Author Topic: Jeff Bezos believes in space as an industrial park, but not as a backup  (Read 20297 times)

Offline Pipcard

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http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/10/jeff-bezos-dismisses-idea-of-a-backup-plan-says-we-must-protect-earth

Quote from: Eric Berger
During the last year Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has begun to open up about the scale of his ambitions with the rocket company, Blue Origin, explaining that he envisions millions of people living and working in space. Additionally, Bezos has talked about moving heavy industry off of planet Earth to create a garden paradise on our home planet.

In this view Bezos' philosophy differs significantly from the other titan of the new space industry, Elon Musk of SpaceX. Both men agree that reusable spaceflight is essential to lowering the cost of access to space, but they disagree about what to do once we get there. Musk has spoken openly of providing humanity with a "backup plan," and recently revealed his ultra-ambitious plans to colonize Mars with 100 passengers at a time via his Interplanetary Transport System.

Bezos dismissed this approach on Oct. 22, during the Pathfinder Awards at the Seattle Museum of Flight. In remarks first shared by GeekWire, Bezos said Earth should be zoned as a residential area. "I don't like the Plan B idea that we want to go into space so we have a backup planet," he said, noting NASA's efforts to send probes throughout the solar system. "Believe me, this is the best planet. There is no doubt this is the one you want to protect. This is the jewel. We evolved here, we're kind of made for this planet. It's gorgeous, and we can use space to protect it."

Humanity has two futures, Bezos said. It can continue to grow, or it can settle into some kind of population equilibrium. As an example of the planet's limitations he offered energy as an example. Taking the baseline energy use on Earth, and compounding it at 3 percent for 500 years, would require covering the entire surface of the Earth in solar cells to meet the demand by the year 2500. "We need to go into space if we want grow as a species," he said. "Another route would be just to face stasis, but I don't think that's as interesting. I don't think we want to just survive on this planet, I think we want to thrive and do amazing things."

With his reusable approach to lowering the cost of spaceflight, Bezos said Blue Origin will try to provide the infrastructure needed to enable humans to do interesting things in space. Bezos said he believes that if he can provide low-cost access to space, the next generation will figure out how to creatively use zero gravity, 24/7 solar power, as well as valuable resources on the Moon and asteroids.

Not sure what to think; he might be right - it might take too long for a Martian colony to become practically self-sufficient and a viable "back-up" to Earth. Or, both Musk and Bezos may be correct (about backups and industrializing space, respectively); their goals would even complement each other in expanding humanity's presence in space.
« Last Edit: 10/31/2016 04:53 AM by Pipcard »

Offline RonM

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Jeff Bezos is right. Earth is by far the best planet in the Solar System for us to live on. We should take care of it.

Mars as a backup for humanity is a feature of a fully sufficient Mars colony, but from a practical standpoint it is not a good reason to colony Mars. It will cost too much. Reaching a one million person colony that needs no input from Earth will be incredibly expensive. Good luck on getting funding if that's the primary reason.

For a fraction of the cost of a fully sufficient Mars colony, most of the civilization collapsing scenarios on Earth can be mitigated. Asteroid defense, civil defense, disaster relief, securing food production, reducing poverty, renewable energy, etc.

Humanity should try both ideas. Bezos' plan to utilize space to improve life on Earth and Musk's plan to colonize Mars (with less emphasis on doing it as quickly as possible).

Online GalacticIntruder

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I seriously doubt that either the need or the economics of moving to space industrialization, space mining makes any sense in our lifetimes. Maybe in 200 years, and only after advances in space propulsion. That is where Mars comes in, as the driver of such tech and demands.

Bezos' ideas at best is a very long-term hope/wish. Musk's plan is a short-term concrete goal and destination for humanity.

Billionaires have no need to justify and rationalize their space dreams. It is there, and they want to go, and might have the means one day.

If Congress had to choose who to fund, Mr. Musk is the clear choice.
« Last Edit: 10/31/2016 03:20 PM by GalacticIntruder »
Watch out for those pesky corners, they have teeth.

Offline b0objunior

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I seriously doubt that either the need or the economics of space industrialization makes any sense in our lifetimes. Maybe in 200 years, and only after advances in space propulsion. That is where Mars comes in, as the driver of such tech and demands.

Bezos' ideas at best is a very long-term hope/wish. Musk's plan is a short-term concrete goal and destination for humanity.

Billionaires have no need to justify and rationalize their space dreams. It is there, and they want to go, and might have the means one day.

If Congress had to choose who to fund, Mr. Musk is the clear choice.
Then humanity will be bound to earth until it's inevitable death. If we can't learn to live in space, not on a actual body, we cannot go anywhere, even if the tech to go to other solar systems existed. What the point of technology even? Going to Mars, Jupiter? No, it's to find another planet like earth elsewhere. The Mars plans are futile. But again, my take on Mars is that people had their dreams crushed when they where younger, so they are now finding excuses to go to Mars, like the one of living there permanently for saving humanity. That's just funny now.

Offline WBY1984

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It's not about just saving humanity. It is about saving technological civilisation. It is arguable that creating an asteroid deflection capability will be cheaper than a Mars colony. I find it much less certain that such a capability could be maintained over the necessary millennia. Even an underground ark requires an effort of technology and more importantly, a consistency of will over many generations in order to serve its purpose.
 I don't worry about asteroids - I worry about the myriad ways in which our civilisations have fallen in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Amidst that chaos, maintaining a planetary defence capability is not something I'm comfortable relying on.

Offline guckyfan

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Jeff Bezos is right. Earth is by far the best planet in the Solar System for us to live on. We should take care of it.

He may be right. But Mars will be self sufficient before his idea of industrializing space to make earth a nature reserve can even start to take effect.

Offline guckyfan

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I don't worry about asteroids - I worry about the myriad ways in which our civilisations have fallen in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Amidst that chaos, maintaining a planetary defence capability is not something I'm comfortable relying on.

Full agreement. I am not so much worried about humanity being eradicated from earth. But technological civilization may fail, exactly because it is so easy to live on earth. We can afford to fall back on earth.If technological society fails on earth, industrial complexes in near earth space can be evacuated or just die.  Not so on Mars. A society there can only survive by maintaining a technological society and it can survive.

Edit: BTW I find it interesting and encouraging that ideas come forward to be discussed. It was always very fuzzy and unclear to me what Jeff Bezos is aiming for.
« Last Edit: 10/31/2016 06:43 AM by guckyfan »

Offline The Amazing Catstronaut

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Then humanity will be bound to earth until it's inevitable death. If we can't learn to live in space, not on a actual body, we cannot go anywhere, even if the tech to go to other solar systems existed. What the point of technology even? Going to Mars, Jupiter? No, it's to find another planet like earth elsewhere. The Mars plans are futile. But again, my take on Mars is that people had their dreams crushed when they where younger, so they are now finding excuses to go to Mars, like the one of living there permanently for saving humanity. That's just funny now.


But that's the crux of it. You can't live -in- space. You have to live on, or in, a body. We cannot function without specific temperature, pressure and atmospheric enviroments. They require containers.

Earth is a natural container. Mars is a natural container.

The "had their dreams crushed when they are younger" thing is fallacy. I'm a millennial. I wasn't around for the Space Race and only for the tail end of the shuttle era, yet I am still incredibly passionate about manned spaceflight, and more so the colonisation of exo-Earth. I am not a generational freak. I see more passion for spaceflight in the post-lunar generations than the pre. People are now accepting that this is possible and actively moving along the realisation road. If SpaceX fails, somebody else will pick up the torch.


When you have to create philosophical and not technological reasons for why an act is impossible, you are doomed to be proven wrong. The same applied for flight, the same applied for polar exploration. Pessimism is unrewarding - if you are right, you get no satisfaction, nor are you going to be written into the history books. If you are wrong, nobody is going to commiserate you. The onus of proof is not on the dreamers why they dare to dream, but on the doubters who request the dreamers stop.


Nobody is expecting to go to Mars to find Earth. People are expecting to go to Mars, to find Mars.


Now, I would love for us to live in gigantic interplanetary Culture-esque archologies just as everybody else - but we're not going to get there by leaping a hundred steps at once. Did cave men whine about the lack of nuclear fission when we first started to harness wildfire?

Get to Mars. Develop another world, then industrialise the roads between.


Build the wagons to make the wagon train. Settle the towns. Build the interstates - only then do you start developing industries along the trade corridor.

Space is the future, but space itself is mostly worthless. Space is absence. We travel through Space in order to reach an entity of much greater objective value: Stuff.
« Last Edit: 10/31/2016 01:04 PM by The Amazing Catstronaut »
Resident feline spaceflight expert. Knows nothing of value about human spaceflight.

Online TrevorMonty

Our best hope for colonising space is not living on planetary   bodies but artificial free floating habitats. Listen to isaac arthur youtube series and read Arthur Clarke Rama books. The technology  to build these type structures is not that far way, it does require us to mine moon or asteroids in a big way. The economic hurdle to overcome is probably more of an obstacle than technical hurdles.   
Economics requires any space asset to export something to earth to pay its way, energy/electricity is one thing that earth is hungry for and demand is only going to grow.

The infrastructure to build space solar power satellites from ISRU would also enable use to build these large habitats.
« Last Edit: 10/31/2016 05:40 PM by TrevorMonty »

Offline b0objunior

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Then humanity will be bound to earth until it's inevitable death. If we can't learn to live in space, not on a actual body, we cannot go anywhere, even if the tech to go to other solar systems existed. What the point of technology even? Going to Mars, Jupiter? No, it's to find another planet like earth elsewhere. The Mars plans are futile. But again, my take on Mars is that people had their dreams crushed when they where younger, so they are now finding excuses to go to Mars, like the one of living there permanently for saving humanity. That's just funny now.


But that's the crux of it. You can't live -in- space. You have to live on, or in, a body. We cannot function without specific temperature, pressure and atmospheric enviroments. They require containers.

Earth is a natural container. Mars is a natural container.

The "had their dreams crushed when they are younger" thing is fallacy. I'm a millennial. I wasn't around for the Space Race and only for the tail end of the shuttle era, yet I am still incredibly passionate about manned spaceflight, and more so the colonisation of exo-Earth. I am not a generational freak. I see more passion for spaceflight in the post-lunar generations than the pre. People are now accepting that this is possible and actively moving along the realisation road. If SpaceX fails, somebody else will pick up the torch.


When you have to create philosophical and not technological reasons for why an act is impossible, you are doomed to be proven wrong. The same applied for flight, the same applied for polar exploration. Pessimism is unrewarding - if you are right, you get no satisfaction, nor are you going to be written into the history books. If you are wrong, nobody is going to commiserate you. The onus of proof is not on the dreamers why they dare to dream, but on the doubters who request the dreamers stop.


Nobody is expecting to go to Mars to find Earth. People are expecting to go to Mars, to find Mars.


Now, I would love for us to live in gigantic interplanetary Culture-esque archologies just as everybody else - but we're not going to get there by leaping a hundred steps at once. Did cave men whine about the lack of nuclear fission when we first started to harness wildfire?

Get to Mars. Develop another world, then industrialise the roads between.


Build the wagons to make the wagon train. Settle the towns. Build the interstates - only then do you start developing industries along the trade corridor.

Space is the future, but space itself is mostly worthless. Space is absence. We travel through Space in order to reach an entity of much greater objective value: Stuff.
By body I meant a planetary body.

Online IRobot

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I seriously doubt that either the need or the economics of moving to space industrialization, space mining makes any sense in our lifetimes. Maybe in 200 years, and only after advances in space propulsion. That is where Mars comes in, as the driver of such tech and demands.
Makes more sense than a colony on Mars for... what is it really for?

Online Robotbeat

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This is a strawman. "Let's protect Earth." Well, duh. No one who is aiming to settle Mars disagrees with that.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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This is kind of ... dopey.

If either of them get what they are after, the cost of space drops for both. So ... doesn't matter. Except for ... ego.

OTOH ... the first one to bring off an operational mass spaceflight system ... might undercut the other. Being number 2 might carry a penalty.

Could envy or dominance play a role in this "plan B" dissing? Needs to be "my way"?

Sounds like Dr. Malthus is behind Bezos. While Musk fits more with D.D. Harriman. Musk's "win" might be more deterministic (a Mars city), while Bezos more subjective (how does one develop industrial space?).

Also, same means to setup a city on Mars could be applied to all other solar system bodies as needed, just the same two parts. Can the same be said of what Bezos lets us see?

No.

Offline woods170

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This is kind of ... dopey.

If either of them get what they are after, the cost of space drops for both. So ... doesn't matter. Except for ... ego.

OTOH ... the first one to bring off an operational mass spaceflight system ... might undercut the other. Being number 2 might carry a penalty.
Emphasis mine.

Or not. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_the_handicap_of_a_head_start

Online Robotbeat

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Or yeah. Just because someone has a clever name for being second doesn't mean it's better.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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The arguments are about two different approaches that end in the same result - COLONIZATION OF SPACE.

Bezos wants to establish the industry first and Musk wants to establish the habitats first. At this point we do not know which approach will work or even both or neither will work. The settlement of the Americas had both approaches, industry establishment and the habitation "settler" approach. Both worked to some degree and resulted in rapid expansions in the Americas.

Offline daveklingler

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Then humanity will be bound to earth until it's inevitable death. If we can't learn to live in space, not on a actual body, we cannot go anywhere, even if the tech to go to other solar systems existed. What the point of technology even? Going to Mars, Jupiter? No, it's to find another planet like earth elsewhere. The Mars plans are futile. But again, my take on Mars is that people had their dreams crushed when they where younger, so they are now finding excuses to go to Mars, like the one of living there permanently for saving humanity. That's just funny now.


But that's the crux of it. You can't live -in- space. You have to live on, or in, a body. We cannot function without specific temperature, pressure and atmospheric enviroments. They require containers.

Yes!

Quote
Earth is a natural container. Mars is a natural container.

NO!

Good god, no.  Absolutely, categorically not.  Stop it, stop it, stop it, please stop.

Mars is not a "natural" anything.  Mars, for all practical purposes, is just another place in the universe not on the surface of the Earth.  It has a little bit of gravity, but that's at least as much of a disadvantage as an advantage, if not more so.

As O'Neill pointed out many times, it's very easy for people to look at Mars and imagine that humans might live there because all humans come from Earth, and Earth is a planet, and Mars is a planet, therefore humans should live there.

But ALL destinations for human beings offworld are built by human beings, whether in the space between planets or on them.  They all entail building pressure vessels and being limited to living in them.  Functionally speaking, there's no difference between living in a pressure vessel on Mars versus living in a pressure vessel in LEO, except that the pressure vessel in LEO is closer to help in an emergency, in addition to being easier to build and supply.

And as O'Neill pointed out, over and over again, there is no reason that a technologically-advanced civilization needs to live on a planet...except that people have trouble imagining it.

Quote
Get to Mars. Develop another world, then industrialise the roads between.

Build the wagons to make the wagon train. Settle the towns. Build the interstates - only then do you start developing industries along the trade corridor.

Space is the future, but space itself is mostly worthless. Space is absence. We travel through Space in order to reach an entity of much greater objective value: Stuff.

Keep the supply lines short.  The success of every human settlement depends on logistics.

Build an outpost village near civilization.  Industrialize the village and grow it into a town.  Now use that town to build more villages.  All of this can be done with spinning habs at one gee, bringing in resources from asteroids and Earth. 

A town in LEO that can produce materials from asteroid resources would be the biggest enabler of space exploration and colonization that can ever exist. 

As you said, space is worthless.  It's what we plonk into space that creates a destination.  Patiently plonking destinations into LEO, then into GEO, then points further out creates the best chances for success, instead of getting fooled by the mirage of Mars.

Offline daveklingler

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This is a strawman. "Let's protect Earth." Well, duh. No one who is aiming to settle Mars disagrees with that.

If we concentrate on developing the ability to utilize NEO material for industrial purposes in orbit, we also develop the ability to protect Earth.  Colonizing Mars doesn't protect Earth, and it sucks resources and mindshare for a task that's demonstrably unnecessary if we can build 1G colonies and breed in orbit.

Bezos seems to have read the High Frontier and glimpsed the Golden Path.  :)

Luckily, I think economics will lead us in the right direction.  LEO colonies are so much cheaper and more straightforward to build, and once the first spinning colony is built, the paradigm shift will begin.

Offline JasonAW3

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This is a strawman. "Let's protect Earth." Well, duh. No one who is aiming to settle Mars disagrees with that.

If we concentrate on developing the ability to utilize NEO material for industrial purposes in orbit, we also develop the ability to protect Earth.  Colonizing Mars doesn't protect Earth, and it sucks resources and mindshare for a task that's demonstrably unnecessary if we can build 1G colonies and breed in orbit.

Bezos seems to have read the High Frontier and glimpsed the Golden Path.  :)

Luckily, I think economics will lead us in the right direction.  LEO colonies are so much cheaper and more straightforward to build, and once the first spinning colony is built, the paradigm shift will begin.

David, I can't say I can completely agree with you, but your point about using NEO's for resources is taken.

     The problem is the amount of delta V required to first rendezvous with a NEO, be it an asteroid or comet, (the delta V required for a comet rendezvous would be substantially more than with most asteroids) Fuel costs a lot.  In fact, depending on the NEO, it might actually cost less to go to Mars.

      Mars, on the other hand, is an excellent stepping off point for both the Asteroid Belt as well as the outer planets.  The Trojan Asteroids, preceding and following Jupiter, would likewise provide an abundance of resources for long term use.

      The use of stations and colonies around Earth is more of a step stone to other planets.  There is no reason to suppose that both they and a Mars colony are incompatible with one another.  In fact, the way space is colonized will largely depend on both which companies choose to concentrate on which approach to that colonization, and what the profit margins are for each approach.

      As much as many may wish it were otherwise, companies are in the business of making money, not for true altruism.  Some companies are simply taking a longer term approach, to maximize profits over the long term, rather than for the next quarter.  As companies see better and better opportunities to make a profit in space, they will come to depend less and less on the government for income.

     In fact, there will likely come a day where providing services for the government will be the least profitable customer that these companies will have.  true, this maybe twenty to a hundred years from now, but unless something catastrophic happens in the meantime, I have no doubt that this will occur.
My God!  It's full of universes!

Online Coastal Ron

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Not sure what to think; he might be right - it might take too long for a Martian colony to become practically self-sufficient and a viable "back-up" to Earth. Or, both Musk and Bezos may be correct (about backups and industrializing space, respectively); their goals would even complement each other in expanding humanity's presence in space.

In the whole scheme of things, I think both efforts can exist without interfering with each other.  And since both require reducing the cost to access space, both are complementary to a great degree.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline woods170

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Or yeah. Just because someone has a clever name for being second doesn't mean it's better.
It does not have to be. But sometimes it can be. But I digress.

Online Coastal Ron

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Earth is a natural container. Mars is a natural container.

NO!

Good god, no.  Absolutely, categorically not.  Stop it, stop it, stop it, please stop.

Mars is not a "natural" anything.  Mars, for all practical purposes, is just another place in the universe not on the surface of the Earth.  It has a little bit of gravity, but that's at least as much of a disadvantage as an advantage, if not more so.

Our choices for living away from Earth are pretty much:

A.  Adapt to different (i.e. initially lower) gravity environments
B.  Adapt to zero G environments
C.  Create the ability to build massive artificial gravity structures in space

However we don't have enough information yet to understand which of these is achievable, and which are not.

Quote
Quote
Space is the future, but space itself is mostly worthless. Space is absence. We travel through Space in order to reach an entity of much greater objective value: Stuff.

Keep the supply lines short.  The success of every human settlement depends on logistics.

Sure.  And in comparing Musks plans to Bezos, once you send humans to Mars with minimum viable logistics they have a whole world of local resources to rely upon to fill in the rest.  In contrast, any in-space colony will never have local resources to rely upon.

Now I'm not arguing against space colonies, just pointing out that planets have an advantage in the ability to access resources, whereas with space colonies you have to ship EVERYTHING to them.  There is really no chance of a space colony becoming self-sufficient, whereas there is some long-term possibility that a Mars colony could.

Quote
Build an outpost village near civilization.  Industrialize the village and grow it into a town.  Now use that town to As you said, space is worthless.  It's what we plonk into space that creates a destination.  Patiently plonking destinations into LEO, then into GEO, then points further out creates the best chances for success, instead of getting fooled by the mirage of Mars.

I tend to take an "all of the above" approach to this.  I don't think it makes sense to limit humanity to only one path, especially since it will take centuries before we know which one is better (if any).  And since learning how to be competent traveling around in space helps everyone, we are not yet at a point where we have to make a choice about whether Bezos has the better approach or Musk does.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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The problem with "the conquest of space" ( ;D ) has always been (<objective>, <means>, <ROI>).

The "space race"  -> ("HSF to moon and back", <lunar stack>, <national prestige (or "soft power")>). With follow-on of "reusable HSF" -> ("SSF/ISS", <Shuttle>, <follow on prestige>).

Follow on to that appears to be "BLEO HSF" -> ("asteroid rendezvous mission", <SLS/Orion/whatever>, <prestige?>).

SX: Mars -> ("Mars city", <ITS+cargo>, <permanent off earth economy>)

BO: Space -> ("Industrial park", <NG/NA+whatever>, <orbital ecosystem>)

Going beyond governments requires an economic function. A Mars city is compact for concentrated logistical focus, while an "industrial park" is sparse in order to leverage disparate resources spread over vast distances.

While Mars is distant, the logistical path once bootstrapped (ISRU) is shorter - from Mars. The equivalent for the "often closer" Moon/NEOs is not necessarily always better - if you locate your "park" in LEO/GEO, you're still having to acquire resources from the gravity wells, not to mention that with the "working in space" coming/going back to earth for crew avoiding long term occupancy of space as Bezos claims.



Or yeah. Just because someone has a clever name for being second doesn't mean it's better.
It does not have to be. But sometimes it can be. But I digress.
Both of you just like to be oppositional to anything in principle ... ;)

Suggest more justifying content and less reaction.


add:

We don't yet know the resources, cost of production, ... economic "closed cycle" of either BO/SX vision.

For the moment assume they are the same, and that both optimize "access paths/costs" to needed off earth resources, and they're able to anticipate bootstrap needs from Earth (e.g. that both are smart and don't have any bad luck dominating either).

The compact case wins over the sparse case due to interaction "density" - classic bootstrap business.

The sparse case is more durable for exactly the same reason.

So ... Musk is playing the "short term", momentum investment game. Bezos is playing long term, growth game.

Neither are "net profit" businesses.

Exactly like the other businesses they've already succeeded at.
« Last Edit: 11/01/2016 10:10 PM by Space Ghost 1962 »

Offline IainMcClatchie

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Quote from: Dave Klinger
Functionally speaking, there's no difference between living in a pressure vessel on Mars versus living in a pressure vessel in LEO, except that the pressure vessel in LEO is closer to help in an emergency, in addition to being easier to build and supply.

I was going to write what you wrote.

Re: delta-V and thus fuel to get to near Earth asteroids and Mars and so forth.

Past colonies were founded to provide things back home that were more abundant in the new place than in the old.  If activities in space are going to provide stuff to us here on Earth, there is going to be more mass coming down than going up.  In the long run, we only have to get from the surface to LEO, the bulk of all movement after that can be done with momentum exchange tethers.

LEO is best when the thing you need most is on Earth.  What does LEO have that Earth does not?  Better access to the rest of space, somewhat more intense solar radiation, and proximal line-of-sight to billions of consumers.

Mars has propellant but not energy.  I've not yet seen what else it might have.

Some near Earth asteroids will have better ore than is available on Earth.  Some will be closer to the Sun, where solar panels deliver more watts/$ than in LEO.  Maybe mining will make sense.

When I wonder what is to be done that will benefit people here, I think about what is done here:
$1500B/year: oil ($0.40/kg)
$ 900B/year: cellphone plans
$ 420B/year: cement production ($0.10/kg)
$ 100B/year: aluminum mining and refining ($1.80/kg)
$   25B/year: nickel mining and refining ($10/kg)

If people on Earth are going to buy a lot of stuff from space, it's hard for me to see that it's going to be materials, as there is either not enough needed or it's not expensive enough per kg.  So at first, it's going to be communications (and already is, of course, but I mean many hundreds of billions $/year).  Later it might be energy.  Maybe solar power satellites will some day make sense.  I don't see how Mars figures in to any of this.  I think the idea of building satellites in space to avoid most of the cost of boosting them into orbit sounds... pretty far away.

So I think I like Bezos' plan a little better than Musk's Mars ambitions, but I like what I think is Musk's plan to launch lots of very large LEO comsats even better still.

Offline JasonAW3

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Not sure what to think; he might be right - it might take too long for a Martian colony to become practically self-sufficient and a viable "back-up" to Earth. Or, both Musk and Bezos may be correct (about backups and industrializing space, respectively); their goals would even complement each other in expanding humanity's presence in space.

In the whole scheme of things, I think both efforts can exist without interfering with each other.  And since both require reducing the cost to access space, both are complementary to a great degree.

Dang...  Said it with far less words than I used...
My God!  It's full of universes!

Offline savuporo

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Near earth space is already an industrial park, for the past few decades. With all the signs of any other industrial park to the point of creating a pollution problem. So Bezos is not wrong.
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Offline leaflion

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When I wonder what is to be done that will benefit people here, I think about what is done here:
$1500B/year: oil ($0.40/kg)
$ 900B/year: cellphone plans
$ 420B/year: cement production ($0.10/kg)
$ 100B/year: aluminum mining and refining ($1.80/kg)
$   25B/year: nickel mining and refining ($10/kg)

What if we add:

$200B/year: precious metals ($35,000/kg)

That and water (which presumably will quickly bootstrap to being an important in-space resource) are the first things proposed to be mined from NEOs.  The idea of LEO industry is that there is much more downmass than upmass. Doesn't take much prop to de-orbit from LEO, just a heatshield.

Offline leaflion

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Imagine you are in space.  There are 4 main things in space that will kill you.

1. The cold and vacuum.  This is your fast death.
2. Gravity.  Judging by what happens after a year of zero G to things like eyes, bones, etc.  This is your slow killer
3. Radiation.  This is your least-fun way to die. Medium-term.
4. Things that crash into you with a LOT of energy.  This is your unlikely but random and not that unlikely killer.

Now, lets compare how LEO vs. Mars protect you from these 4 Killers

KillerLEOMars
Pressure/Cold >:( >:(
Gravity >:( :(
Radiation :-\ :(
Crashed Into >:( :)

Now lets assume that you have a habitat (space station, hab, etc)

KillerLEOMars
Pressure/Cold 8) 8)
Gravity >:( :(
Radiation :) :-\
Crashed Into :-\ :)

Now, lets see what problems we can solve my throwing mass at them (Shielding, big spinny space stations, etc)

KillerLEOMars
Pressure/Cold 8) 8)
Gravity 8) :(
Radiation 8) 8)
Crashed Into 8) 8)

My highly laboured point here is that initially, Mars seems like it protects you from the dangers of space.  But with our current space station tech, its hardly better than a space station.
As our lifting and in-space resource utilization skills increase, Space stations become more livable than Mars.  I contend that it is easier to design big cheap rockets than to solve the biological issue: living in low-G.

I personally wouldn't move permanently off earth until they are all at least  ;)

Offline daveklingler

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Earth is a natural container. Mars is a natural container.

NO!

Good god, no.  Absolutely, categorically not.  Stop it, stop it, stop it, please stop.

Mars is not a "natural" anything.  Mars, for all practical purposes, is just another place in the universe not on the surface of the Earth.  It has a little bit of gravity, but that's at least as much of a disadvantage as an advantage, if not more so.

Our choices for living away from Earth are pretty much:

A.  Adapt to different (i.e. initially lower) gravity environments
B.  Adapt to zero G environments
C.  Create the ability to build massive artificial gravity structures in space

However we don't have enough information yet to understand which of these is achievable, and which are not.

Huh?  C is a relatively straightforward engineering development process that begins with a spacecraft tethered to a spent stage.  A and B are, I agree, complete unknowns WRT possibility and timeframe.

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Quote
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Space is the future, but space itself is mostly worthless. Space is absence. We travel through Space in order to reach an entity of much greater objective value: Stuff.

Keep the supply lines short.  The success of every human settlement depends on logistics.

Sure.  And in comparing Musks plans to Bezos, once you send humans to Mars with minimum viable logistics they have a whole world of local resources to rely upon to fill in the rest.  In contrast, any in-space colony will never have local resources to rely upon.

Great!  Let's say I drop you directly on top of iron, copper and bauxite deposits on the Martian surface.  What riches!  Now you tell me how long it will take you to do anything with them, say, return ore to a settlement (loading it how and on to what?) and build an electric motor. 

Oh, hey, you've got lots of silicon there.  How long will it take you to refine that silicon to the point where you can build a chip or a solar panel?

Take your time.  No need to be more accurate than plus or minus a few decades. 

Quote
Now I'm not arguing against space colonies, just pointing out that planets have an advantage in the ability to access resources, whereas with space colonies you have to ship EVERYTHING to them.  There is really no chance of a space colony becoming self-sufficient, whereas there is some long-term possibility that a Mars colony could.

Okay, first of all, they're all space colonies.  That's my point.  This idea that Mars is somehow an easier place to start a space colony, because it's a planet and therefore easier because it's a planet and therefore easier, is an unfounded assumption. 

Regarding resources, some time soon (< 10 years) after we (humans) begin launching asteroid retrieval spacecraft, small asteroids measuring in the half-kiloton range can begin to arrive in cislunar space, ready for retrieval to wherever we place stations.  A station in LEO can make a relatively rapid progression, using conventional equipment shipped from nearby, to the point where it can refine and smelt small amounts of ore. 

But we're talking hundreds of metric tons, at the very outset, which is more than any human colony on Mars would be able to even lift on to their little red wagons. 

Please see the Planetary Resources and DSI websites for more detail on asteroid mining.

Quote
Quote
Build an outpost village near civilization.  Industrialize the village and grow it into a town.  Now use that town to As you said, space is worthless.  It's what we plonk into space that creates a destination.  Patiently plonking destinations into LEO, then into GEO, then points further out creates the best chances for success, instead of getting fooled by the mirage of Mars.

I tend to take an "all of the above" approach to this.  I don't think it makes sense to limit humanity to only one path, especially since it will take centuries before we know which one is better (if any).  And since learning how to be competent traveling around in space helps everyone, we are not yet at a point where we have to make a choice about whether Bezos has the better approach or Musk does.

I, however, have enough information to make a judgement call that it is more logical and economical to build colonies in LEO with one Earth gravity and very little required radiation protection, and near enough to Earth that off-the-shelf Earth tools can be easily shipped up.  Based on what we've learned from ISS about equatorial LEO radiation levels, guilt-free baby-making can start immediately. Al Globus says so.
« Last Edit: 11/02/2016 05:15 AM by daveklingler »

Offline savuporo

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Now, lets compare how LEO vs. Mars protect you from these 4 Killers

KillerLEOMars
Pressure/Cold >:( >:(
Gravity >:( :(
Radiation :-\ :(
Crashed Into >:( :)

You probably want to re-think the last part
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013JE004482/full
Quote
Recent orbital imaging of Mars has revealed new impact craters formed within the period of spacecraft observation. Beginning with discoveries by the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) [Malin et al., 2006] and continuing with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) cameras, over 200 new craters or crater clusters have been observed [Daubar et al., 2013].
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline high road

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Now I'm not arguing against space colonies, just pointing out that planets have an advantage in the ability to access resources, whereas with space colonies you have to ship EVERYTHING to them.  There is really no chance of a space colony becoming self-sufficient, whereas there is some long-term possibility that a Mars colony could.

So the big advantage of planets is that you can pollute them all you want without (in the foreseeable future) running out of the raw materials you're not bothering to recycle? That's the second most common argument against space exploration I hear all the time.

Bear in mind that not a single city on earth is self-sufficient, and that even our entire society isn't self-sufficient as we keep burning through mineral reserves and billions of years worth of fossil fuels. If anything, settlements become less self-sufficient as they grow, setting up satellite villages to focus on food production, and focussing themselves on producing what they already have too much of, to sell to others and pay for the things they don't have enough of. Any village that is self sufficient, will either die out because its self-sufficiency comes at a cost that is higher than the market price, or start importing luxury items and services as they build up wealth. Which at that point, they will see as a 'need'.

If self-sufficiency to you only means energy, air, food, water and habitation, I posit that any space station big enough to recycle its own waste into new crops would use the same techniques as any planet with no free oxygen or local biosphere. It would, as technology matures, no longer require a lot of inputs beyond compensating for population growth.

Offline leaflion

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You probably want to re-think the last part
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013JE004482/full
Quote
Recent orbital imaging of Mars has revealed new impact craters formed within the period of spacecraft observation. Beginning with discoveries by the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) [Malin et al., 2006] and continuing with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) cameras, over 200 new craters or crater clusters have been observed [Daubar et al., 2013].

Good point. Revised:

Have a habitat (space station, hab, etc)

KillerLEOMars
Pressure/Cold 8) 8)
Gravity >:( :(
Radiation :) :-\
Crashed Into :-\ :(

Now, lets see what problems we can solve my throwing mass at them (Shielding, big spinny space stations, etc)

KillerLEOMars
Pressure/Cold 8) 8)
Gravity 8) :(
Radiation 8) 8)
Crashed Into 8) :-\

Looks like a LEO space station is a better idea the whole way through now.

I recommend using smiley-face tables to perform trade studies.  I believe NASA has a spec for it.  ::)

Online john smith 19

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It's interesting that this thread has raised several of the questions I wanted to raise on the Martian Homesteading threads.

Unless a government commits to establishing an off Earth settlement regardless of cost then any such settlement must generate some kind of revenue.

Blue and SX can write off the start up costs but in some ways that's the easy part.  The settlement/facility must generate enough revenue somehow to cover it's operating costs, specifically to buy in all the things it needs that it is not self sufficient in.

A settlement that cannot do this is effectively a corporate vanity project that will last as long as it's parents management and stockholders continue to view it as part of their corporate strategy.

BTW Some people seem to think LEO is a place where everything has to be bought up from Earth but as our NEO surveillance improves I expect to see a great many more small(ish) objects that can have their orbital parameters adjusted to bring them to LEO for conversion either into living or working space (with much better radiation protection than anything you are likely to bring up from Earth) or raw material for mfg products.


The question remains what can you make in LEO that is light enough yet has high enough value to justify setting up the facility?
High purity specialized glasses for FO lasers and amplifiers seems to be possible. Possibly a couple of other lines.

Note putting the facility into orbit is not enough.

You need a)Down mass b)regular predictable resupply (where Shuttle fell down) c)Ability to swap out (or land the whole facility) sections for damage analysis, repairs or upgrade. I strongly doubt any facility, crewed or uncrewed, is going to be

Anyone who can't do this is doomed to a "big bang," sending up a stocked up facility, letting it run then de-orbiting the whole thing to recover the finished product. A very  clumsy ConOps.  :(
"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 francesco nicoli

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When I wonder what is to be done that will benefit people here, I think about what is done here:
$1500B/year: oil ($0.40/kg)
$ 900B/year: cellphone plans
$ 420B/year: cement production ($0.10/kg)
$ 100B/year: aluminum mining and refining ($1.80/kg)
$   25B/year: nickel mining and refining ($10/kg)

What if we add:

$200B/year: precious metals ($35,000/kg)

That and water (which presumably will quickly bootstrap to being an important in-space resource) are the first things proposed to be mined from NEOs.  The idea of LEO industry is that there is much more downmass than upmass. Doesn't take much prop to de-orbit from LEO, just a heatshield.

Any serious space industrialisation plan cannot rely on the falsehood "water is precious in space" to finance itself.
Yes, water IS precious in space because access costs are so high. But you won't have any serious industrialisation if space costs remain high. So, if Musk or Bezos or whoever manages to bring costs down (and hell, it looks like both companies' medium term plans could very well deliver that goal) then water in space is no longer precious.

Online Robotbeat

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You probably want to re-think the last part
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013JE004482/full
Quote
Recent orbital imaging of Mars has revealed new impact craters formed within the period of spacecraft observation. Beginning with discoveries by the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) [Malin et al., 2006] and continuing with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) cameras, over 200 new craters or crater clusters have been observed [Daubar et al., 2013].

Good point. Revised:

Have a habitat (space station, hab, etc)

KillerLEOMars
Pressure/Cold 8) 8)
Gravity >:( :(
Radiation :) :-\
Crashed Into :-\ :(

Now, lets see what problems we can solve my throwing mass at them (Shielding, big spinny space stations, etc)

KillerLEOMars
Pressure/Cold 8) 8)
Gravity 8) :(
Radiation 8) 8)
Crashed Into 8) :-\

Looks like a LEO space station is a better idea the whole way through now.

I recommend using smiley-face tables to perform trade studies.  I believe NASA has a spec for it.  ::)
Just in a spacesuit (no shielding), Mars at relevant landing sites has lower radiation dose than ISS. Please correct.

Also, gravity is an unknown. Mars may easily be good enough. And you CAN actually get to Earth gravity by "throwing mass at the problem". Mars also has the advantage that there are FAR more accessible resources than anywhere in the solar system besides the surface of Earth. And for some resources, like iron, it's even more easily accessible than Earth.

Also, WTf is "crashed into"? Mars surface relevant sites are fully protected from micrometeorites. LEO, on the other hand, will always have significant impact risk.
« Last Edit: 11/02/2016 11:35 AM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline vapour_nudge

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You probably want to re-think the last part
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013JE004482/full
Quote
Recent orbital imaging of Mars has revealed new impact craters formed within the period of spacecraft observation. Beginning with discoveries by the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) [Malin et al., 2006] and continuing with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) cameras, over 200 new craters or crater clusters have been observed [Daubar et al., 2013].

Good point. Revised:

Have a habitat (space station, hab, etc)

KillerLEOMars
Pressure/Cold 8) 8)
Gravity >:( :(
Radiation :) :-\
Crashed Into :-\ :(

Now, lets see what problems we can solve my throwing mass at them (Shielding, big spinny space stations, etc)

KillerLEOMars
Pressure/Cold 8) 8)
Gravity 8) :(
Radiation 8) 8)
Crashed Into 8) :-\

Looks like a LEO space station is a better idea the whole way through now.

I recommend using smiley-face tables to perform trade studies.  I believe NASA has a spec for it.  ::)

Good internet etiquette is one smiley per post 😉😄

Offline daveklingler

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You probably want to re-think the last part
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013JE004482/full
Quote
Recent orbital imaging of Mars has revealed new impact craters formed within the period of spacecraft observation. Beginning with discoveries by the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) [Malin et al., 2006] and continuing with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) cameras, over 200 new craters or crater clusters have been observed [Daubar et al., 2013].

Good point. Revised:

Have a habitat (space station, hab, etc)

KillerLEOMars
Pressure/Cold 8) 8)
Gravity >:( :(
Radiation :) :-\
Crashed Into :-\ :(

Now, lets see what problems we can solve my throwing mass at them (Shielding, big spinny space stations, etc)

KillerLEOMars
Pressure/Cold 8) 8)
Gravity 8) :(
Radiation 8) 8)
Crashed Into 8) :-\

Looks like a LEO space station is a better idea the whole way through now.

I recommend using smiley-face tables to perform trade studies.  I believe NASA has a spec for it.  ::)
Just in a spacesuit (no shielding), Mars at relevant landing sites has lower radiation dose than ISS. Please correct.

The Earth's magnetic field plays a huge role here.

Mars - around 255 mSv as measured by Curiosity, plus the 300 mSv the colonist incurs on the way to Mars
ISS as it crosses the equator - about 17 mSv (varies by altitude and inclination)
space station at 500km equatorial LEO - 17.7 mSv, acceptable for safe human breeding

Quote
Also, gravity is an unknown. Mars may easily be good enough. And you CAN actually get to Earth gravity by "throwing mass at the problem". Mars also has the advantage that there are FAR more accessible resources than anywhere in the solar system besides the surface of Earth. And for some resources, like iron, it's even more easily accessible than Earth.

Gravity is a known.  It's safe to say that humans are better adapted to 1G than any other value.  If you're proposing to "fix" Mars' gravity in order to make Mars a better place to colonize, that's all well and good and I wish you luck in your future endeavour.

Saying that there are FAR more accessible resources than anywhere in the solar system (false because asteroid belts) is misleading because even if said resources are lying around one's putative Mars colony, it would be several decades (at least) before anything meaningful could be done with them.

Quote
Also, WTf is "crashed into"? Mars surface relevant sites are fully protected from micrometeorites. LEO, on the other hand, will always have significant impact risk.

A previous poster pointed out that new impact sites are appearing before our very satellites.  The Martian atmosphere and the planet itself provide some protection against meteor impacts, but "fully protected" is not accurate.  Beyond that, though, micrometeorites are not that big on the scale of problems for LEO (or Mars). We've dealt with them for the past few decades.

Offline daveklingler

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Bear in mind that not a single city on earth is self-sufficient, and that even our entire society isn't self-sufficient as we keep burning through mineral reserves and billions of years worth of fossil fuels. If anything, settlements become less self-sufficient as they grow, setting up satellite villages to focus on food production, and focussing themselves on producing what they already have too much of, to sell to others and pay for the things they don't have enough of. Any village that is self sufficient, will either die out because its self-sufficiency comes at a cost that is higher than the market price, or start importing luxury items and services as they build up wealth. Which at that point, they will see as a 'need'.

If self-sufficiency to you only means energy, air, food, water and habitation, I posit that any space station big enough to recycle its own waste into new crops would use the same techniques as any planet with no free oxygen or local biosphere. It would, as technology matures, no longer require a lot of inputs beyond compensating for population growth.

This is an interesting and extremely important point.  We talk about "self-sufficiency" as a goal for Mars settlements because (a) they're so difficult to reach and service that self-sufficiency is absolutely necessary for the colony to survive and (b) space colony people often cite "backup plan" as a reason to build space colonies. 

But LEO colonies don't have to be self-sufficient, because (relative to Mars colonies) soon after they're built they'd be functioning not that differently from terrestrial cities, selling products and importing what they can't make themselves. 

To wit, the bar for a LEO colony to "hold its own", i.e. support its population without heavy subsidies, is much, much lower than the bar for a Mars colony, which IS self-sufficiency.

Online Coastal Ron

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Huh?  C is a relatively straightforward engineering development process that begins with a spacecraft tethered to a spent stage.

Such a configuration would be for testing purposes only, not for normal use.  And that type of configuration is certainly not scaleable.

Quote
Great!  Let's say I drop you directly on top of iron, copper and bauxite deposits on the Martian surface.  What riches!  Now you tell me how long it will take you to do anything with them, say, return ore to a settlement (loading it how and on to what?) and build an electric motor.

Oh, hey, you've got lots of silicon there.  How long will it take you to refine that silicon to the point where you can build a chip or a solar panel?

Take your time.  No need to be more accurate than plus or minus a few decades.

I think it will take many decades, maybe even centuries.  My career has been in the manufacturing world, so I know how hard it is to make things even in the middle of civilization.

But making the same size colony out in space, and not on a big lump of atoms, will take far longer.

Quote

Okay, first of all, they're all space colonies.  That's my point.  This idea that Mars is somehow an easier place to start a space colony, because it's a planet and therefore easier because it's a planet and therefore easier, is an unfounded assumption.

The same can be said about colonies not on a planetoid.  However I would characterize it as a calculated assumption.  And it's certainly one that many feel is worth pursuing.

Quote
Regarding resources, some time soon (< 10 years) after we (humans) begin launching asteroid retrieval spacecraft, small asteroids measuring in the half-kiloton range can begin to arrive in cislunar space, ready for retrieval to wherever we place stations.  A station in LEO can make a relatively rapid progression, using conventional equipment shipped from nearby, to the point where it can refine and smelt small amounts of ore.

All of our mineral extraction techniques here on Earth rely upon 1G gravity, free access to as much air as is needed, and in some cases bulk quantities of complex chemicals.

All we'll have in space is lots of heat and cold, so I'm not sure extracting minerals in space is going to happen at a very rapid pace.

Quote
Based on what we've learned from ISS about equatorial LEO radiation levels, guilt-free baby-making can start immediately. Al Globus says so.

Somehow I don't think there will be a rush to make babies in space right away.  But as I said earlier, I think in-space colonies and Mars colonies can exist at the same time, and even complement each other.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline daveklingler

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It's interesting that this thread has raised several of the questions I wanted to raise on the Martian Homesteading threads.

Unless a government commits to establishing an off Earth settlement regardless of cost then any such settlement must generate some kind of revenue.

Blue and SX can write off the start up costs but in some ways that's the easy part.  The settlement/facility must generate enough revenue somehow to cover it's operating costs, specifically to buy in all the things it needs that it is not self sufficient in.

A settlement that cannot do this is effectively a corporate vanity project that will last as long as it's parents management and stockholders continue to view it as part of their corporate strategy.

BTW Some people seem to think LEO is a place where everything has to be bought up from Earth but as our NEO surveillance improves I expect to see a great many more small(ish) objects that can have their orbital parameters adjusted to bring them to LEO for conversion either into living or working space (with much better radiation protection than anything you are likely to bring up from Earth) or raw material for mfg products.


The question remains what can you make in LEO that is light enough yet has high enough value to justify setting up the facility?
High purity specialized glasses for FO lasers and amplifiers seems to be possible. Possibly a couple of other lines.

Note putting the facility into orbit is not enough.

You need a)Down mass b)regular predictable resupply (where Shuttle fell down) c)Ability to swap out (or land the whole facility) sections for damage analysis, repairs or upgrade. I strongly doubt any facility, crewed or uncrewed, is going to be

Anyone who can't do this is doomed to a "big bang," sending up a stocked up facility, letting it run then de-orbiting the whole thing to recover the finished product. A very  clumsy ConOps.  :(

I think you've framed this issue pretty well.  It's highly unlikely that any government on Earth is going to support a Mars colony in the foreseeable future, and any Mars colony would require constant support for the foreseeable future.  Therefore a successful Mars colony will not exist in the foreseeable future.

For an orbital colony, the necessary support is orders of magnitude smaller and yet still highly difficult to justify.  Tourism will be the first target, and although the market surveys look okay we'll have to wait and see whether that works.  There's also space-based power, a traditional hobby horse, but I tend to discount that because I think we're getting better at generating power near the point of use.

I've wondered myself whether, if we get better at bringing NEOs to LEO and sending products to the surface inexpensively, farming could turn out to be profitable, say on high-value crops that can be grown 24/7 without regard to seasons, insects, blights or natural disasters.
« Last Edit: 11/03/2016 02:11 AM by daveklingler »

Online Coastal Ron

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So the big advantage of planets is that you can pollute them all you want without (in the foreseeable future) running out of the raw materials you're not bothering to recycle? That's the second most common argument against space exploration I hear all the time.

I wasn't aware that we'd run out of any raw materials here on Earth.  Definitely not of the mineral kind.

And if given the chance to start anew on a new world, we certainly have a lot of lessons learned that we'll be able to apply.  For instance, recycling aluminum can significantly reduce the need to mine and refine more aluminum, so I think Mars colonists will be very good recyclers.

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Bear in mind that not a single city on earth is self-sufficient, and that even our entire society isn't self-sufficient as we keep burning through mineral reserves and billions of years worth of fossil fuels.

Let's cut to the chase here - I don't know anyone that thinks Mars will be self-sufficient anytime soon.  If we're lucky maybe a century, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's far longer.

So self-sufficiency is not required to start colonization off of Earth, either for Mars or in-space colonies, since it's a long-term goal, not a near-term one.

Next subject...
« Last Edit: 11/03/2016 01:57 AM by Coastal Ron »
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline daveklingler

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Huh?  C is a relatively straightforward engineering development process that begins with a spacecraft tethered to a spent stage.

Such a configuration would be for testing purposes only, not for normal use. 

Yes, a first step in a relatively straightforward engineering development process.

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I think it will take many decades, maybe even centuries.  My career has been in the manufacturing world, so I know how hard it is to make things even in the middle of civilization.

But making the same size colony out in space, and not on a big lump of atoms, will take far longer.

I can't see how you would arrive at that conclusion.  Making any size colony in LEO is many orders of magnitude more economical and straightforward versus one on Mars.

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Okay, first of all, they're all space colonies.  That's my point.  This idea that Mars is somehow an easier place to start a space colony, because it's a planet and therefore easier because it's a planet and therefore easier, is an unfounded assumption.

The same can be said about colonies not on a planetoid.  However I would characterize it as a calculated assumption.  And it's certainly one that many feel is worth pursuing.

The difference between a calculated assumption and an unfounded assumption is that one can begin making plans based on calculated assumptions.

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Regarding resources, some time soon (< 10 years) after we (humans) begin launching asteroid retrieval spacecraft, small asteroids measuring in the half-kiloton range can begin to arrive in cislunar space, ready for retrieval to wherever we place stations.  A station in LEO can make a relatively rapid progression, using conventional equipment shipped from nearby, to the point where it can refine and smelt small amounts of ore.

All of our mineral extraction techniques here on Earth rely upon 1G gravity, free access to as much air as is needed, and in some cases bulk quantities of complex chemicals.

All we'll have in space is lots of heat and cold, so I'm not sure extracting minerals in space is going to happen at a very rapid pace.

My assertions about LEO colonies are based on the presence of 1G gravity, i.e. SSI-type settlements.

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Based on what we've learned from ISS about equatorial LEO radiation levels, guilt-free baby-making can start immediately. Al Globus says so.

Somehow I don't think there will be a rush to make babies in space right away.  But as I said earlier, I think in-space colonies and Mars colonies can exist at the same time, and even complement each other.

I am not sure what you are talking about when you say "in-space colonies".  To me, Mars colonies are, for all practical purposes, "in-space colonies" that have simply been placed very far away from Earth.

Offline daveklingler

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Let's cut to the chase here - I don't know anyone that thinks Mars will be self-sufficient anytime soon.  If we're lucky maybe a century, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's far longer.

So self-sufficiency is not required to start colonization off of Earth, either for Mars or in-space colonies, since it's a long-term goal, not a near-term one.

I agree.  But near self-sufficiency is relatively necessary right off the bat for a Mars colony, given the difficulty of supporting one, and self-sufficiency is inherently necessary to meet the goal of establishing a "Plan B for humanity", which is the reason most often cited by putative Mars colonists when asked why in tarnation we'd ever want to try to colonize Mars.

Online Coastal Ron

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It's highly unlikely that any government on Earth is going to support a Mars colony in the foreseeable future, and any Mars colony would require constant support for the foreseeable future.

For an orbital colony, the necessary support is orders of magnitude smaller and yet still highly difficult to justify.

Absent some currently unknown "National Imperative", I know of no reason the U.S. Government would spend any public money to directly finance or support a colony off of Earth - regardless where it is.  And I think the same applies to other governments too.

That's not to say that various governments wouldn't spend money to pursue "science", and pay Bezos or Musk to do what they already plan to do so that the governments can tag along.  But I don't foresee that being a majority of the overall funding.

I think colonizing space is going to have to be a primarily privately funded effort.  I'm certainly willing to throw some play money at it, and probably others would be too.  But I don't see any significant revenue streams coming in to help finance any of these efforts.

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Tourism will be the first target, and although the market surveys look okay we'll have to wait and see whether that works.

Sorry, but no.  The market for "experiential travel" (which is what space tourism is initially) is not that big.  And overall tourism is a byproduct of humanities expansion, not a leader.  Plus, what is a space tourist supposed to do?

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I've wondered myself whether, if we get better at bringing NEOs to LEO and sending products to the surface inexpensively, farming could turn out to be profitable, say on high-value crops that can be grown 24/7 without regard to seasons, insects, blights or natural disasters.

Unlikely.  Crops grown is space will be far more valuable supporting self-sufficiency in space.  Ironically crops grown in LEO could be sold to Mars colonists...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online Coastal Ron

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But near self-sufficiency is relatively necessary right off the bat for a Mars colony, given the difficulty of supporting one...

That is not what Elon Musk is planning.  His plan is to double the number of ships going to Mars every synodic cycle.  No one knows if that will happen, but it's clear Musk plans to keep transporting people and materials to Mars in ever increasing amounts.  So the plan is not "one and done".

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...and self-sufficiency is inherently necessary to meet the goal of establishing a "Plan B for humanity", which is the reason most often cited by putative Mars colonists when asked why in tarnation we'd ever want to try to colonize Mars.

Sure.  But there is no defined need date to make that happen, since we don't know when/if the end of the Earth is coming.

It is curious though that you're implying that LEO colonies will never become self-sufficient, yet you pan Mars colonists for trying.  Seems like a double standard to me...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline daveklingler

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But near self-sufficiency is relatively necessary right off the bat for a Mars colony, given the difficulty of supporting one...

That is not what Elon Musk is planning.  His plan is to double the number of ships going to Mars every synodic cycle.  No one knows if that will happen, but it's clear Musk plans to keep transporting people and materials to Mars in ever increasing amounts.  So the plan is not "one and done".

IIRC, he has explicitly stated that the support of multiple governments will be required. So he may plan...

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...and self-sufficiency is inherently necessary to meet the goal of establishing a "Plan B for humanity", which is the reason most often cited by putative Mars colonists when asked why in tarnation we'd ever want to try to colonize Mars.

Sure.  But there is no defined need date to make that happen, since we don't know when/if the end of the Earth is coming.

It is curious though that you're implying that LEO colonies will never become self-sufficient, yet you pan Mars colonists for trying.  Seems like a double standard to me...

No, and of course yes.  LEO colonies may become self-sufficient, and I think it's easier for them to become so.  But it's not necessary.  They're not that far away, and they can effectively participate in most of the things other Earth cities do.

As I've said, Mars colonies have an explicit requirement to become as self-sufficient as possible in the shortest timespan possible because of the high difficulty in supporting them.  That is a completely different standard.
« Last Edit: 11/03/2016 02:44 AM by daveklingler »

Online Coastal Ron

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Just to be clear, I think there is a lot of things that are common between what Jeff Bezos wants to do in space and what Elon Musk wants to do on Mars.

And luckily both have the ability and resources to work on lowering the cost to access space, which is certainly a major barrier to expanding humanity out into space - anywhere in space.

Personally I have more near-term interest in creating LEO space stations, but that is because I've taken an interest in 1st generation rotating space station designs that are scaleable.  It's just a hobby, but I think I understand the challenges involved.

I'm also fascinated by Musk's plans for Mars, although I don't yet understand how his colonization plan is supposed to work, but based on his past success I'm willing to give him some time to figure it out.

In comparison, all we have from Jeff Bezos is the transportation part of the goal he supports, so there is less to get excited over - but hopefully that will change with time too...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline daveklingler

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It's highly unlikely that any government on Earth is going to support a Mars colony in the foreseeable future, and any Mars colony would require constant support for the foreseeable future.

For an orbital colony, the necessary support is orders of magnitude smaller and yet still highly difficult to justify.

Absent some currently unknown "National Imperative", I know of no reason the U.S. Government would spend any public money to directly finance or support a colony off of Earth - regardless where it is.  And I think the same applies to other governments too.

That's not to say that various governments wouldn't spend money to pursue "science", and pay Bezos or Musk to do what they already plan to do so that the governments can tag along.  But I don't foresee that being a majority of the overall funding.

I think colonizing space is going to have to be a primarily privately funded effort.  I'm certainly willing to throw some play money at it, and probably others would be too.  But I don't see any significant revenue streams coming in to help finance any of these efforts.

Yep.

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Tourism will be the first target, and although the market surveys look okay we'll have to wait and see whether that works.

Sorry, but no.  The market for "experiential travel" (which is what space tourism is initially) is not that big.  And overall tourism is a byproduct of humanities expansion, not a leader.  Plus, what is a space tourist supposed to do?

I've seen several market surveys that disagree with your opinion, but I'm skeptical myself.  Regardless, I'm not in the space tourism business and I'm perfectly willing to wait and see.  Argue it out with Mr. Bigelow!

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I've wondered myself whether, if we get better at bringing NEOs to LEO and sending products to the surface inexpensively, farming could turn out to be profitable, say on high-value crops that can be grown 24/7 without regard to seasons, insects, blights or natural disasters.

Unlikely.  Crops grown is space will be far more valuable supporting self-sufficiency in space.  [/quote]

That could be.  Or not.  It's all speculation until somebody sits down with a calculator.

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Ironically crops grown in LEO could be sold to Mars colonists...

I think I've convinced myself (at least) that absent multi-government support, successful Mars colonies will not exist, and neither will any market for high-value crops grown in orbit and stored for a synodic cycle.  Elon's Mars colonists will have to eat each other. 

Which is exactly what I expect would happen.

Online Coastal Ron

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As I've said, Mars colonies have an explicit requirement to become as self-sufficient as possible in the shortest timespan possible because of the high difficulty in supporting them.  That is a completely different standard.

That's your standard, not Musk's.  And he gets to set the goals for his Mars colony, not anyone else.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline daveklingler

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Just to be clear, I think there is a lot of things that are common between what Jeff Bezos wants to do in space and what Elon Musk wants to do on Mars.

Hm.  I'm having a tough time coming up with a list.

Bezos is an avid chess player, as I was once, and chess players have a certain way of thinking.  Bezos researches and plans very carefully.  He has a personal goal, I suspect, of going to the lunar surface some day, and a goal for Blue Origin, which is to provide low cost access to cislunar space.

Musk's goal is explicitly to put human colonies on Mars.  I was once an avid mathematician, as well, and I think Musk's goal lacks rigor.  Of course, I lament the lack of rigor in nearly everything, so for me to say that something lacks rigor is not uncommon.

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And luckily both have the ability and resources to work on lowering the cost to access space, which is certainly a major barrier to expanding humanity out into space - anywhere in space.

Personally I have more near-term interest in creating LEO space stations, but that is because I've taken an interest in 1st generation rotating space station designs that are scaleable.  It's just a hobby, but I think I understand the challenges involved.

Yes, that is my interest as well.  I believe that LEO space stations can be plausibly worth building, and it's much easier for me to see a realistic need to develop infrastructure in LEO.  Said LEO infrastructure makes everything else easier and more economical, so in my opinion LEO infrastructure is ideally a first priority.

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I'm also fascinated by Musk's plans for Mars, although I don't yet understand how his colonization plan is supposed to work, but based on his past success I'm willing to give him some time to figure it out.

Yep.  I'm all for him doing everything he's done so far, and I'll cheer for him if he puts explorers on Mars.  Beyond that I wish that he would use his time and resources to build infrastructure in LEO.  If he does so, he and I will both be happier.

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In comparison, all we have from Jeff Bezos is the transportation part of the goal he supports, so there is less to get excited over - but hopefully that will change with time too...

I'm looking forward to New Armstrong.
« Last Edit: 11/03/2016 03:12 AM by daveklingler »

Offline daveklingler

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As I've said, Mars colonies have an explicit requirement to become as self-sufficient as possible in the shortest timespan possible because of the high difficulty in supporting them.  That is a completely different standard.

That's your standard, not Musk's.  And he gets to set the goals for his Mars colony, not anyone else.

I believe that is actually Musk's standard as well as an axiomatic standard for anyone else who wishes to colonize Mars.  Especially for the reasons that Musk consistently provides.

Offline high road

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So the big advantage of planets is that you can pollute them all you want without (in the foreseeable future) running out of the raw materials you're not bothering to recycle? That's the second most common argument against space exploration I hear all the time.

I wasn't aware that we'd run out of any raw materials here on Earth.  Definitely not of the mineral kind.

Have you quoted the wrong part of my post? I clearly say 'without running out of'.

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And if given the chance to start anew on a new world, we certainly have a lot of lessons learned that we'll be able to apply.  For instance, recycling aluminum can significantly reduce the need to mine and refine more aluminum, so I think Mars colonists will be very good recyclers.

Exactly. Aluminum is not the best example because we're already doing our best to recycle as much as we can (well, in Europe at least, can't speak for the entire world), but phosphorus, fuel, water, plastics, etc. All things we carelessly throw away on earth because we have easily accessible reserves, will still be comparatively hard to extract and refine on Mars, and so more effort will go to recycling as much as we can. Hopefully before the other side of the production process, the waste material piling up in the environment, forces us to do so, like what's happening now on earth.

Same goes for a colony in space, which has to 'import' stuff from asteroids or the moon. They will use the same techniques, as far as spin gravity allows for using the same techniques, as planetary colonies will.

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Bear in mind that not a single city on earth is self-sufficient, and that even our entire society isn't self-sufficient as we keep burning through mineral reserves and billions of years worth of fossil fuels.

Let's cut to the chase here - I don't know anyone that thinks Mars will be self-sufficient anytime soon.  If we're lucky maybe a century, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's far longer.

So self-sufficiency is not required to start colonization off of Earth, either for Mars or in-space colonies, since it's a long-term goal, not a near-term one.

That's the point: a colony that is set up with the only goal that it will eventually be able to sustain it's citizens, will not last unless it does more than just sustaining them. In economics, 'self sustaining' means raking in more revenue than what's needed to cover the cost. But this means exporting enough goods and services to pay for what needs to be imported.

i'll try and explain this more clearly: a colony on Mars that is capable of providing its citizens with food, water, air, and habitation, what people on this forum mean with self-sufficiency, but has no valuable export, will see a steady decline in population as people try to get back to the higher living standards of Earth. The only way to keep them there, is to screw up earth so it's a worse place ot live than Mars.

On the other hand, if there is an export, from Mars or anywhere in the solar system, the colonists can decide for themselves what standard of living they want to keep up with to make a living off that export, what they want to import to keep that standard of living, and as the population grows, what they can be bothered with to do for themselves rather than schlep it across the solar system. This is what a succesful colony has allways been. There is no reason to assume the future will be different.
« Last Edit: 11/03/2016 07:07 AM by high road »

Offline guckyfan

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In economics, 'self sustaining' means raking in more revenue than what's needed to cover the cost. But this means exporting enough goods and services to pay for what needs to be imported.

But a Mars settlement will not use this definition. It will need to be self sustaining in the sense that they can survive when the supply line is cut. I agree that it will take a century but they would very conciously work towards that goal. It is the very reason for its existence. It would drive the financers and the settlers.

Edit: I wrote "for Mars". It seems the rationale for space industry and millions of people living in space as in Jeff Bezos' vision would have a different outlook.
« Last Edit: 11/03/2016 07:42 AM by guckyfan »

Offline high road

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In economics, 'self sustaining' means raking in more revenue than what's needed to cover the cost. But this means exporting enough goods and services to pay for what needs to be imported.

But a Mars settlement will not use this definition. It will need to be self sustaining in the sense that they can survive when the supply line is cut. I agree that it will take a century but they would very conciously work towards that goal. It is the very reason for its existence. It would drive the financers and the settlers.

Edit: I wrote "for Mars". It seems the rationale for space industry and millions of people living in space as in Jeff Bezos' vision would have a different outlook.

Yes, and no people will invest in cutting the supply line until there's a threat that the supply line will be cut. So either that is because 1) investors/funders are backing out, or because earth will no longer pay for 2) political reasons or 3) economic troubles. In scenario 2 and 3, self-sufficiency at a premium over importing cheap will only be preferable when the crisis is at the horizon. In scenario 2, it's even going to be a catalyst of that crisis. And if scenario 1 is the reason, investors REALLY don't want self-sufficiency at a premium unless 2 or 3 happens. If scenario 1 happens because the way to make money turns out to not make money anymore, the locals will not even want to stay. So in all three cases, self-sufficiency at a premium will be postponed until there's no other way. Doing everything yourself is a good way to fail.

This does not include doing things yourself because it's cheaper than importing. That is preferable no matter where you are: free space, asteroids, Mars, Earth, etc.

Unless you get people to pay for the idea of having a completely independent colony, there will be no other alternative. And only because in that case, these people limit their comfort levels to what is possible on the scale of the colony, rather than benefitting from everything civilization has to offer. Think doomsday preppers and mormons. Great idea, but such a colony will grow a lot slower, and will certainly not be the backup of a highly advanced society. Not without going trough another dark age, that is.

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You seem to think the Mars city will be growing for financial reasons, like metal mining. Musk, at least, strongly disagrees. His vision is essentially secular (or at least pluralistic) space Mormons. People who go to start a city because they think it's important for humanity, driven by a purpose beyond themselves, not because they think it'll make them rich.

Because it won't likely make you rich.

"Investors" more like philanthropists or philanthrocapitalists. People who've got the "space religion" and think it's important to establish a permanent human settlement eventually capable of self sufficiency. And also the raw adventure of it.

Mars is not going to become an oil boom town. Bezos seems to think the rest of space will. But I have serious doubts it'll work out that way, as I think the vast majority of space mining operations will be highly robotic even autonomous.
« Last Edit: 11/03/2016 11:54 AM by Robotbeat »
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Online Coastal Ron

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Exactly. Aluminum is not the best example because we're already doing our best to recycle as much as we can (well, in Europe at least, can't speak for the entire world), but phosphorus, fuel, water, plastics, etc. All things we carelessly throw away on earth because we have easily accessible reserves...

We don't "carelessly" throw away as much as we make an economic decision.  It's not easy to extract the mineral components out of our waste, and in many cases it's less expensive to just mine new material and make new parts.

Those living in space or on another planet will have different economic incentives to deal with, and it's likely that they will have an incentive to recycle far more than what we do today.  But that is because of their local conditions, not because of any Earth norms.

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Same goes for a colony in space, which has to 'import' stuff from asteroids or the moon. They will use the same techniques, as far as spin gravity allows for using the same techniques, as planetary colonies will.

I've been looking into rotating artificial gravity structures, and I don't think they will be as simple to implement and use as many people think.  Sure, the concept is likely sound, but we really don't know what materials to use to build large spinning structures that won't fly apart.  And the material required will be MASSIVE.  The energy required to find, process, and move that material to build a rotating space station will be massive too, which means it requires a very large upfront investment.

No doubt Elon Musk needs to find investors of all types to help fund his Mars colony, but building an industrial park in Earth local space could require the same or more in investment.  Which means the time scale for both efforts is beyond generational.

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i'll try and explain this more clearly: a colony on Mars that is capable of providing its citizens with food, water, air, and habitation, what people on this forum mean with self-sufficiency, but has no valuable export, will see a steady decline in population as people try to get back to the higher living standards of Earth. The only way to keep them there, is to screw up earth so it's a worse place ot live than Mars.

Robotbeat said it pretty nicely - those going to Mars are not going there for economic gain, but because they are believers.  Those that fund the effort are not investing because they expect an ROI within their lifetimes, but because they believe the investment will benefit their descendants long after they are gone.

And Elon Musk has even stated that there is no economic engine of growth.  I believe his example was that even if they found pure cocaine on the surface of Mars, it would be uneconomical to ship it back to Earth.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online john smith 19

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That's the point: a colony that is set up with the only goal that it will eventually be able to sustain it's citizens, will not last unless it does more than just sustaining them. In economics, 'self sustaining' means raking in more revenue than what's needed to cover the cost. But this means exporting enough goods and services to pay for what needs to be imported.

i'll try and explain this more clearly: a colony on Mars that is capable of providing its citizens with food, water, air, and habitation, what people on this forum mean with self-sufficiency, but has no valuable export, will see a steady decline in population as people try to get back to the higher living standards of Earth. The only way to keep them there, is to screw up earth so it's a worse place ot live than Mars.
I think that's a pretty optimistic description.   :(

The technology baseline a Martian (or LEO) settlement needs to sustain life is so much higher than that needed for subsistence on Earth that I cannot see how one of them would survive without something generating a cash flow from Earth to pay for all the little things that wear out/need replacing

Presumably a LEO settlement would be set up with some products as part of their core mission.

Mars is more tricky. So far people have suggested produce with the unique "Made on Mars" label, Reality TV shows of various sorts, research labs and retirement homes for the very wealthy. Other options would be to require everyone to come with their own trust fund, or a community chest established by SX and other philanthropists to support everyone who has taken the risk of coming to Mars.

This is not just a matter of closed loop life support. It's the hardware needed to build a closed loop ECLSS. ISRU and 3d printing will reduce the range of products needed but the range is vast to begin with, from EVA suits to LED lights. Most of them needing a  very substantial industrial infrastructure to mfg.

"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 su27k

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Mars as a backup for humanity is a feature of a fully sufficient Mars colony, but from a practical standpoint it is not a good reason to colony Mars. It will cost too much. Reaching a one million person colony that needs no input from Earth will be incredibly expensive. Good luck on getting funding if that's the primary reason.

For a fraction of the cost of a fully sufficient Mars colony, most of the civilization collapsing scenarios on Earth can be mitigated. Asteroid defense, civil defense, disaster relief, securing food production, reducing poverty, renewable energy, etc.

It is a mistake to think Mars colony would be more expensive than fixing Earth, in fact it's the opposite. For example, Imperial College London estimates the cost to half CO2 emissions by 2050 is $2 trillion per year, that's just one of the problems in your long list. The cost of a Mars colony would be rounding error comparing to the resources we spent and will be spending to maintain Earth.

It is a common misconception to think Earth is better than Mars because we have "free" air, water and good temperature range, but none of these are truly free. They're the product of a super complex, global scale ecosystem and climate, which is being strained by 7 billion people. Maintaining and fixing this complex system is going to make the ECLSS for a Mars colony like child's play, and that's ignoring man-made problems like politics, religion and war.

Offline Lar

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And Elon Musk has even stated that there is no economic engine of growth.  I believe his example was that even if they found pure cocaine on the surface of Mars, it would be uneconomical to ship it back to Earth.

I believe he's wrong about that one. The ships are coming back anyway, so the incremental cost is the extra propellant needed. That's it.
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Offline b0objunior

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Mars as a backup for humanity is a feature of a fully sufficient Mars colony, but from a practical standpoint it is not a good reason to colony Mars. It will cost too much. Reaching a one million person colony that needs no input from Earth will be incredibly expensive. Good luck on getting funding if that's the primary reason.

For a fraction of the cost of a fully sufficient Mars colony, most of the civilization collapsing scenarios on Earth can be mitigated. Asteroid defense, civil defense, disaster relief, securing food production, reducing poverty, renewable energy, etc.

It is a mistake to think Mars colony would be more expensive than fixing Earth, in fact it's the opposite. For example, Imperial College London estimates the cost to half CO2 emissions by 2050 is $2 trillion per year, that's just one of the problems in your long list. The cost of a Mars colony would be rounding error comparing to the resources we spent and will be spending to maintain Earth.

It is a common misconception to think Earth is better than Mars because we have "free" air, water and good temperature range, but none of these are truly free. They're the product of a super complex, global scale ecosystem and climate, which is being strained by 7 billion people. Maintaining and fixing this complex system is going to make the ECLSS for a Mars colony like child's play, and that's ignoring man-made problems like politics, religion and war.
Right, lets scrap Earth... Do you understand WHAT are you talking about?

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Suggest you consider economics differently for Musk/Bezos.

Musk's economics are around the formation of a "bootstrap" economy and its ability to leverage local resources considerably, with the long term goal of weaning dependence.

Bezos, in contrast, is focused on reinventing industrialization around space, from resources (asteroids/moon/...) to products/components/WIP/FIGS ... bound for markets largely on Earth.

Both will generate some revenues from entertainment/adventure/tourism that don't work the above basic cycle,  but will advance the marketing/mindshare of interests.

Look to past history of colonization to gain insight into what it takes to achieve a bootstrap and how long dependencies last. Also, at some stage, economic interests will choose to diversify holdings to "buy in" early before value is established, because it is far cheaper, and often the risks are the same as later. Selling futures might likely be Musk's long term ROI. Also, since he has then a means of taking on planets, makes other "real estate" valuable for other reasons.

As to space industrialization, a Bezos might invest in highly automated vertical industries that function differently in space/zero G from the ground up, and without the need for safeguards or environmental concerns, gaining efficiencies impossible elsewhere. You've seen what "China strategies" have done to American manufacturing. What if you could get 100x below that? And perhaps fulfillment from orbit?

In a like way to Musk, Bezos might "sell the future" to various corporate/industrial interests, translating them for a revenue share into a space based reinvention of a specific business category, not priced off of immediate returns but again on projected future value. Again, like in the above Musk example, at some point a corporation might either diversify or hedge with an investment, fearing not being able to call the "tipping point" well.

One could create a "space bubble", much like we saw a "dotcom bubble" back a quarter of a century ago. We're still only partway through the existing Internet disruption, globalism, and nanofabrication. With the future arriving inconveniently and incompletely all the time.

That's a sneak peak at how big big might be.

Online john smith 19

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I believe he's wrong about that one. The ships are coming back anyway, so the incremental cost is the extra propellant needed. That's it.
That's only part of the problem.

The price of whatever you're shipping back to Earth has to be high enough on Earth to make those costs and the delay worthwhile.

Musk didn't think even Crack had a good enough price/lb to justify this.

What commodity/product do you think is that valuable?
"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 Nilof

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I believe he's wrong about that one. The ships are coming back anyway, so the incremental cost is the extra propellant needed. That's it.
That's only part of the problem.

The price of whatever you're shipping back to Earth has to be high enough on Earth to make those costs and the delay worthwhile.

Musk didn't think even Crack had a good enough price/lb to justify this.

What commodity/product do you think is that valuable?

It is not justifiable with a flags & footprint architecture. It certainly is justifiable with an architecture expected to be able of transporting a million people to Mars. Otherwise transporting people wouldn't be viable.

Of course, when instead of Mars you consider large-scale mining of the Moon or Asteroids, transport back to Earth can be made trivially cheap.
For a variable Isp spacecraft running at constant power and constant acceleration, the mass ratio is linear in delta-v.   Δv = ve0(MR-1). Or equivalently: Δv = vef PMF. Also, this is energy-optimal for a fixed delta-v and mass ratio.

Offline high road

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I believe he's wrong about that one. The ships are coming back anyway, so the incremental cost is the extra propellant needed. That's it.
That's only part of the problem.

The price of whatever you're shipping back to Earth has to be high enough on Earth to make those costs and the delay worthwhile.

Musk didn't think even Crack had a good enough price/lb to justify this.

What commodity/product do you think is that valuable?

I know that Musk is the unquestionnable prophet saviour of humanity and all that, but in the same interview he said a trip to Mars would cost 500.000, and the return was free because he needed the ship back. Even ignoring that people need to eat, breathe and defecate once in a while, that's 6.22 bucks per gram. Elon must have a very cheap supplier. Or you guys should not overanalyse what he says in ethousiasm.

Products that would cost enough per gram, although still probably too little to fill up spacecraft: gems and minerals that only formed in Martian geological conditions, if any are found, Martian fossils, even basic ones that are unremarkable on earth, and 'untouched ' Martian water and talismans for the billions of crazy people back here.
« Last Edit: 11/04/2016 10:51 PM by high road »

Online john smith 19

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It is not justifiable with a flags & footprint architecture.
Isn't the fact it is a flags and footprint mission going to rule that out anyway?
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It certainly is justifiable with an architecture expected to be able of transporting a million people to Mars. Otherwise transporting people wouldn't be viable.

Of course, when instead of Mars you consider large-scale mining of the Moon or Asteroids, transport back to Earth can be made trivially cheap.
Which makes Mars less competitive with those other locations.

The question remains, what is this material or product that is worth shipping 140 million miles to the Earths surface that cannot be made  more cheaply closer to Earth and is so valuable to justify doing it?  So far all I've got is something made on Mars specifically to have the "Made on Mars" label on it.

Outside of this it looks like everything else can be made cheaper or better in LEO (because access to very low pressure and/or microgravity is the point of being there). While Mars has lots of "raw material" it would still seem easier to move ever a fairly large NEO into LEO.
"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 meekGee

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Quote from: Dave Klinger
Functionally speaking, there's no difference between living in a pressure vessel on Mars versus living in a pressure vessel in LEO, except that the pressure vessel in LEO is closer to help in an emergency, in addition to being easier to build and supply.

I was going to write what you wrote.


Anyone who thinks in terms of "living in pressure vessels on Mars" is missing the whole point.

Mars has resources and energy, which is enough to build a stand-along civilization.  Sunlight, water, CO2, an endless supply of oars and minerals. And isolation.  So it's inherently different from Cis-lunar space.


ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Online john smith 19

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Suggest you consider economics differently for Musk/Bezos.

I get very suspicious whenever someone tells me normal economics does not apply to someones plan.  :(

It usually does, it just means people are not seeing all of the parts of the system that the business is a part of.

In SX's case I'd note the pretty generous NASA payments for CRS.  SX make much of their commercial manifest but the payments for ISS supply per unit mass are much higher.  SX mention NASA's assistance in the technical support they get but rarely mention that they make a serious amount of cash from those flights.
"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 MP99



I get very suspicious whenever someone tells me normal economics does not apply to someones plan.  :(

It usually does, it just means people are not seeing all of the parts of the system that the business is a part of.

Are you including the cost of Dragon in ISS resupply?

Cheers, Martin

Offline kch

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Anyone who thinks in terms of "living in pressure vessels on Mars" is missing the whole point.

Mars has resources and energy, which is enough to build a stand-along civilization.  Sunlight, water, CO2, an endless supply of oars and minerals. And isolation.  So it's inherently different from Cis-lunar space.

Oars will be handy if you're up a creek without a paddle ... maybe there are canals on Mars?  ;)

Offline Chasm

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I see the difference between the two a bit more philosophical.

Elons basically said "Mars or bust!". Should Jeff answer "Me too!"?
It does not work that way, so he needs something else. (Ignoring for a moment who came first.)


Overall Jeffs approach and the Blue Origin reminds me a bit of a SF book. Part of the set up was sending out colonization ships, not just to one star but several together in one go along the same line. Peeling one ship off every time a star gets passed. Not caring there are habitable planets or not. They simply don't need one as they have the tech not only to survive but to thrive as long as they find some resources.

If you jumps into the deep end, do need to care how deep it actually is? It's not like their goals will be reached any time soon. I think it's much more important to have a diverse set of ideas, priorities, funding and approaches if we ever want to get off this rock in any meaningful numbers.

Offline Vultur

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Sure.  And in comparing Musks plans to Bezos, once you send humans to Mars with minimum viable logistics they have a whole world of local resources to rely upon to fill in the rest.  In contrast, any in-space colony will never have local resources to rely upon.

Now I'm not arguing against space colonies, just pointing out that planets have an advantage in the ability to access resources, whereas with space colonies you have to ship EVERYTHING to them.  There is really no chance of a space colony becoming self-sufficient, whereas there is some long-term possibility that a Mars colony could.

Yeah. And while total self-sufficiency is long-term, <99% self-sufficiency is probably very quickly acheivable. (That is, propellant/breathing air/water/food/simple building materials produced on Mars, stuff like electronics & fancy alloys being brought from Earth.)

It shouldn't take too long even to get to the point of making solar cells.

I think people tend to overestimate the difficulty of making stuff with extraterrestrial resources because our current manufacturing is very complex. But there are often many other ways to do things that aren't economically viable on Earth... but with the different resources and constraints of Mars would make perfect sense.

Also, assuming 10-15 (on Musk's very optimistic timeline) or 20-30 years of advancement beyond today in things like 3D printing and bioplastics (probably extremely important for Mars)...

Offline su27k

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Mars as a backup for humanity is a feature of a fully sufficient Mars colony, but from a practical standpoint it is not a good reason to colony Mars. It will cost too much. Reaching a one million person colony that needs no input from Earth will be incredibly expensive. Good luck on getting funding if that's the primary reason.

For a fraction of the cost of a fully sufficient Mars colony, most of the civilization collapsing scenarios on Earth can be mitigated. Asteroid defense, civil defense, disaster relief, securing food production, reducing poverty, renewable energy, etc.

It is a mistake to think Mars colony would be more expensive than fixing Earth, in fact it's the opposite. For example, Imperial College London estimates the cost to half CO2 emissions by 2050 is $2 trillion per year, that's just one of the problems in your long list. The cost of a Mars colony would be rounding error comparing to the resources we spent and will be spending to maintain Earth.

It is a common misconception to think Earth is better than Mars because we have "free" air, water and good temperature range, but none of these are truly free. They're the product of a super complex, global scale ecosystem and climate, which is being strained by 7 billion people. Maintaining and fixing this complex system is going to make the ECLSS for a Mars colony like child's play, and that's ignoring man-made problems like politics, religion and war.
Right, lets scrap Earth... Do you understand WHAT are you talking about?

I'm talking about the technical difficulty and resources needed to maintain Earth's ecosystem vastly exceeds the technical difficulty and funding needed for a Mars colony, thus it's incorrect to assume we have to choose one over the other. How you get scraping Earth from this is beyond me.

Offline MikeAtkinson

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Sure.  And in comparing Musks plans to Bezos, once you send humans to Mars with minimum viable logistics they have a whole world of local resources to rely upon to fill in the rest.  In contrast, any in-space colony will never have local resources to rely upon.

Now I'm not arguing against space colonies, just pointing out that planets have an advantage in the ability to access resources, whereas with space colonies you have to ship EVERYTHING to them.  There is really no chance of a space colony becoming self-sufficient, whereas there is some long-term possibility that a Mars colony could.

An in-space colony near an asteroid has that asteroids resources to call on, and probably several other asteroids which are only a short distance away in delta-v terms.

Creating the first in-space colony near an asteroid is difficult, but once it has reached a level that it can manufacture other colonies then exponential growth in colony numbers can occur.

Mars seems easier in the short term, the problems all seem manageable. Then given the ITS infrastructure (or similar) in-space colonies in cis-lunar space (for tourism?) can be created and the experience used to create in-space colonies near asteroids.

Online john smith 19

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Yeah. And while total self-sufficiency is long-term, <99% self-sufficiency is probably very quickly acheivable. (That is, propellant/breathing air/water/food/simple building materials produced on Mars, stuff like electronics & fancy alloys being brought from Earth.)
Then you seriously underestimate the problems you're  facing.

There will be a 1001 products that the settlement can't make from scratch and won't be able to for a very long time afterward.
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I think people tend to overestimate the difficulty of making stuff with extraterrestrial resources because our current manufacturing is very complex. But there are often many other ways to do things that aren't economically viable on Earth... but with the different resources and constraints of Mars would make perfect sense.
That's partly true and necessity is the mother of invention but now you're into an R&D cycle to replace a product. Given it's got to fit into a slot in the original equipment it doesn't just have to work it has to work in that slot. That original part may well have been through dozens of iterations spanning years to deliver that level of performance in that form factor. Mfg Tungsten Carbide cutting heads for drilling or excavating is a very specialized technology and if you're using diamond heads then even the raw materials may not exist on planet.

Another case in point. Semiconductors and LEDs (both for lighting and lasers) are the product of multi $Bn factories. While a small scale system (making ones and twos at a time) could be much cheaper no one knows how to build such a system.  And of course it's very doubtful the chip makers will supply the IP needed to duplicate their parts, so you'll have to reverse engineer them.

But these are comparatively simple components.

Personally I would say the EVA suit will be a massive challenge to make locally. It's got a very complex combination of materials (fabrics) and products combined together in a very complex thermoelectromechanical system.

How many people do you know who can make their own gloves? Can they do that in a 3 or 4 layer composite? Worn out EVA suits mean no surface access. No surface operations. That means not being able to access anything that is not directly connected to the settlement. Replacing humans with robot avatars does not help. The problem remains. What do you do when you run out of spares for the parts you can't make?

With humans on site to handle some of the tricky tasks basic ISRU looks pretty viable but self sufficiency as in no resupply from Earth is IMHO centuries away, even with a well worked out plan to do so, rather than letting "market forces" set the make/buy decisions.

This is why I think it's important to find ways for the settlement to generate cash flow from  Earth to buy in those parts it can't make on Mars, and won't be able to make on Mars for a very long time.

That in turn means there has to be a reason for people to be there long term to motivate themselves beyond "making humanity multi planetary."   :(

It's a great sound bite.  It's not really a reason for getting up in the morning on Mars.  :(
"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 guckyfan

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I think, 99% by mass is achievable. But that may leavae 95% of complexity to  achieve. That's the hard part. That's why a large colony is needed, and time. It won't be done in a short time. But roughly from a certain level needed supplies by mass will remain constant while the population grows.

EVA suits may be very complex. One man movable units with manipulator arms will be an order of magnitude at least less complex and for most purposes at least as useful, often more so. VR will help as well.

Offline Vultur

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Yeah. And while total self-sufficiency is long-term, <99% self-sufficiency is probably very quickly acheivable. (That is, propellant/breathing air/water/food/simple building materials produced on Mars, stuff like electronics & fancy alloys being brought from Earth.)
Then you seriously underestimate the problems you're  facing.

Mmm... how? In Musk's plan, propellant/air/water will be locally produced basically from Day One. (The smaller human needs for water and oxygen will just be side products of the propellant ISRU, which already involves melting ice and making oxygen.)

Growing food in greenhouses/artificial environments is well understood, simple building materials takes more development but not that much (sintering regolith, bioplastics, etc.)
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I think people tend to overestimate the difficulty of making stuff with extraterrestrial resources because our current manufacturing is very complex. But there are often many other ways to do things that aren't economically viable on Earth... but with the different resources and constraints of Mars would make perfect sense.
That's partly true and necessity is the mother of invention but now you're into an R&D cycle to replace a product. Given it's got to fit into a slot in the original equipment it doesn't just have to work it has to work in that slot. That original part may well have been through dozens of iterations spanning years to deliver that level of performance in that form factor.

Spare parts in existing equipment, yeah, you have a point. But early on you WILL need that sort of thing shipped from Earth, I'm not arguing that. That 99% by mass I was talking about is "consumables".

Past that start-up period, though, you're talking about making equipment from scratch on Mars, not spare parts for Earth-made stuff. And there you've got much more flexibility to do things in different ways.

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Mfg Tungsten Carbide cutting heads for drilling or excavating is a very specialized technology and if you're using diamond heads then even the raw materials may not exist on planet.

Huh? Diamond is just carbon - we know there's tons of that on Mars. It's in the CO2 atmosphere. And synthetic production of industrial diamond is well understood.



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Another case in point. Semiconductors and LEDs (both for lighting and lasers) are the product of multi $Bn factories. While a small scale system (making ones and twos at a time) could be much cheaper no one knows how to build such a system.

Yes. Granted, semiconductors/LEDs are very low mass/high difficulty so they will be one of the last things made on Mars.

 On a 40-50 year timescale though, much less a century... there are a ton of potential pathways. By that point they may not even be making electronics out of silicon chips anymore, it might be quantum computing (though I am personally skeptical of the practicality of that) and As-S nanotube semiconductors. Or something totally unexpected.



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How many people do you know who can make their own gloves? Can they do that in a 3 or 4 layer composite?

That's not really a fair comparison, as nobody on Earth really has the reason to get that capability on a small scale. I'd be surprised if the descendants of current 3D printing/additive manufacturing technologies 30 years down the line couldn't do that quite easily.

And I'm not sure Mars suits have to be as complex as existing EVA suits. No need for MMOD protection, and the thermal issues will probably go only one way (there is likely enough atmosphere on Mars to deal with cooling). And a real colony will be using simpler mechanical counterpressure suits.

Online john smith 19

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Mmm... how? In Musk's plan, propellant/air/water will be locally produced basically from Day One. (The smaller human needs for water and oxygen will just be side products of the propellant ISRU, which already involves melting ice and making oxygen.)
Full self sufficiency means the settlement is self replicating. If you can't make in the settlement it has to be bought in from Earth so it will be somewhere between 80 and 120days+ to get there.

You're not making a product. You're making the supply chain to make the product. While some products can be made in multiple different ways there are limits. Also you need to factor in the scale of the operation you're talking about. Aluminum production is very energy intensive, which is why most Aluminum smelters are near hydro electric dams, because that is the only way they can get the huge quantities of electricity the process needs. Likewise Iron and Steel production use coke. In principal you can use Methane, but no one AFAIK does so. That's a major R&D project.

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Spare parts in existing equipment, yeah, you have a point. But early on you WILL need that sort of thing shipped from Earth, I'm not arguing that. That 99% by mass I was talking about is "consumables".
That "existing equipment" you casually hand wave is very complex and to design and mfg replacements from local materials will take decades, during which you will need those spares or have a base that's gradually becoming un usable as its systems fail. I would not like to be someone living in such an environment, but if you're happy to do so.... :(
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Past that start-up period, though, you're talking about making equipment from scratch on Mars, not spare parts for Earth-made stuff. And there you've got much more flexibility to do things in different ways.
And of course now they will not be interchangeable with the Earth supplied systems. You'd better hope you don't need any of them (or their space) so you can recycle the materials.
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Huh? Diamond is just carbon - we know there's tons of that on Mars. It's in the CO2 atmosphere. And synthetic production of industrial diamond is well understood.
Again it's the supply chain. In particular a Gigapascal autoclave, which is large and heavy and difficult to make. Yes you can make a smaller one but you're still going to need a big billet of high grade steel, along with the tools to make it out of.

You'll no doubt be waving your hands and saying "But 3d printing can make anything" except something that calls for raw strength is very time consuming to make as it's going to be a solid lump of metal, and 3d printing is actually better at making things with holes in.
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Yes. Granted, semiconductors/LEDs are very low mass/high difficulty so they will be one of the last things made on Mars.

 On a 40-50 year timescale though, much less a century... there are a ton of potential pathways. By that point they may not even be making electronics out of silicon chips anymore, it might be quantum computing (though I am personally skeptical of the practicality of that) and As-S nanotube semiconductors. Or something totally unexpected.
Re read that last paragraph to yourself.

Slowly.

For 4 to 5 decades IE from when a child is born on Mars to the time they are in early middle age, (at least) Mars will have to import parts of all kinds from Earth.

IOW it will have to be doing something to pay for those parts or live in a continually deteriorating base.
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How many people do you know who can make their own gloves? Can they do that in a 3 or 4 layer composite?

That's not really a fair comparison, as nobody on Earth really has the reason to get that capability on a small scale. I'd be surprised if the descendants of current 3D printing/additive manufacturing technologies 30 years down the line couldn't do that quite easily.
It's a trivial prediction that 3d printing will get better. But pinning all your mfg on it and saying "3d printing will cope" is a very dangerous strategy if your life depends on it.   :(

You're really not seeing the bigger picture here. While careful planning can reduce the range of parts and materials that need to be made on Mars to become self sufficient that range will still be huge and for at least one human lifetime the colony will need to be continually resupplied with those parts

I've not even touched on any sort of medicines as off Earth medicine is practically unknown. AFAIK no operation has ever been carried out off Earth so far.

Likewise there are another 100001 specialized chemicals needed to make things or final chemicals. Examples would be the resins used in PCB and the photoresists used to coat them. Again for full self sufficiency you need to either make them on Mars or develop an alternative mfg process that avoids the more difficult materials.
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And I'm not sure Mars suits have to be as complex as existing EVA suits. No need for MMOD protection,
Wrong. IIRC image analysis of Martian surface over about a 5 year period identified about 120-200 new craters using existing cameras more than 0.3m is size. Mars air pressure is good enough to suck the heat out of any uninsulated surface structure but not to protect it from meteorites.   :(
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and the thermal issues will probably go only one way (there is likely enough atmosphere on Mars to deal with cooling).
So MLI is not likely to work and you'll need some kind of foam insulation. You would not want to rely on a double walled Dewar type construction with MMOD. Convection can be a very efficient system for removing heat from a surface structure.
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And a real colony will be using simpler mechanical counterpressure suits.
Again you're pinning your hopes on a system that's not been under active development for decades  :(

Your idea of "self sufficient" is like that of a small farmer in the Mid Western US. The key resource they make that allows them to be "self sufficient" is money. If the industrialized civilization they are a part of failed they would continue only as long as they could find or make spare parts for all the technology they use and diagnose and treat any conditions they suffered from. If not they die.

Until you reach full self sufficiency  Mars will need a cash flow and I think that will continue for at least 50-100 years from first settlement.

I'm taking Musk at his word. He's talking about Mars as a "lifeboat" or a "backup" to Earth. That means (ultimately) being able to restart Earth in the event of a major catastrophe, and being able to survive without any resupply from Earth until that's possible.

That's is a very different proposition from what you seem to think a Martian settlement will be.  :(
« Last Edit: 11/13/2016 05:50 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 guckyfan

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Musks idea of a backup for humanity might attract philantropic support, not sure but possible.

I don't see how an orbital industrial park could attract that kind of money.

So if both are not viable businesses, I see that Mars may happen, but cannot see the same for the in space industrial park.

Offline Vultur

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Mmm... how? In Musk's plan, propellant/air/water will be locally produced basically from Day One. (The smaller human needs for water and oxygen will just be side products of the propellant ISRU, which already involves melting ice and making oxygen.)
Full self sufficiency means the settlement is self replicating. If you can't make in the settlement it has to be bought in from Earth so it will be somewhere between 80 and 120days+ to get there.

Right but we are talking about different stages of development, I think. I see 3 - 4 different stages if it works out at all.

1) Initial start up - melting ice and CH4/O2 propellant ISRU, which produces water & oxygen for human needs also. Everything else imported from Earth.

2) Second phase of start up - food grown on Mars. There would still be some foods brought in but they would be low mass, high value/hard to grow 'luxury' ones like coffee/chocolate rather than staples. Nearly all "technological" components still imported from Earth, but some use of 3D printing for tools/parts and some production of things like bioplastics starts.

At this point they're definitely not self-sufficient, but could probably survive a "missed" synod or two without shipments from Earth.

3) Transition to growth primarily being "Mars side driven". New habitats built on Mars with primarily Martian components, with only some very hard to make high-tech components imported from Earth.

 At this point the colony isn't indefinitely self-sufficient, but with a supply of spare parts can survive fairly long cutoff times (until they run out of spare parts) so a war or economic depression on Earth that cut off travel to Mars for say twenty years / 8 - 10 synods would not be fatal.

4) Complete self sufficiency. Total cutoff would still lead to a drop in standards of living on Mars (some stuff would probably still be cheaper to make on Earth) but colony can survive indefinitely (say at least thousands of years) without Earth input.

The question is how quickly they can move up stages. I think 3) can be reached in 40-50 years if the "Musk plan" lasts that long and thus there is still a commitment to getting to self sufficiency.  4) possibly not too long after that.

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You'll no doubt be waving your hands and saying "But 3d printing can make anything" except something that calls for raw strength is very time consuming to make as it's going to be a solid lump of metal, and 3d printing is actually better at making things with holes in.

It's not just 3d printing. I'm well aware 3d printing isn't an universal panacea for all manufacturing.


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For 4 to 5 decades IE from when a child is born on Mars to the time they are in early middle age, (at least) Mars will have to import parts of all kinds from Earth.

True.

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IOW it will have to be doing something to pay for those parts or live in a continually deteriorating base.

Now that I'm not sure holds true. Depends on how the economics are set up. It's quite possible (likely, IMO) much if not all will be paid for by a "Mars Colony Foundation" nonprofit's investments on Earth. There needn't be actual Mars-side exports.

But there will be, by a few decades in. Maybe not physical exports, at least not primarily, but IP.

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That "existing equipment" you casually hand wave is very complex and to design and mfg replacements from local materials will take decades,

I'm not convinced it would take nearly that long, given motivation to actually pursue it, especially given technology likely to be available 30 years from now (even assuming only incremental improvements in existing tech, no major breakthroughs).

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Wrong. IIRC image analysis of Martian surface over about a 5 year period identified about 120-200 new craters using existing cameras more than 0.3m is size. Mars air pressure is good enough to suck the heat out of any uninsulated surface structure but not to protect it from meteorites.   :(

0.3m craters is way larger than micrometeorites. I don't think Mars suits will need micrometeorite protection, and an impactor large enough to make a foot-wide crater or more would probably damage a human regardless of the suit they wore.


Online john smith 19

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Musk won't have the ability to source deep industrial items on Mars for quite some time. So one compensates by having high lifetime items that are locally repairable/serviceable instead. Which means that obsessive maintenance would be necessary to stave off replacement.
Agreed. But the problem remains how do y ou pay for those parts.
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Bezos OTOH has to reinvent manufacturing/resources/processing in a on-orbit environment, involving trial and error. So lots of facilities to "bootstrap" such need to happen first before you can scale-up and deploy.
Well on the upside the orbital facility has a reason for existing beyond "being there" and it's not entirely unknown territory. This has been under exploration since Skylab in the early 70's. Making a fully uncrewed station is tougher but the real issues with space industrialization has been the unreliability of transport to and from orbit. Set up an operation that allows regular deliveries and collections and things change quite a lot. Such a station is there for the micro gravity, the very hard vacuum and the abundant sunlight.
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While we are not a species that have ever lived on Mars or needed to be supported so remotely, even more of an issue is being off planet in space itself.
Agreed. An atmosphere means you don't have to rely on radiation for cooling and some gravity simplifies design considerably.
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Back to your issue - neither economics close, they are "bargaining" for existence under the same rules.

Same rules but different ways/priorities/means to apply them.

Again, read the past histories of colonization and industrial revolution for applicable examples for each.
Indeed. It's Musk has the more romantic vision, Bezos has potentially the more usable one.
Right but we are talking about different stages of development, I think. I see 3 - 4 different stages if it works out at all.

The question is how quickly they can move up stages. I think 3) can be reached in 40-50 years if the "Musk plan" lasts that long and thus there is still a commitment to getting to self sufficiency.  4) possibly not too long after that.
Without some kind of cash flow you don't move up the scale at all.
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It's not just 3d printing. I'm well aware 3d printing isn't an universal panacea for all manufacturing.
Good to know.

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True.

Now that I'm not sure holds true. Depends on how the economics are set up. It's quite possible (likely, IMO) much if not all will be paid for by a "Mars Colony Foundation" nonprofit's investments on Earth. There needn't be actual Mars-side exports.
I'd love to see if this has ever been done for any other settlement efforts and if so how they worked out.

Otherwise it sounds like wishful thinking on an epic scale.
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But there will be, by a few decades in. Maybe not physical exports, at least not primarily, but IP.
IP in the sense of videos and scientific data of various kinds seems to be a viable revenue stream.
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I'm not convinced it would take nearly that long, given motivation to actually pursue it, especially given technology likely to be available 30 years from now (even assuming only incremental improvements in existing tech, no major breakthroughs).
You are seriously underestimating how hostile the Martian environment is and the extent to which a habitat would have to have its environment monitored and maintained. We have limited knowledge on Mars dust but it's looking both chemically aggressive and toxic.
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0.3m craters is way larger than micrometeorites. I don't think Mars suits will need micrometeorite protection, and an impactor large enough to make a foot-wide crater or more would probably damage a human regardless of the suit they wore.
The implication is that those are just the ones that can be seen from orbit.

AFAIK there is no reason to think that this is the lower size limit for objects making it the surface.

Being under a 3m of regolith is looking like a pretty good idea.
"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 Coastal Ron

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True.

Now that I'm not sure holds true. Depends on how the economics are set up. It's quite possible (likely, IMO) much if not all will be paid for by a "Mars Colony Foundation" nonprofit's investments on Earth. There needn't be actual Mars-side exports.
I'd love to see if this has ever been done for any other settlement efforts and if so how they worked out.

Pretty much every non-profit works this way.  You and I provide money to a non-profit not for the money we get back, but the result we want to support.

And though I never plan to go to Mars, I would be willing to donate to a non-profit whose goal is to make humanity multi-planetary by setting up a human colony on Mars.  And I suspect I'll get the opportunity in the not too distant future.

As to industrializing space, that's a little harder to get emotional over, and I'm not sure who the target market would be.  But luckily Jeff Bezos is the 3rd wealthiest person in the world, so he can afford to do a lot of experimentation, and that will provide the assurance to many others that it's OK to experiment also since Bezos is dedicated to seeing this happen.

What Bezos is proposing complements what Musk is doing, and to some extent probably vice versa, and I fully support both.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline JH

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Not that idle speculation isn't fun, but work has been done to provide real numbers for the micrometeor threat:

http://data.spaceappschallenge.org/ICES.pdf

This gives an impact probability of 0.7% per year per square meter.

Using a conservative interpretation of values from https://msis.jsc.nasa.gov/sections/section14.htm, you get a 95% spacesuited male as having a cross sectional area of 0.56 square meters inclusive of life support backpack (which might be notably smaller on a suit designed for the Martian surface).

This gives puncture-causing impact probability of 0.4% per year of someone standing outside on the Martian surface.

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Several flaws in that article, starting with the idea you'd ever make a pressure vessel on Mars just 25 microns thick (Mylar balloon-like). Second, things just 16microns wide (supposedly the critical limit of puncture) or even 100 microns present zero risk of puncture except at very high altitudes.  They reach terminal velocity which is far subsonic, not just below 1km/s as is claimed. Some day, I want to write a full paper debunking this kind of worry about micrometeorites on Mars.

In a space suit, you'd be extremely well-protected as your suit and helmet would be far thicker than that proposed paper-thin greenhouse.
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I was actually trying to make the point that even with extremely conservative assumptions, the risk was quite low.

Offline guckyfan

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Several flaws in that article, starting with the idea you'd ever make a pressure vessel on Mars just 25 microns thick (Mylar balloon-like).

I see the possibility that greenhouses would be built that way. The proposal was for greenhouses at low pressure.

Online john smith 19

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Not that idle speculation isn't fun, but work has been done to provide real numbers for the micrometeor threat:

http://data.spaceappschallenge.org/ICES.pdf

This gives an impact probability of 0.7% per year per square meter.

Using a conservative interpretation of values from https://msis.jsc.nasa.gov/sections/section14.htm, you get a 95% spacesuited male as having a cross sectional area of 0.56 square meters inclusive of life support backpack (which might be notably smaller on a suit designed for the Martian surface).

This gives puncture-causing impact probability of 0.4% per year of someone standing outside on the Martian surface.
Very interesting paper.

With 42.5Kw per person needed to support a person with artificial (LED?) lit greenhouses that certainly makes a strong case for natural lighting. On that basis a 1000 people would need basically all the output for a naval sized nuclear reactor just for greenhouse lighting.

OTOH it does seem that plants are much more radiation resistant than humans, although that still leaves the question of long term mutation if next years crop is derived from seeds from this years.

Likewise while the risk of MMOD looks to be quite low for a person in an EVA suit greenhouses, by their nature, are large area structures. While any individual unit may be puncture free the chances of all of them remaining so are very slim. Especially given a Musk sized settlement. They will need regular patching and/or repair, although remote monitoring should be fairly easy.
"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 LouScheffer

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If what you want is an Earth backup, the two essential requirements are (a) grow your own food, and (b) build your own shelters.  If you can do this, the colony can survive, though not pleasantly.   On Mars, this would seem to require early 20th century technology - you need to mine materials, refine them, and build engines, pumps, chemical processes, and greenhouses.  You don't *really* need computers, radios, modern medicine, etc.  If you can survive, and grow your colony, these can all be reconstructed.  Might be handy to have a set of paper encyclopedias, though.

This type of primitive independence seems much easier to achieve on Mars than in space.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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It is the gravity element.

For Mars it is an adaptation of existing Earth processes for manufacturing, etc.

For space in a microgravity environment new processes are required for manufacturing, etc. The alternate is to provide a large spinning platform to perform adapted existing Earth processes in an environment with gravity. This may end being the easier method for the majority of in-space materials processes. But that is not to say that microgravity new processes are bad. There is evidence that some new processes in microgravity result in higher quality materials.

Online john smith 19

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But that is not to say that microgravity new processes are bad. There is evidence that some new processes in microgravity result in higher quality materials.
Realistically microgravity and very high levels of vacuum (search wake shield facility) are the reasons to go to LEO for mfg, giving you access to something which is either impossible to get on Earth or very difficult to do on a large scale.

The (very) hard vacuum and high levels of UV also make for a quite effective bio isolation, which would be handy for medical research into highly toxic materials, assuming you car comfortable with the risks of launch and re entry contamination.

I think we should dispose of the idea that moving polluting processes to LEO reduces pollution on Earth.  Unless you're prepared to squirt those pollutants out at escape velocity what you're going to get is a pollutant cloud in the upper atmosphere, not the  lower atmosphere, since any discharge will still be within Earths gravitational field.
"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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If what you want is an Earth backup, the two essential requirements are (a) grow your own food, and (b) build your own shelters.  If you can do this, the colony can survive, though not pleasantly.   On Mars, this would seem to require early 20th century technology - you need to mine materials, refine them, and build engines, pumps, chemical processes, and greenhouses.  You don't *really* need computers, radios, modern medicine, etc.  If you can survive, and grow your colony, these can all be reconstructed.  Might be handy to have a set of paper encyclopedias, though.

This type of primitive independence seems much easier to achieve on Mars than in space.
"build your own shelters" on Mars means quite a bit more than it does on earth, of course. Same with food. But I could see a very steampunk style tech arising if some cataclysmic cutoff happened...
"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

Online john smith 19

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"build your own shelters" on Mars means quite a bit more than it does on earth, of course. Same with food. But I could see a very steampunk style tech arising if some cataclysmic cutoff happened...
With one problem.

No oil + no coal --> No steam.

There is a project to look at the smallest self range of machines and processes you need to self replicate mentioned on The Register but IIRC that used bootstrapping from more primitive versions IE wood, to get to mfg machines in steel.

On Mars you have 2 options for near term heavy energy use. a)Concentrated solar. Direct to the materials. Not PV arrays. and b)Methane AKA biogas systems.

Think "Mad Max:Beyond Thunderdome" in pressure suits.  :(

Amusing to watch. Not so much fun to live through.
"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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Steampunk STYLE. With solar arrays and electric motors, but no ICs.

Try to think out of the box and try not to be so negative. When I look at this thread and do a word count, what percentage is you being negative? If you're just repeating the same arguments? Save the electrons.
« Last Edit: 11/14/2016 02:27 PM by Lar »
"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 bad_astra

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I think the Musk and Bezos rationales complement each other. Colonies historically have had various uses, political-military buffer zones, trade posts, resource gathering and idealisitic (often religious).

We don't know how long that has gone on. Perhaps the Maori's made it to New Zealand over religious differences or were just looking for a better place to live.

Some of the idealistic ones, like the New England colonies become ideal trading groups themselves.

I like the idea of the pre-IC tech colony approach. LES1, AMSAT-OSCAR 7, IMP-8 (not counting Pioneers, Voyagers) show that robust low-tech electronics can be used meaningfully for decades in extremely harsh environments.
"Contact Light" -Buzz Aldrin

Online LouScheffer

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I like the idea of the pre-IC tech colony approach. LES1, AMSAT-OSCAR 7, IMP-8 (not counting Pioneers, Voyagers) show that robust low-tech electronics can be used meaningfully for decades in extremely harsh environments.
Here's (and pumping them down with a home-made vacuum pump).  You can still have simple electronics without a huge industrial base. 

Online TrevorMonty

Steampunk STYLE. With solar arrays and electric motors, but no ICs.

Try to think out of the box and try not to be so negative. When I look at this thread and do a word count, what percentage is you being negative? If you're just repeating the same arguments? Save the electrons.
Actual DSI have steam powered thruster, 150isp?.

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You can even make simple ICs without a huge industrial base. People have done DIY semiconductor device fabrication on the cheap. Universities have the right equipment. If you're willing to compromise on 5-nm-scale feature sizes and live with 5-microns, then you can definitely do it. Instead of crazy multi core Multiteraflops CPU/GPU chips, you'd have an Arduino-like microcontroller for the same die size, but so what? There's a heck of a lot you can do with an Arduino, even a slow one.
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No oil + no coal --> No steam.

Hydrogen + oxygen --> Steam!  :)

Online john smith 19

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Steampunk STYLE. With solar arrays and electric motors, but no ICs.
Actually concentrated solar and biogas are thinking outside the box compared to Earth systems, since neither is used for large scale smelting on Earth. There is a world of difference between the efficiencies of PV cells and motors you can make with primitive tech and what comes off the production lines of current generation mfg plants.
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If you're just repeating the same arguments? Save the electrons.
As I said at that start of both of the "Martian Homesteading" threads I want the human race to expand into space. By the yardsticks of many people that alone makes me a reckless optimist.  :)

What I don't believe is that by someone saying "what we need is.." for example to make humanity multi planetary, that someone else will solve their problem for them.

I think that both LEO and Mars are very hostile environments not because I am "negative" but because they are. I think we can overcome those factors. In the case of LEO mfg to make things that cannot be made on Earth due to gravity or the difficulties of making large scale UHV systems. But that's a reason for setting up a factory, not a settlement.

Mars OTOH is a place you could see people setting up a settlement, but they have the opposite problem. What do they do on Mars that can't be done on Earth? The argument "We'll set up a charity to pay people to live there" sounds very unconvincing.

AFAIK the only time people have set up charities to settle places is for religious reasons. The rest went because someone was going to make profit in the process, either within the settlement (that I can see happening quite easily) or to make money from their home country.

That latter one is the problem I have and that's important because until Mars goes fully self sufficient it will always need supplies from Earth. All the raw materials US settlers got rich off shipping back to their home countries don't apply to Mars. Not my view. Elon Musk's view.

If you can't solve that problem the Mars settlement is like a Mid Western small farmer. It won't survive if anything happens to Earth, which I thought was sort of the point of being there in the first place.  :(

Either you take Musk at his word or you think he's joking. If people think he's joking why would they pay any attention to his plans at all? If people think he's serious then they should think about the problems they are going to have to face.

I want this to work. However wanting something to work does not switch off my faculties for critical thinking.  I'm with Dr Logan on that one.

"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 john smith 19

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You can even make simple ICs without a huge industrial base. People have done DIY semiconductor device fabrication on the cheap. Universities have the right equipment.
Provided you source the wafers. They need a very substantial industrial base as well as a very large amount of energy to produce.

The alternative is to revisit thin film transistors, essentially the tech used for active LCD's
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If you're willing to compromise on 5-nm-scale feature sizes and live with 5-microns, then you can definitely do it.
If you can do 5nm you're ahead of Intel. They've been struggling with 14.

Instead of crazy multi core Multiteraflops CPU/GPU chips, you'd have an Arduino-like microcontroller for the same die size, but so what? There's a heck of a lot you can do with an Arduino, even a slow one.
The problem with all semiconductor systems, which is not shared by say biological systems is the hardware to make them is orders of magnitude bigger than the end product and uses a completely different skillset to make to make it.

You cannot make a chip making machine out of a collection of chips, then use them to make a set of chips to make smaller chips.

Now if you could.....
« Last Edit: 11/14/2016 07:21 PM by Lar »
"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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If you're willing to compromise on 5-nm-scale feature sizes and live with 5-microns, then you can definitely do it.
If you can do 5nm you're ahead of Intel. They've been struggling with 14.

5 micron feature size. Not 5 nm...   5 microns is 5000 nm.   YCLIU.

As robotbeat said, that's quite a few generations back now and probably wouldn't still require billion dollar[1] fab lines

Also, fix yer quotes. It's not that hard. But it makes quoting YOU more work than it should be. I fixed yours this time.

1 - before shipping costs...
« Last Edit: 11/14/2016 07:24 PM by Lar »
"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

Online Coastal Ron

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AFAIK the only time people have set up charities to settle places is for religious reasons. The rest went because someone was going to make profit in the process, either within the settlement (that I can see happening quite easily) or to make money from their home country.

Maybe you don't donate to non-profits, but non-profits already do here on Earth a lot of what Musk wants to happen on Mars.

For instance, I have a family member that supports a non-profit that pays people to go to Central America to teach locals how to grow food in a sustainable way.  In fact there are a lot of organizations that have similar missions for places here on Earth, so paying people to go to Mars to show Mars colonists how to grow food in a sustainable way won't be unusual.

And we shouldn't conflate "colonist" necessarily with "subject matter experts", meaning those willing to live out their lives on Mars may not be experts on food production or mineral extraction and processing.  But they could learn from experts that don't mind being "stationed" on Mars for a Earth-Mars synodic cycle or two.

Which means colonists would pay their own way there, and have to pay for some level of support while there, but non-profits would fund sending subject matter experts to Mars for getting the colonists up to speed on how to become somewhat self-sufficient.  And when I say "self-sufficient", my definition means that little by little the expertise and material needed for a colonists survival transitions to being on Mars.  Which might be decades or centuries.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline LM13

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AFAIK the only time people have set up charities to settle places is for religious reasons.

The Polish Maritime and Colonial League (Liga Morska i Kolonialna) would dispute that.  They were an, essentially, private non-profit that funded Polish immigration to Brazil and Liberia for the purpose of establishing Polish ethnic enclaves that could become a colony in the future.  Their rationale was nationalism, not religion (they were upset at missing out on colonialism due to the whole "occupied and tormented" business through the nineteenth century).  They raised enough money through private donations to buy a new submarine for the Polish navy. 

Arguably, the German colonial empire also fits that definition--it was never profitable, but they kept on sinking funds into it for prestige, for the ideology of Germany's place in the sun. 

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That latter one is the problem I have and that's important because until Mars goes fully self sufficient it will always need supplies from Earth.

Define "fully self sufficient."  Strictly speaking, all the technology needed to actually run a Mars colony once you get there could be built with nineteenth-century or early twentieth-century industry--nitrogen-fixing for fertilizer, the Fischer-Tropsch process, steelworking, turbines, electric motors, none of these require computers.  Supplies from Earth (particularly computer chips) can certainly simplify things and make them more effective, but I'm honestly drawing a blank as to which bare necessities for continued metabolism on Mars can't be made with the tools available to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  You would need a source of initial capital to get things going (build the first power plant, so you can power the factories that make the second, for example), but it won't be needed all that long. 

Online LouScheffer

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[...] Strictly speaking, all the technology needed to actually run a Mars colony once you get there could be built with nineteenth-century or early twentieth-century industry--nitrogen-fixing for fertilizer, the Fischer-Tropsch process, steelworking, turbines, electric motors, none of these require computers.  [...] I'm honestly drawing a blank as to which bare necessities for continued metabolism on Mars can't be made with the tools available to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.   
The big missing piece is the energy supply.   The Austro-Hungarian empire had fuels (wood, coal, oil) they could burn for power and heat.  Nothing on Mars, as far as I know, can burn in the Martian atmosphere.   You might be able to build big solar collecting mirrors that concentrate heat, to heat stuff for chemistry or metallurgy, or to boil water to turn engines.  However, sunlight is not a very dense form of energy, and not available at night.  Everything else could be managed, *if* you have enough energy, but getting the energy seems the limiting problem. 

Offline QuantumG

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I see the difference between the two a bit more philosophical.

Elons basically said "Mars or bust!". Should Jeff answer "Me too!"?
It does not work that way, so he needs something else. (Ignoring for a moment who came first.)

Let's not ignore it. Bezos has been a die hard O'Neillian since his youth. Musk only got interested in spaceflight this century.
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Online john smith 19

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If you're willing to compromise on 5-nm-scale feature sizes and live with 5-microns, then you can definitely do it.
If you can do 5nm you're ahead of Intel. They've been struggling with 14.

5 micron feature size. Not 5 nm...   5 microns is 5000 nm.   YCLIU.

As robotbeat said, that's quite a few generations back now and probably wouldn't still require billion dollar[1] fab lines
5 Microns is about the level of the 6502 and Z80. However the problem with semiconductors is not the linewidth or the clock frequency it's the speed of manufacture unless you bring a full custom semiconductor fab line with you or you standardize around a small number of "array" type devices that can be made fairly easily and customized for different uses as and when needed, while making the bulk of the devices from standard masks (that will still need to periodically replaced).  This however needs deep insight into all pieces of equipment shipped to Mars.

Again it's not just the size of the hardware, it's the specialized consumables the conventional processes use. "Direct write" AKA "Maskless" systems to make individual transistors using lasers have been under development since the early 80's but they are painfully slow
"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 john smith 19

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Which means colonists would pay their own way there, and have to pay for some level of support while there, but non-profits would fund sending subject matter experts to Mars for getting the colonists up to speed on how to become somewhat self-sufficient. 
It's the how settlers will pay for that "level of support" that still seems quite hazy to me.
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And when I say "self-sufficient", my definition means that little by little the expertise and material needed for a colonists survival transitions to being on Mars.  Which might be decades or centuries.
I think that's more in line with Musk's views, although that is quite a long window of vulnerability.
The Polish Maritime and Colonial League (Liga Morska i Kolonialna) would dispute that.  They were an, essentially, private non-profit that funded Polish immigration to Brazil and Liberia for the purpose of establishing Polish ethnic enclaves that could become a colony in the future. 
Then I stand corrected. We know more together than we know alone.

The obvious question is how successful they were in their goal of establishing those settlements and if they still recognizably exist today? If they are not that is not a very encouraging sign of long term survival for such an approach on Mars.
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Arguably, the German colonial empire also fits that definition--it was never profitable, but they kept on sinking funds into it for prestige, for the ideology of Germany's place in the sun. 
That's a whole nation state deciding to do something. It would be an interesting idea if another country hired SX to do the transport for their settlement on Mars.
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Define "fully self sufficient."
Being able to maintain all current systems and replicate the settlement at another site on Mars without any additional supplies from Earth. That includes stocking with consumables like medicinal drugs.
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Strictly speaking, all the technology needed to actually run a Mars colony once you get there could be built with nineteenth-century or early twentieth-century industry--nitrogen-fixing for fertilizer, the Fischer-Tropsch process, steelworking, turbines, electric motors, none of these require computers.  Supplies from Earth (particularly computer chips) can certainly simplify things and make them more effective, but I'm honestly drawing a blank as to which bare necessities for continued metabolism on Mars can't be made with the tools available to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  You would need a source of initial capital to get things going (build the first power plant, so you can power the factories that make the second, for example), but it won't be needed all that long.
The 19th century had plentiful supplies of coal, hydroelectric power and later oil. Duplicating that on Mars either needs a huge PV array, Methane on an industrial scale above that for propellant use or nuclear. It's possible Mars has Uranium or Thorium that can be mined

BTW Without semiconductors (not necessarily processors, just power electronics) 3d printing becomes much  tougher. An exciting challenge for anyone with a lot of free time on their hands perhaps.

This is not academic. If we take Musk at his word the worst case is an Earth that has to be "restarted" from Mars.
"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.

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[...] Strictly speaking, all the technology needed to actually run a Mars colony once you get there could be built with nineteenth-century or early twentieth-century industry--nitrogen-fixing for fertilizer, the Fischer-Tropsch process, steelworking, turbines, electric motors, none of these require computers.  [...] I'm honestly drawing a blank as to which bare necessities for continued metabolism on Mars can't be made with the tools available to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.   
The big missing piece is the energy supply.   The Austro-Hungarian empire had fuels (wood, coal, oil) they could burn for power and heat.  Nothing on Mars, as far as I know, can burn in the Martian atmosphere.   You might be able to build big solar collecting mirrors that concentrate heat, to heat stuff for chemistry or metallurgy, or to boil water to turn engines.  However, sunlight is not a very dense form of energy, and not available at night.  Everything else could be managed, *if* you have enough energy, but getting the energy seems the limiting problem. 
On second thought, the Austro-Hungarian empire could have built a nuclear reactor, if they knew what to do.  The wartime reactors in the Manhatten project (Hanford and the X-10) were actually quite simple.  Natural uranium for the fuel, graphite for the moderator, water or air cooled.  They were re-fueled by hand, pushing slugs through long horizontal tubes with a long pole (used slugs simply fell out the other end into a pool of water).   Control was also by hand.   To make and maintain one of these, you need the ability to mine and purify carbon and uranium, and the rest is pretty simple mechanical engineering.   Probably some simple instrumentation is needed, but it can clearly be done with vacuum tubes since Geiger counters were built in 1928, and the reactors in WW-II.   So this might be the technology of choice if you must get and maintain independence quickly.

Online john smith 19

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On second thought, the Austro-Hungarian empire could have built a nuclear reactor, if they knew what to do.   To make and maintain one of these, you need the ability to mine and purify carbon and uranium, and the rest is pretty simple mechanical engineering.   
The Germans tried and failed to build a reactor with Graphite in WWII. Their Graphite was contaminated with Boron and the either did not not have, or did not know they needed a process to remove enough of it to let the reaction go critical.

And then you're going to need a coal mine on Mars for the source of the Graphite.

Seriously you're absolutely right about growing a Mars settlement being constricted by resources, especially power. Once you're looking at processing from raw ore you realize just how handy coal and oil are as large scale, compact energy sources.

I'll note nuclear is not much direct use for this unless you're looking at a metal or gas cooled reacted running at 800c, not the 300c PWR's run at. Otherwise you're better at electric arc furnaces and using the "waste" heat from the cooling system for the settlement.
"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 LouScheffer

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On second thought, the Austro-Hungarian empire could have built a nuclear reactor, if they knew what to do.   To make and maintain one of these, you need the ability to mine and purify carbon and uranium, and the rest is pretty simple mechanical engineering.   
The Germans tried and failed to build a reactor with Graphite in WWII. Their Graphite was contaminated with Boron and the either did not not have, or did not know they needed a process to remove enough of it to let the reaction go critical.

And then you're going to need a coal mine on Mars for the source of the Graphite.
There is likely no coal on Mars (it's from old biology), so I was assuming that they would get the graphite from CO2 in the atmosphere.  This should also have no appreciable boron or other contamination.  I'm more worried about the uranium supply.

Offline LM13

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There is likely no coal on Mars (it's from old biology), so I was assuming that they would get the graphite from CO2 in the atmosphere.  This should also have no appreciable boron or other contamination.  I'm more worried about the uranium supply.

That's how I would imagine it as well.  Breaking the CO2 into black carbon directly would be the harder way, I think (carbon monoxide apparently doesn't like to dissociate into C and O), but you could take some of the methane you're making for rocket fuel or plastics feedstock and break it back up into carbon and hydrogen and then recycle the hydrogen back into a Sabatier reactor. 

Offline Lar

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And then you're going to need a coal mine on Mars for the source of the Graphite. 

I think when you say stuff like this, people[1] have a hard time taking you seriously. As LouScheffer points out, coal is not the only source for carbon.

1 - at least this person.
"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

Online john smith 19

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There is likely no coal on Mars (it's from old biology), so I was assuming that they would get the graphite from CO2 in the atmosphere. 
Yes, that was my point.

But let's run some numbers.

http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/marsfact.html says the Mars surface atmospheric density is 0.02Kg/m^3, of which 95.32% is CO2 IE 19.06g/m^3 is CO2. Let's say CO2 is 44g/mol so 27% of that is actual carbon.
That's 5.2grams of Carbon/ m^3

Or about 193 cubic metres of atmosphere for 1Kg of carbon.

I'd estimate a reactor runs about 100 tonnes IE 19.3 million cubic metres of atmosphere.

But maybe you can do it with 1/10 that, so it's only 1.9 million cubic metres of atmosphere.

Most people would consider that a very large air movement problem, given the amount of atmosphere that had to be moved when people looked at the idea of extracting water from it for ISRU.

I can say it with a little humor or a lot of maths but the point is basically the same.   :(

I think when you say stuff like this, people[1] have a hard time taking you seriously. As LouScheffer points out, coal is not the only source for carbon.

1 - at least this person.
I wasn't being serious because (AFAIK) no one since at least the days of Viking have suggested that coal or oil could ever have formed to begin with, but that's is the scale of carbon extraction you're looking at to do this.

If there is coal (or oil) on Mars life gets a lot easier but Mars is tough because it has no concentrated oxidizer (IE a decent percentage of O2 in a reasonably thick atmosphere) or large supplies of well concentrated carbon (or AFAIK any other readily combustible element such as say Sulfur).

Perhaps you should try not taking things quite so literally?
"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.

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Thinking about it a more plausible route would be to smelt Iron using limestone, giving a much more concentrated flow of CO2.

Now where to get the heat energy to do this on a enough scale.
"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 Kryten

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Thinking about it a more plausible route would be to smelt Iron using limestone, giving a much more concentrated flow of CO2.

Now where to get the heat energy to do this on a enough scale.
Most limestone is 'old biology' too, it's not likely to be present on Mars in quantity.

Online john smith 19

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Thinking about it a more plausible route would be to smelt Iron using limestone, giving a much more concentrated flow of CO2.

Now where to get the heat energy to do this on a enough scale.
Most limestone is 'old biology' too, it's not likely to be present on Mars in quantity.
I totally forgot about limestone being the remains of sea creatures skeletons.

Not to say something similar can't be done with rock to be found on Mars, but again that's another area where what seems to be simple is in fact not simple.  :(
"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 QuantumG

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Zubrin's suggestion for massive scale power generation on Mars is geothermal. The '92 summer space studies identified all the processes needed to make solar power generation from lunar materials, and a similar study could do the same on Mars. I think the argument relevant to this thread is that economic interaction between Earth and Earth-orbit colonies has always been an integral argument for why they some day will exist, whereas Mars colonization always seems to actively preclude economic interaction - most of which I've not really accepted. The shared ground between the O'Neillians and the von Braunians is the argument that launch costs have to come down before anything will happen.
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Online Coastal Ron

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And when I say "self-sufficient", my definition means that little by little the expertise and material needed for a colonists survival transitions to being on Mars.  Which might be decades or centuries.
I think that's more in line with Musk's views, although that is quite a long window of vulnerability.

Not really.  The modern form of humans have been around for about 200,000 years, and the Earth has been around for 4.5 billions years.

So from that standpoint a century or two is not very long at all.

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The 19th century had plentiful supplies of coal, hydroelectric power and later oil. Duplicating that on Mars either needs a huge PV array, Methane on an industrial scale above that for propellant use or nuclear. It's possible Mars has Uranium or Thorium that can be mined

BTW Without semiconductors (not necessarily processors, just power electronics) 3d printing becomes much  tougher. An exciting challenge for anyone with a lot of free time on their hands perhaps.

You are taking a very narrow view of what Musk's goal is.  In order to be successfully multi-planetary we don't have to rely on just Mars, or just Earth's Moon.  We just can't rely on Earth being around.  So a Mars population might have to rely on supplies from outside of Mars in order to survive on it's own, and that's OK.

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This is not academic. If we take Musk at his word the worst case is an Earth that has to be "restarted" from Mars.

No, that is not what he has said.  You are putting up strawman arguments.

The test would be whether at some point in the future if the population of humans off of Earth can survive without Earth.  And luckily, as far as we know, today it's a goal, not a mandate, since we don't know of a threat to Earth.  But Musk would prefer not to wait, which is why he is pushing this effort forward.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline high road

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Thinking about it a more plausible route would be to smelt Iron using limestone, giving a much more concentrated flow of CO2.

Now where to get the heat energy to do this on a enough scale.
Most limestone is 'old biology' too, it's not likely to be present on Mars in quantity.
I totally forgot about limestone being the remains of sea creatures skeletons.

Not to say something similar can't be done with rock to be found on Mars, but again that's another area where what seems to be simple is in fact not simple.  :(

That's the problem with this whole 'self sustaining' idea. It requires Mars to grow incrementally, slowly scaling up industry by industry required to grow, with the limits of every other local industry that also need energy, labour and replacement parts. The scale at which this becomes more efficient (let alone effective) than importing the stuff you need from an existing industrial base is gigantic.

Online john smith 19

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Not really.  The modern form of humans have been around for about 200,000 years, and the Earth has been around for 4.5 billions years.

So from that standpoint a century or two is not very long at all.
There are various scenarios for trouble with Earth. Some can arise with very little warning and very few options to do anything about them. Some require such concerted action by so many that they are virtually impossible to stop. In that case a few centuries is too long.

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You are taking a very narrow view of what Musk's goal is.  In order to be successfully multi-planetary we don't have to rely on just Mars, or just Earth's Moon.  We just can't rely on Earth being around.  So a Mars population might have to rely on supplies from outside of Mars in order to survive on it's own, and that's OK.
Well AFAIK only Musk has been talking about settlement IE people, eventually whole families living on another body in the solar system and not returning. By definition everyone else is talking "bases" or "factories." From our experience of Arctic and Antarctic bases none of those would survive without constant replenishment from more temperate areas.

Yes it would be wonderful if enough settlements were established throughout the solar system that their resources were diverse enough to set up inter-settlement trade but there is no evidence for anyone planning that on anything like the scale needed.

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This is not academic. If we take Musk at his word the worst case is an Earth that has to be "restarted" from Mars. That's what having a backup in IT terms normally means.
The test would be whether at some point in the future if the population of humans off of Earth can survive without Earth.  And luckily, as far as we know, today it's a goal, not a mandate, since we don't know of a threat to Earth.  But Musk would prefer not to wait, which is why he is pushing this effort forward.
The problem remains how do they buy those things they cannot do for themselves while they are becoming able to do this.  :(
That's the problem with this whole 'self sustaining' idea. It requires Mars to grow incrementally, slowly scaling up industry by industry required to grow, with the limits of every other local industry that also need energy, labour and replacement parts. The scale at which this becomes more efficient (let alone effective) than importing the stuff you need from an existing industrial base is gigantic.
That's true to a point.

However AFAIK historically no settlement society set out with a plan to become self sufficient. They just grew till eventually they got to a point where they could source anything they needed internally. A settlement for which this was a goal could be more structured and hopefully faster.

While this could accelerate the process quite a lot it still leaves the limited labour, energy and materials resources to deal with. This suggests controlled immigration with priority for either people with necessary skills or a willingness to re-train. But that doesn't get you away from being energy limited.

With 42.5Kw per person just for an artificially lit greenhouse a solar array the size of the ISS one would only support 5 people with nothing left to do anything else.  :( Obviously artificial lighting is off the cards for plant growth but 42.5Kw won't melt very much metal. With no fuels from "old biology" that means either biogas or nuclear, both on a very large scale. Biogas is likely to scale with settler numbers. BTW A typical gas turbine fueled by gas from an old land fill site can run 5MW for about 30 years. An unusual definition of "decay heat."  :)

Or as you say just buy the stuff in from Earth, which I think will be the norm for a long time to come.  Which leave the other problem of how to pay for that stuff. 

It's interesting that the Bezos "factory" plan and the Musk settlement plan suffer from opposite problems. Bezos offers a cash flow (it's the reason it's there in the first place) but no option to expand to permanence. Has anyone moved to live on an abandoned oil rig (serious questions. sounds possible if you wanted to. but..) ? How self sufficient are they? How much money does it take to live there per month? while Musk's plan has a vision, but otherwise no real reason to stay other than the vision.  :(
"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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We have went into the weeds talking so much about Mars, which is not the Bezos vision. Let's try to get back on track.
"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 high road

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It's interesting that the Bezos "factory" plan and the Musk settlement plan suffer from opposite problems. Bezos offers a cash flow (it's the reason it's there in the first place) but no option to expand to permanence. Has anyone moved to live on an abandoned oil rig (serious questions. sounds possible if you wanted to. but..) ? How self sufficient are they? How much money does it take to live there per month? while Musk's plan has a vision, but otherwise no real reason to stay other than the vision.  :(

However, settlements have sprung up around mines, railroads, etc. So building up the infrastructure on the 'half way to anywhere' point, aka LEO, will allow us to make the next step affordable: find things that are worth bringing back. If those things happen to be far enough out (and still valuable enough to bring them back), that is the point where people go to stay. The only option of 'permanence' history has ever known. Look up at the cities troughout history, from Alexander to the America's. No matter how self sufficient they are, if they don't have something of value to keep people from leaving, preferably other than being the only one left, they will die out sooner rather than later.

So most of that is Bezos' vision. That's on topic, right?

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Not really.  The modern form of humans have been around for about 200,000 years, and the Earth has been around for 4.5 billions years.

So from that standpoint a century or two is not very long at all.
There are various scenarios for trouble with Earth. Some can arise with very little warning and very few options to do anything about them. Some require such concerted action by so many that they are virtually impossible to stop. In that case a few centuries is too long.

Neither Musk nor Bezos are doing what they are doing because they feel catastrophe is imminent, so stop creating artificial schedules and need dates just to make things look bad.

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You are taking a very narrow view of what Musk's goal is.  In order to be successfully multi-planetary we don't have to rely on just Mars, or just Earth's Moon.  We just can't rely on Earth being around.  So a Mars population might have to rely on supplies from outside of Mars in order to survive on it's own, and that's OK.
Well AFAIK only Musk has been talking about settlement IE people, eventually whole families living on another body in the solar system and not returning. By definition everyone else is talking "bases" or "factories."

Bezos and Musk are talking about high level goals, so of course they are not detailing every single movement of a human.  And they would admit that they don't really know how everything will roll out.

For instance, in order to have factories in space it might turn out that we'll have colonies in space too (likely aboard artificial gravity stations).  Now Bezos doesn't talk about that, but he hasn't ruled it out either.

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From our experience of Arctic and Antarctic bases none of those would survive without constant replenishment from more temperate areas.

By law both the Arctic and Antarctic are only for scientific use, not industrial or private industry.  So drawing conclusions about a future on Mars based on our experiences here on Earth is fraught with bad analogies.

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Yes it would be wonderful if enough settlements were established throughout the solar system that their resources were diverse enough to set up inter-settlement trade but there is no evidence for anyone planning that on anything like the scale needed.

Yet with only the high level plans of Bezos and Musk you are making assumptions about what the details would be about their plans - even though you have not spoken with them.

If asked, I think both Bezos and Musk would not rule out anything at this point, since they are both knowledgeable enough about history to know that the future can unfold in surprising ways.  Meaning it's too early to rule out anything...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online john smith 19

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Neither Musk nor Bezos are doing what they are doing because they feel catastrophe is imminent, so stop creating artificial schedules and need dates just to make things look bad.
There's always plenty of time, until there isn't.  :(
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Bezos and Musk are talking about high level goals, so of course they are not detailing every single movement of a human.  And they would admit that they don't really know how everything will roll out.

For instance, in order to have factories in space it might turn out that we'll have colonies in space too (likely aboard artificial gravity stations).  Now Bezos doesn't talk about that, but he hasn't ruled it out either.
So everything that's not ruled out is possible? Could be? Might be? Perhaps we could just go with what he's said and done?
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By law both the Arctic and Antarctic are only for scientific use, not industrial or private industry.  So drawing conclusions about a future on Mars based on our experiences here on Earth is fraught with bad analogies.
Perhaps, but outside of Apollo, Skylab and ISS they are the only analogies we have.  :( No analogy should be pushed too far however.
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Yet with only the high level plans of Bezos and Musk you are making assumptions about what the details would be about their plans - even though you have not spoken with them.
Have you? If you haven't and you're not telepathic the only way to know what he's thinking is to listen to what he says and see what he does.  So far Blue has done some test flying and said he'd like to see a million people living in space. So would I, but I've no idea how to do it, although lowering the launch price by about an order of magnitude would be a good idea.

But AFAIK that is an aspiration, not a plan.
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If asked, I think both Bezos and Musk would not rule out anything at this point, since they are both knowledgeable enough about history to know that the future can unfold in surprising ways.  Meaning it's too early to rule out anything...
In theory perhaps.

IRL every stop you take opens up a set of options on the "possibility tree" and closes off others. As Blue progress they will have to commit to a course of action.

Keep in mind 1000 000 people means how many New Glenn flights at about 6 at a time? From how many launch sites?
« Last Edit: 11/18/2016 08:26 AM by john smith 19 »
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I'd like to make one general point.

Every time someone speculates about the future plans of Blue or SX or someone else and they add additional things to those plans that represents something else that has to happen for that plan to go ahead as you would want it.

I suggest that anyone doing so should consider the probability that the thing you want to happen will actually happen.

For instance (and OT for this thread) I'd like Bezos to implement this idea as a pair of captured NEO's which spin at either end of longish line to give reasonable gravity and plenty of work space and ultimately plenty of living room. The start of a O'Neillian space settlement. They'd be found by the telescopes currently on NEO search duties and brought in by special probes that would smooth the surfaces and take the resulting dust as reaction mass for a solar powered mass driver to make the necessary course and delta v changes. Fully reusable and using all in space resources and ready to repeat the process once it's ion drive (used to get to the NEO in the first place) was refueled.

But IRL the odds on bet is it will be a set of modules bought up from Earth as a mini station with zero g throughout, possibly from Bigelow, as they seem to give the best volume for launch mass.

"But that's so crude, so lacking in vision" some might say.

Unfortunately that's also the simplest, lowest risk and (when you factor in the substantial development costs for my specialist vehicles to process the asteroids and the tether) cheapest option.  :(

So which would you rather bet on to get done? My approach may never be implemented but the other way is fully viable now if you have a viable transport system (which is what Blue are working on) and valuable enough product, specialized glasses for FO amplifiers and sensors seems close or at the right price per unit mass.

I just ask whenever someone comes up with some neat idea (like using an in space power reactor) they consider the cost and risk that will add to the original plan.  You may have just turned a viable $500m project into a $10.5Bn unviable project.  :(
"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 Coastal Ron

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I'd like to make one general point.

Every time someone speculates about the future plans of Blue or SX or someone else and they add additional things to those plans that represents something else that has to happen for that plan to go ahead as you would want it.

I suggest that anyone doing so should consider the probability that the thing you want to happen will actually happen.

I think most of us do, to some degree, but since there is no standard for calculating the unknown future, it would be hard to judge how well anyone is calculating probabilities.

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For instance (and OT for this thread) I'd like Bezos to implement this idea as a pair of captured NEO's which spin at either end of longish line to give reasonable gravity and plenty of work space and ultimately plenty of living room. The start of a O'Neillian space settlement.... [snip]

But IRL the odds on bet is it will be a set of modules bought up from Earth as a mini station with zero g throughout, possibly from Bigelow, as they seem to give the best volume for launch mass.

"But that's so crude, so lacking in vision" some might say.

I'm pretty sure most people that have a realistic idea about how things COULD unfold in the future (which I count myself part of) would NOT say it's crude or lacking in vision.

In fact I would say what Jeff Bezos wants is what we would call "vision", but "how" it gets done is details.  But you could have someone that focuses just on artificial gravity, and what their solution would be could be "visionary", yet how the bathrooms work on such a rotating station would just be "details".  So there is a hierarchy.

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I just ask whenever someone comes up with some neat idea (like using an in space power reactor) they consider the cost and risk that will add to the original plan.  You may have just turned a viable $500m project into a $10.5Bn unviable project.  :(

Sorry, but you are attempting to throttle enthusiasm, and that doesn't sit well with people, especially when no one knows what will happen in the future.

You could just ignore those that you feel are clearly speculating irrationally?  Might make your life easier...  ;)
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Step 1: a cheap $/kg SHLV vehicle to transport bulk, people and other things to LEO, etc.

Step 2: what makes business sense when using #1.


The business cases that could show up in step 2 is an open question because until you have #1 the evaluation as to what makes business sense is unknown.

Online john smith 19

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I think most of us do, to some degree, but since there is no standard for calculating the unknown future, it would be hard to judge how well anyone is calculating probabilities.
That's not quite true though is it? You can certainly say that "likelyhood" is inversely proportional to the cost of doing something and the risk and the amount of new technology needed.(to the doers, their surroundings and their neighbours).

So building a LOX/RP1 of X 1000 lb thrust has a certain likelyhood.
Building a NTR  of X 1000 lb thrust has a certain (lower) likelyhood
Building an anti-matter rocket of X 1000 lb thrust has  a certain (lower) likelyhood still.

All are (theoretically) possible but the probability of success ranges from strong in the short term to just about possible in the far future.
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I'm pretty sure most people that have a realistic idea about how things COULD unfold in the future (which I count myself part of) would NOT say it's crude or lacking in vision.
It delivers only what is needed in space to directly  carry out the direct goal. It will leave nothing in space that can be used to expand into space. It's pretty much the baseline for any crewed "space factory" concept from the 1970's.
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In fact I would say what Jeff Bezos wants is what we would call "vision", but "how" it gets done is details.  But you could have someone that focuses just on artificial gravity, and what their solution would be could be "visionary", yet how the bathrooms work on such a rotating station would just be "details".  So there is a hierarchy.
A want without a plan is basically an aspiration.  :( That's a hope, and depending on (again) the probability of it happening ranges from this-time-next-year to "Hail Mary pass."  :(
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Sorry, but you are attempting to throttle enthusiasm, and that doesn't sit well with people, especially when no one knows what will happen in the future.
I love enthusiasm, along with imagination.  But I prefer both to grounded in the known.
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You could just ignore those that you feel are clearly speculating irrationally?  Might make your life easier...  ;)
I already do.
"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 john smith 19

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Step 1: a cheap $/kg SHLV vehicle to transport bulk, people and other things to LEO, etc.

Step 2: what makes business sense when using #1.


The business cases that could show up in step 2 is an open question because until you have #1 the evaluation as to what makes business sense is unknown.
The obvious answer is of course a corporation that concludes it can only make a decent return on its investment  by putting a very big payload into orbit and is also willing to fund the development of the LV to do so.

It's a variation on the "What's big enough yet impossible to sub divide to fit on smaller LV's so that SLS has to be used" question.

All I could come up with was a)Very large reflecting telescopes and b)MW sized (and above) nuclear reactors.

I guess the nearest to this would be the USG's need for "Liberty ships" to move a shedload of cargo across the Atlantic.
"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 Ludus

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Both Musk and Bezos want a future where humans are genuinely spacefaring. In the longer term that means there are more human descendants living off the earth than on it. It implies people making a living in a wide range of niches off the earth. Among other things that makes life in general and human descendants in particular harder to extinguish.

The only difference is whether starting from basically nothing, it's better to try to kickstart it in near earth space with a goal of O'Neill like habitats or on another planet. They've got both covered. Both are about getting so many people making a home off of the earth that spacefaring is irrevocable. Both have a sense of urgency that the window of opportunity to do this may not remain open indefinitely.

Online john smith 19

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Reread the OP.

TL:DR Build it and they will come.

A million people at 6 passengers a time on 1 vehicle is 16 666 flights. At 1 flight a day from 1 pad that's 457 years.

With 10 vehicles from 10 launch pads and 5 flights per day/pad (IE pad refurb in < 5 hrs) you can do it in less than 1 year.  That's 24/7/365 operation.

Better make sure those pads don't have any close neighbours.

"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 TrevorMonty

Reread the OP.

TL:DR Build it and they will come.

A million people at 6 passengers a time on 1 vehicle is 16 666 flights. At 1 flight a day from 1 pad that's 457 years.

With 10 vehicles from 10 launch pads and 5 flights per day/pad (IE pad refurb in < 5 hrs) you can do it in less than 1 year.  That's 24/7/365 operation.

Better make sure those pads don't have any close neighbours.
NG would be capable of 20-30 passengers. ITS 200-300, New Armstrong 100+?.  Still going to take a few 1000 launches.

Offline FinalFrontier

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Do both. Colonize and develop other planets and heavenly bodies and also use space for heavy industry so that perhaps just maybe we can clean up the Earth.

Both of these things can be enabled by efficient reliable low cost access to both LEO and deep space, therefore it doesn't matter what the differences of vision are, the more companies and other entities working on the problem the better.
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Online john smith 19

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NG would be capable of 20-30 passengers. ITS 200-300, New Armstrong 100+?.  Still going to take a few 1000 launches.
At 100 passengers a time that's 10 000 launches

Still a lot of launches.

Basically that stretch of sea under the flight path will be permanently off limits. 
"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 Nilof

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Then again, modern air travel has reached ~100k airline flights worldwide every single day.

Rocket flights are a lot harder, but 10k flights within a decade or two should be possible to do by the time you really make reusable rockets practical and reliable and assuming there is an economic motivation to do it. Flipping it the other way around, it "only" requires a launch cadence on the order of one a day.
« Last Edit: 11/27/2016 07:56 PM by Nilof »
For a variable Isp spacecraft running at constant power and constant acceleration, the mass ratio is linear in delta-v.   Δv = ve0(MR-1). Or equivalently: Δv = vef PMF. Also, this is energy-optimal for a fixed delta-v and mass ratio.

Online john smith 19

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Then again, modern air travel has reached ~100k airline flights worldwide every single day.
A point the designers of Skylon were well aware of.
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assuming there is an economic motivation to do it.
That's the biggest joker in the pack.
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Flipping it the other way around, it "only" requires a launch cadence on the order of one a day.
Over what period were you counting?

If New Glenn is good for a 100 passengers that's 10 000  flights.

To move 1 000 000 people in a year to LEO with 10 vehicles takes 10 pads and a pad refurb time of 8 3/4 hours.

You appear to have increased vehicle capacity by a factor of 3.

"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 Robotbeat

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"On the order of"
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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As far as why a large SHLV is better vs a small LV is the mechanics of launch costs. There are many items that have fixed costs no matter the LV size. And other items that are almost so trivial in costs related to size they do not affect the end costs. But a semi-reusable LV that lowers the cost factor relative to size makes the fixed values more significant. Such that using larger LVs will lower the $/kg without having to work hard at lowering the costs. Other items also are incentives for going large and that is the cube rate for volume vs the square rate for costs of LVs. Volume controls the relative LV performance. Meaning with all other things equal a larger LV (up to a point for the manufacturing limits not requiring different methods) a larger LV will offer significantly lower $/kg prices than smaller LVs.
« Last Edit: 12/04/2016 04:33 PM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Online john smith 19

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As far as why a large SHLV is better vs a small LV is the mechanics of launch costs. There are many items that have fixed costs no matter the LV size. And other items that are almost so trivial in costs related to size they do not affect the end costs. But a semi-reusable LV that lowers the cost factor relative to size makes the fixed values more significant. Such that using larger LVs will lower the $/kg without having to work hard at lowering the costs. Other items also are incentives for going large and that is the cube rate for volume vs the square rate for costs of LVs. Volume controls the relative LV performance. Meaning with all other things equal a larger LV (up to a point for the manufacturing limits not requiring different methods) a larger LV will offer significantly lower $/kg prices than smaller LVs.
As Jess Sponable noted during the DC-X project you need to be very careful with how cost scales with the square or the cube of length (in any direction). Larger surface area gives a bigger TPS but can also give lower per unit mass, hence higher entry and easier TPS requirements.

Lowering the $/lb was basically the Saturn V approach and the SLS approach. I'd agree scaling up is not as tough as some think, as long as you're below the intrinsic size limits of the mfg hardware but you still end up with a big absolute  launch price instead. A vehicle putting 16 tonnes into LEO for 62m. A vehicle that can put 160 tonnes into orbit for $160m is 1/3 the cost per Kg if fully  used. Otherwise it's about 3x the cost for the same 16 tonne payload.

True, things like range costs and GNC are about the same regardless of what TSTO is sitting on a pad.
"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 oldAtlas_Eguy

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As far as why a large SHLV is better vs a small LV is the mechanics of launch costs. There are many items that have fixed costs no matter the LV size. And other items that are almost so trivial in costs related to size they do not affect the end costs. But a semi-reusable LV that lowers the cost factor relative to size makes the fixed values more significant. Such that using larger LVs will lower the $/kg without having to work hard at lowering the costs. Other items also are incentives for going large and that is the cube rate for volume vs the square rate for costs of LVs. Volume controls the relative LV performance. Meaning with all other things equal a larger LV (up to a point for the manufacturing limits not requiring different methods) a larger LV will offer significantly lower $/kg prices than smaller LVs.
As Jess Sponable noted during the DC-X project you need to be very careful with how cost scales with the square or the cube of length (in any direction). Larger surface area gives a bigger TPS but can also give lower per unit mass, hence higher entry and easier TPS requirements.

Lowering the $/lb was basically the Saturn V approach and the SLS approach. I'd agree scaling up is not as tough as some think, as long as you're below the intrinsic size limits of the mfg hardware but you still end up with a big absolute  launch price instead. A vehicle putting 16 tonnes into LEO for 62m. A vehicle that can put 160 tonnes into orbit for $160m is 1/3 the cost per Kg if fully  used. Otherwise it's about 3x the cost for the same 16 tonne payload.

True, things like range costs and GNC are about the same regardless of what TSTO is sitting on a pad.
It comes down to what are the goals
1) independent orbits of small (<10mt) satellites
2) bulk cargo and personnel to the same orbit (space station) or planetary body

For the 1st case a medium or medium heavy launcher may be the best fit.
For the 2nd case an SHLV where the more the better both for initially putting up the station and then support for a the large >12 person station.

Jeff Bezos goals align with the second case. Elon Musk's goals also align with the 2nd goal with the 1st goal only a signpost on the road to get there.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Both Jeff's and Elon's goals are enormous undertakings with no guarantees of success. In particular the economic viability of both are a huge unknown.

For example, can we afford the investment needed to get in space manufacturing to the point it can reasonably replace Earth based equivalents? Perhaps mining NEOs might generate a return to enable this but again completely unproven at this point.

In terms of technology development, being near Earth in my view allows a more incremental approach, due to support from Earth, ease of personnel rotation etc.

It's an interesting debate but I think too little data yet to conclude much.  To me all that matters right now is that there are people with considerable will, means and growing track records in space who are going to give it a go. That is unprecedented and in uncertain times is both inspiring and gives me hope for the future.
« Last Edit: 12/18/2016 08:37 AM by FutureSpaceTourist »

Online meekGee

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[...] Strictly speaking, all the technology needed to actually run a Mars colony once you get there could be built with nineteenth-century or early twentieth-century industry--nitrogen-fixing for fertilizer, the Fischer-Tropsch process, steelworking, turbines, electric motors, none of these require computers.  [...] I'm honestly drawing a blank as to which bare necessities for continued metabolism on Mars can't be made with the tools available to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.   
The big missing piece is the energy supply.   The Austro-Hungarian empire had fuels (wood, coal, oil) they could burn for power and heat.  Nothing on Mars, as far as I know, can burn in the Martian atmosphere.   You might be able to build big solar collecting mirrors that concentrate heat, to heat stuff for chemistry or metallurgy, or to boil water to turn engines.  However, sunlight is not a very dense form of energy, and not available at night.  Everything else could be managed, *if* you have enough energy, but getting the energy seems the limiting problem.

Can't emphasize this enough.  Mars has the upper hand in anything related to availability of physical resources, but power is the limiting factor, and solar power on Mars is weak. 

So either they can make solar panels, on Mars, at a very low energy cost (this has proven a tough trick on Earth, and required very large scale manufacturing) or they'll end up with nuclear.

For a polar moon base, it's exactly the opposite. Everything is incredibly hard - except for power.  Reminds me of Clarke's concept of Mercury being the most powerful planet in the Solar System since they have the most power.

I think at the end of the day, power on Mars will be easier to solve than everything-else on the moon, but it remains to be seen. 

I might actually get to see it, too!
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Online meekGee

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On second thought, the Austro-Hungarian empire could have built a nuclear reactor, if they knew what to do.   To make and maintain one of these, you need the ability to mine and purify carbon and uranium, and the rest is pretty simple mechanical engineering.   
The Germans tried and failed to build a reactor with Graphite in WWII. Their Graphite was contaminated with Boron and the either did not not have, or did not know they needed a process to remove enough of it to let the reaction go critical.

And then you're going to need a coal mine on Mars for the source of the Graphite.
There is likely no coal on Mars (it's from old biology), so I was assuming that they would get the graphite from CO2 in the atmosphere.  This should also have no appreciable boron or other contamination.  I'm more worried about the uranium supply.

For both Mars and Moon, and industrial chemical ecosystem based on ISRU is exactly the reverse of the one that exists on Earth.

Here, we extract complex, unpure materials from the ground, and spend a lot of time and energy distilling and purifying them.

In an ISRU system, we start from the most basic of feedstock material, and very methodically react them downward, to create what we need.

The Graphite was a perfect example, but you can also look at the petro-chemical industry for the same effect.

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Offline savuporo

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There are many items that have fixed costs no matter the LV size.
.. such as? Which fixed costs are similar between Pegasus, Dnepr and Atlas V?
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

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