substances.

Offline KelvinZero

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #14 on: 10/07/2017 02:45 AM »
Space telecomm is a much bigger market than space tourism, about 1000x as big in the 2000s. ~$100 billion versus $100 million per year (at best).
Tourism could be a big driver for HSF technologies that will help enable colonisation though. communications satellites have been big for a long time without looking like it was a significant driver for becoming multiplanetary, or having millions of people in space.

(edited to clarify connection to OP)

« Last Edit: 10/07/2017 02:48 AM by KelvinZero »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #15 on: 10/07/2017 03:29 AM »
Space telecomm is a much bigger market than space tourism, about 1000x as big in the 2000s. ~$100 billion versus $100 million per year (at best).
Tourism could be a big driver for HSF technologies that will help enable colonisation though. communications satellites have been big for a long time without looking like it was a significant driver for becoming multiplanetary, or having millions of people in space.

(edited to clarify connection to OP)
Disagree. BFR is driven by comm sats, and BFR is a huge enabler for space settlement.
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Offline KelvinZero

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #16 on: 10/07/2017 04:12 AM »
Tourism could be a big driver for HSF technologies that will help enable colonisation though. communications satellites have been big for a long time without looking like it was a significant driver for becoming multiplanetary, or having millions of people in space.

(edited to clarify connection to OP)
Disagree. BFR is driven by comm sats, and BFR is a huge enabler for space settlement.
I think you missed my point. Im saying that you can't just do a dollar-dollar comparison, because dollars made through space tourism will do proportionally more for HSF and colonisation than dollars made through com sats.

Comm Sats alone do not push us to being multiplanetary or put humans in space at all. You also have to assume that Elon will plow the money he makes back into HSF.
Given that assumption, you might as well Say Jeff Bezos's strategy is better. Just be absurdly rich, and plow that money into HSF.

Offline sanman

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #17 on: 10/07/2017 07:19 AM »
Helium 3 mining isn't profitable, especially on the Moon.

It's not clear that Helium-3 mining wouldn't be profitable. Helium-3 could be scooped up along with other volatiles bound up in the regolith. What is clear is that it could involve "defacing" significant stretches of the lunar surface through strip-mining. (Hey, just do it on the Far Side, and nobody on Earth will be the wiser)

The issue with Helium-3 is that nobody's achieved fusion yet, much less aneutronic fusion, which is Helium-3's  main selling point. On the other hand, if some breakthrough happens there (LPP?), then Helium-3's market value could skyrocket overnight.

« Last Edit: 10/07/2017 07:24 AM by sanman »

Offline francesco nicoli

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #18 on: 10/07/2017 10:06 AM »
Actually, whether something is profitable or not it really depends on upwards & downwards mass costs.
It is even meaningless trying to explore commercial manufacturing in today's price environment.

Decrease the transport costs to a decent level, and things may well change. Vacuum may have many manufacturing advantages, however advantages which do not justify current costs.

Furthermore, at the cost of sounding an environmentalist, off-planet manufacturing has at least one enormous advantage: its impact on the Earth's ecosphere is minimal.
Start to price environmental externalities correctly, and you might see how much more competitive the space becomes (since the great part of byproducts considered "externalities" on the planet are not so elsewhere).
Or, in other words: on the Moon you can do ALL form of pollution you like. Start pricing Earth externalities properly, and you will have both addressed the issue of environmental protection, and provided a huge incentive to off-planet production (assuming, again, transportation is cheap enough).

I'm having trouble understanding how adding a deltaV of 10 km/s to your materials and then adding additional km/s to deorbit your manufactured goods has a minimal impact on the ecosphere.

first, it depends on where you take the materials.
Second, I should have specified- minimal impact compared with the impact of producing everything on spot, polluting, and moving goods around the planet.

The main waste products from burning rocket fuel are water and carbon dioxide. Plants like both.

Waste products from some manufacturing processes are poisonousness. They can be dumped on the Moon but not on Earth. Doubly so when dealing with radioactive substances.
that's my point: externalities that would completely screw Earth production if internalized, become no more a problem off-Earth.

Offline RonM

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #19 on: 10/07/2017 01:51 PM »
Helium 3 mining isn't profitable, especially on the Moon.

It's not clear that Helium-3 mining wouldn't be profitable. Helium-3 could be scooped up along with other volatiles bound up in the regolith. What is clear is that it could involve "defacing" significant stretches of the lunar surface through strip-mining. (Hey, just do it on the Far Side, and nobody on Earth will be the wiser)

The issue with Helium-3 is that nobody's achieved fusion yet, much less aneutronic fusion, which is Helium-3's  main selling point. On the other hand, if some breakthrough happens there (LPP?), then Helium-3's market value could skyrocket overnight.

Helium-3 can be produced in nuclear reactors. Don't need to strip mine the Moon to get it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium-3#Industrial_production

Offline Oli

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #20 on: 10/07/2017 02:16 PM »
It has nothing to do with technologies.  It is the market place.  Other than making money off of communications, what other reasons to go into space that will make money.  Tourism is not it.
Why is tourism "not it"? This is a market that has never been truly tested because of a lack of supply. The only flights so far were on Soyuz but now both Boeing and SpaceX are developing manned spacecraft that will actually fly.

There was always Soyuz and the option to build a commercial station. It may have something to do with the numbers on the attached picture. Reliability is obviously also a concern for tourism.

But according to some BFR will be the highest-performing, cheapest and most reliable spacecraft ever and solve all those issues. ::)

Offline tdperk

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #21 on: 10/08/2017 02:26 PM »
It has nothing to do with technologies.  It is the market place.  Other than making money off of communications, what other reasons to go into space that will make money.  Tourism is not it.
Why is tourism "not it"? This is a market that has never been truly tested because of a lack of supply. The only flights so far were on Soyuz but now both Boeing and SpaceX are developing manned spacecraft that will actually fly.

There was always Soyuz and the option to build a commercial station. It may have something to do with the numbers on the attached picture. Reliability is obviously also a concern for tourism.

But according to some BFR will be the highest-performing, cheapest and most reliable spacecraft ever and solve all those issues. ::)

Which problems?  It probably won't solve the problem of how much NASA spends for hardware for political reasons.

But it lets people with other priorities build heavier, simpler, cheaper, faster--and they book the rockets.

Offline Oli

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #22 on: 10/08/2017 04:22 PM »
Which problems?  It probably won't solve the problem of how much NASA spends for hardware for political reasons.

Are you saying that NASA spends more on CST-100 and Dragon 2 for political reasons? After all those were competitive bids.

Offline zhangmdev

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #23 on: 10/08/2017 05:54 PM »
For a few hundred million dollars, one can build an ocean-going cruise ship, a hundred thousand ton self-contained world carrying thousands of passengers and crew, visiting exotic islands around the world, with endless ways to entertain paying customers.

For same kind of money, what space tourism can possibly provide? A glorified tin can cramming with a handful of people?  A small window to look through, a self-serving minibar and toilet behind a curtain? Can that compete with air and sunshine of Bahamas? I think space tourism will limit to sub-orbital joyride, if that ever happens, in the foreseeable future. 

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #24 on: 10/08/2017 07:05 PM »
Big cruise ships are over a billion dollars, now. And they're glorified tin cans, too. :)

If BFR works out, you could have nearly cruise ship sized habs for about the same price.
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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #25 on: 10/08/2017 08:54 PM »
This chart is astounding -- and conveniently answers the OP:

Q: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?

A: Wasteful spending for political expediency
Quote
$980M Orion (crew to Cis-Lunar) Production Only. An estimate @ 1 unit a year. If @ 2 flights a year, $654M/unit. Scenario if Orion less than 1 flts/year thru 2046 = $1,672M/unit

Note: This is recurring price for the spacecraft, not including development costs, operations, etc. -- OR the launcher.
« Last Edit: 10/08/2017 09:12 PM by AncientU »
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Offline Oli

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #26 on: 10/08/2017 10:04 PM »
This chart is astounding -- and conveniently answers the OP:

Q: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?

A: Wasteful spending for political expediency

Hard to disagree on that.

The source by the way: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20170008893.pdf

Offline mikelepage

Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #27 on: 10/09/2017 05:36 AM »
For same kind of money, what space tourism can possibly provide? A glorified tin can cramming with a handful of people?  A small window to look through, a self-serving minibar and toilet behind a curtain? Can that compete with air and sunshine of Bahamas? I think space tourism will limit to sub-orbital joyride, if that ever happens, in the foreseeable future.

The ability to fly. Zero g sports. The best views you'll ever see with your own eyes. Probably several new genres of pornography  ::) Achievement of childhood ambitions. Unique travel stories. The thrill rush of high g acceleration. And point to point cruises meaning less time on airplanes.

Offline matterbeam

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #28 on: 10/09/2017 12:31 PM »
If we can reduce space launch to $10/kg and extraterrestrial spaceflight is equally cheap, then mining space resources will be very profitable.

If we spend even $100/kg to mine platinum, we'd be adding 0.34% to the current price.
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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #29 on: 10/10/2017 06:16 PM »
Which problems?  It probably won't solve the problem of how much NASA spends for hardware for political reasons.

Are you saying that NASA spends more on CST-100 and Dragon 2 for political reasons? After all those were competitive bids.

It certainly doesn't make much sense that refurbishing a Starliner costs almost as much as refurbishing a Shuttle. And Dragon 2 projected costs are for all new vehicles. There is also a substantial markup just for the for USG acquisition process... commercial flights on a used Dragon 2 could be much less.

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #30 on: 10/11/2017 08:11 AM »
Niche manufacturing may be non-trivial. Some here on NSF believe there may be a closing business case for a BA-330 commercial station serviced by 6 cargo Dragons a year right now, if manufacturing ZBLAN optical fiber for use in terrestrial telecomms. Upping the repeater spacing distance on long distance fiber is no joke in terms of costs.

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #31 on: 10/11/2017 09:25 AM »

What are then the next critical set of technologies/capabilities that need to be focused on, in order to make the Space Economy take off?

It has nothing to do with technologies.  It is the market place.  Other than making money off of communications, what other reasons to go into space that will make money.  Tourism is not it.

In space manufacturing might be important, but it's basically a hope on a gamble and isn't likely to be big.

Yeah, Jim's right: communications is where it's at. But that's a huge market.
Actually, I think in space manufacturing can be huge. There are a lot of applications on the automotive, medical, optic fields, etc where very high quality components cost 100x more than normal components and where a small improvement of quality is worth the price.

The advantage of in space manufacturing is not only microgravity, but also easiness of achieving near perfect vacuum. And the combination of both

Offline sanman

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #32 on: 10/11/2017 09:36 AM »
It's been a long time since Mount Everest was first climbed, but look how many people continue to go there to do it. Likewise, more than half-a-century after the Apollo moonlandings, a trip to the Moon can continue to be a pinnacle achievement that would draw in people from all over to pay for it.

Maybe lunar tourists would one day be able to come within a few miles of the original Apollo 11 landing site, and look at it from a telescope. Tourists would have their own separate site to be able to place their own flags and footprints, or even sprinkle the ashes of their loved ones. People would be able to photograph themselves with the Earth in the backdrop - the ultimate selfie.

Musk named a price of ~$500K for a person to be able to travel to Mars, but I'm sure that a trip to the Moon would be much lower than that, mainly because there would naturally be a much higher volume of people traveling to the Moon as compared to Mars, due to the closer proximity, shorter duration, and less strenuous nature of the trip.

Offline matterbeam

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #33 on: 10/11/2017 09:39 AM »
I think the next bottleneck after launch prices is long term habitability. We'd need to solve radiation protection, near-closed life support and microgravity sicknesses for humans to be able to stay in space for long periods without suffering, and do so with lightweight solutions.
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Offline sanman

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #34 on: 10/11/2017 09:47 AM »
I think the next bottleneck after launch prices is long term habitability. We'd need to solve radiation protection, near-closed life support and microgravity sicknesses for humans to be able to stay in space for long periods without suffering, and do so with lightweight solutions.

It seems like radiation is only a challenge when out in the open, like in space. But when on the surface of Moon, Mars, asteroid, you can just burrow into the regolith as a convenient shield from radiation.

Does anyone have any experiments planned for microgravity/artificial-spin-gravity out in space?

Offline KelvinZero

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #35 on: 10/11/2017 11:01 AM »
Answering the OP:
I think really cheap rockets opens LEO tourism, at least in the sense of a "Las Vagas in space". A large scale space station for no reason apart from tourism. (It also opens LEO internet, but that only funds more and cheaper rockets. I don't think it really advances HSF in other ways unless it creates an in-orbit satellite repair career)

What this hasn't done is create a drive to master ISRU or in-space manufacture, or self sufficiency in general. In fact, the cheaper the rockets, the easier to just resupply from earth. Like ISS, you could run a Las Vagas in Space for years and still find you were not moving closer to lightweight reliable small life support you would trust for missions of years away from possible resupply. The bigger your tourism town, the more difficult it might be to extend your technology to self sufficiency, just as the size of earth teaches us all the wrong lessons for small scale self sufficiency.

Moon tourism would probably drive this technology somewhat, at some point.

If Elon creates a Mars base, absolutely this drive for maximum self sufficiency will be there. It is definitely a hurdle though. Mars colonisation does not happen automatically. Events on earth may also drive this technology.

Offline sanman

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #36 on: 10/11/2017 11:35 AM »
So if ISRU is the key factor for enabling larger-scale construction on the Moon once abundant launch capability is available, then what should the roadmap be to achieve this ISRU capability? So far we've seen dirt-scooping/carrying competitions from NASA, as well as tile-laying.

Could Google one day announce an X-Prize that reflects the looming realities of more big rockets appearing? Could we see a spate of university research projects on how to build heavier, more permanent structures on the Moon, beyond just mere transhab bubbles?

For robust infrastructure on the Moon, you really want to be able to pour some concrete. That's the only way you can build a lunar Las Vegas.

https://www.nature.com/articles/srep29659

I wonder if unmanned missions could be conducted on the Moon to test out lunar concrete production and construction methods.


Offline zhangmdev

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #37 on: 10/11/2017 03:58 PM »
Zero g sports.

Those immensely popular spectator sports, football, soccer, basketball, ect, usually depends on certain section of the population being able to practice that sport. Generations of kids play after school, aspiring to be good enough to join the league, to be elite ahletes, to be heroes. They will watch their heroes play. When they grow older and fatter, unable to play, they will still watch because of heroism via proxy. Zero-g sports implies they are only made possible in Zero-g environment and hence excluding most people, on the ground, from practicing those sports.

Another kind of sport only a few people can play, like Motorsport, but can still be popular. I am not sure why. Maybe there is some connection between those expensive activities and the everyday life. Most people have no chance to drive a Formula One car, but they can aspire to own a McLaren, maybe that is so out-of-reach, at least they can buy a Toyota. That can be useful as means of advertising and making loads of money.

I think should any Zero-g sport materialized, it'd likely fall into the second kind. Solar sail yacht racing? However, suppose it is as big as NFL, so many players, games, stadiums, spectators, a tradition almost a century old, the most valuable sport league in the world? NFL's season revenue is about $14 billion USD, actually not that big comparing to its size. Does that justify the cost?

Offline sanman

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #38 on: 10/12/2017 02:29 PM »
Imagine if the Olympics were held on the Moon - eg. Summer Olympics, Winter Olympics, Lunar Olympics.
Transportation costs would be paid for by a joint Olympic Fund, so that all nations could have an equal chance at participating. Advertising, broadcasting and sponsorship revenue would be put into that fund.

Athletes from around the world would then go to the Moon and train in its 1/6 G environment, to ultimately compete in various Olympic events. Perhaps some new Olympic sports events could be invented, which take advantage of the uniqueness of the lunar environment. I wonder what new sports events could be designed for the Moon?

As the price of lunar trips drop, tourists could also travel to the Moon to witness the events firsthand. Tourism is supposed to be a  particularly desirable industry because it brings in outside money to pay for facilities and infrastructure - in this case, the outside money would be from Earthlings.


If the once-every-4-years Lunar Olympics works out, then it could just be the start. The same idea could then be applied to all sorts of big professional sports competitions: World Cup Soccer, professional baseball, football, basketball, etc. The same teams that compete in professional sports leagues on Earth could win the additional chance to compete head-to-head on the Moon -- ie. Universal Cup Soccer, Commonwealth Cricket, etc.
They would get the chance to go to the Moon in advance for a training season, and learn to use their skills in the lunar gravity before competing in playoffs there.
Again, the same financing model of sponsorship, broadcast rights, and advertising revenue would apply.

This would help to build up infrastructure and facilities on the Moon, which could also be leveraged by scientific researchers, especially during off-seasons.
« Last Edit: 10/12/2017 02:38 PM by sanman »

Offline zhangmdev

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #39 on: 10/12/2017 04:22 PM »
Hosting Olympic games is a kind of economic stimulus, a reason to spend a lot on building large scale infrastructures. But the return is not that good. Beijing spent over $40 billion USD on 2008 Summer Olympic, but the direct revenue from the games was only about $2 billion USD. Of course those billions are not wasted, because Beijing is a already a mega city of tens of millions of people, those roads, airports, stadiums, apartment towers etc are still there and in use.

Sports sounds important. It gets a lot of attention. Athletes are treated like gods. Advertisements of related products permeate the city landscape. But the number of direct revenue from the games, sponsorship, tickets, television, licensing, etc, is not that big. Those brands sponsoring the events are much bigger. The annual sales of Nike shoes alone is about enough to pay NASA's budget. Anyway, space flight seems import, to us enthusiasts at least, but it is not that big either. The number of people can go into space. The tonnage of infrastructure in space. The number of billions made via activities in space, comparing to the size of nations' economy. Those numbers are rather insignificant right now.

Offline sanman

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #40 on: 10/12/2017 04:45 PM »
Alright, fair enough - sports is just one aspect of human cultural life - but it could be part of a greater effort to extend cultural attractions and events to the Moon, beyond just a scientific presence. Not everyone who wants to go to the Moon should have to be a scientist. Maybe people will go to the Moon just for inspiration, too.

Festivals on the Moon?
Pilgrimages to the Moon?
Weddings, Burials and other ceremonies on the Moon?
Filmmaking on the Moon?

How about placing the United Nations on the Moon? It can be a neutral ground, after all - and symbolically reinforce of the fact that petty Earthly differences disappear when mankind ventures beyond the bounds of Earth.
<insert joke about sending all politicians to space here>
« Last Edit: 10/12/2017 04:47 PM by sanman »

Offline mikelepage

Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #41 on: 10/14/2017 06:43 AM »
Zero g sports.

Those immensely popular spectator sports, football, soccer, basketball, ect, usually depends on certain section of the population being able to practice that sport. Generations of kids play after school, aspiring to be good enough to join the league, to be elite ahletes, to be heroes. They will watch their heroes play. When they grow older and fatter, unable to play, they will still watch because of heroism via proxy. Zero-g sports implies they are only made possible in Zero-g environment and hence excluding most people, on the ground, from practicing those sports.

Another kind of sport only a few people can play, like Motorsport, but can still be popular. I am not sure why. Maybe there is some connection between those expensive activities and the everyday life. Most people have no chance to drive a Formula One car, but they can aspire to own a McLaren, maybe that is so out-of-reach, at least they can buy a Toyota. That can be useful as means of advertising and making loads of money.

I think should any Zero-g sport materialized, it'd likely fall into the second kind. Solar sail yacht racing? However, suppose it is as big as NFL, so many players, games, stadiums, spectators, a tradition almost a century old, the most valuable sport league in the world? NFL's season revenue is about $14 billion USD, actually not that big comparing to its size. Does that justify the cost?

This is why I think every zero-g sport will have an Earth analog at first (ie zero-g table tennis, zero-g MMA, etc), rather than inventing entirely new sports.  As long as it doesn't take up that much room, and can be tied into an existing franchise that people already understand, I think it could be the killer app for humans in LEO.

Alright, fair enough - sports is just one aspect of human cultural life - but it could be part of a greater effort to extend cultural attractions and events to the Moon, beyond just a scientific presence. Not everyone who wants to go to the Moon should have to be a scientist. Maybe people will go to the Moon just for inspiration, too.

Festivals on the Moon?
Pilgrimages to the Moon?
Weddings, Burials and other ceremonies on the Moon?
Filmmaking on the Moon?

How about placing the United Nations on the Moon? It can be a neutral ground, after all - and symbolically reinforce of the fact that petty Earthly differences disappear when mankind ventures beyond the bounds of Earth.
<insert joke about sending all politicians to space here>

You forgot to mention the possibility of having a literal "honeymoon"  ;)

I think the number of people who actually want to settle deep space or go to Mars etc is minuscule compared to the number of people who just want to have an amazing holiday/experience that will stay with them for the rest of their (earthly) lives.  Once people are comfortable that all of cis-lunar space is relatively safe and means just a few days to get back home, I think the explosion of tourism will happen quickly.  Going beyond cis-lunar space will be what the "crazy" people do, because that means years away.

Offline sanman

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #42 on: 10/14/2017 07:20 AM »
And the main prerequisite for all this is infrastructure. There needs to be a clear plan for building up infrastructure on the Moon. It's great that Gwynne Shotwell in her latest remarks pointed out that The Boring Company is a means to the end of creating habitable space on Mars - hopefully they'll be able to try this on the Moon first, since it's the nearer and more accessible location.
« Last Edit: 10/14/2017 11:27 AM by sanman »

Online A_M_Swallow

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #43 on: 10/15/2017 12:43 AM »
Zero g sports.

Those immensely popular spectator sports, football, soccer, basketball, ect, usually depends on certain section of the population being able to practice that sport. Generations of kids play after school, aspiring to be good enough to join the league, to be elite ahletes, to be heroes. They will watch their heroes play. When they grow older and fatter, unable to play, they will still watch because of heroism via proxy. Zero-g sports implies they are only made possible in Zero-g environment and hence excluding most people, on the ground, from practicing those sports.

Another kind of sport only a few people can play, like Motorsport, but can still be popular. I am not sure why. Maybe there is some connection between those expensive activities and the everyday life. Most people have no chance to drive a Formula One car, but they can aspire to own a McLaren, maybe that is so out-of-reach, at least they can buy a Toyota. That can be useful as means of advertising and making loads of money.

I think should any Zero-g sport materialized, it'd likely fall into the second kind. Solar sail yacht racing? However, suppose it is as big as NFL, so many players, games, stadiums, spectators, a tradition almost a century old, the most valuable sport league in the world? NFL's season revenue is about $14 billion USD, actually not that big comparing to its size. Does that justify the cost?


Kicking a ball twice in space will be difficult. Try 3D tennis, air polo (based on water polo) and air swimming. The players may need gigantic flippers.

edit:spelling
« Last Edit: 10/15/2017 09:10 AM by A_M_Swallow »

Offline sanman

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #44 on: 10/15/2017 02:49 AM »
How about Reality TV on the Moon - at least during the early novelty phase? You could cover a team trying to accomplish some mission and its objectives - like trying to assemble and deploy a hab, for example. I think Mars One had said they would finance their effort through a Reality TV show - but the Moon seems a much safer bet than Mars.

Online speedevil

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #45 on: 10/15/2017 04:14 PM »
There is also porn.
(nsfw) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirates_II:_Stagnetti%27s_Revenge

Is one of the highest budget porn films ever made - $8M.

It seems unlikely to be a more than several-off niche though.

Offline sanman

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Re: After Rockets, Next Bottlenecks?
« Reply #46 on: 10/25/2017 01:59 AM »
A video on Muskonomics once again brings up the challenge of Market Elasticity:


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