Author Topic: Jeff Bezos believes in space as an industrial park, but not as a backup  (Read 18861 times)

Offline 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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Offline 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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