Author Topic: Why Space?  (Read 31519 times)

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Why Space?
« on: 02/17/2011 05:30 PM »
Why space?  What will motivate us to get off this rock?  A lot of people talk grandly about extinction threats and the survival of humanity, but how is that going to affect me today, tomorrow or next week?

There's lots of engineer's on here drawing up very cool machines to get there, and in one of those threads someone started asking about a mission to get people behind their rocket.  It made me realize that Sir Edmund Hillary's answer Because it is there is not an answer around which to build a sustainable future of human space exploration, exploitation and population.

While core science will always have a place, and planetary protection is important, I think where we need to look is economics.  We need to find a compelling good or service that can be made available more cheaply than from terrestrial options via human-robust space resources.  Commercial space needs to be about more than just cheap global communications and Space Tourism.

We need to find the 'space goldrush material'.  Once we have that, then all our pipe-dreams have the potential to come true.  Until we have that, however, we remain at the mercy of public policy.

We have lots of brainpower here.  With government bowing out of human launch services, it is time we started coming up with our elevator speeches to get folks like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to loosen their purse strings.  What makes humans in space pay off for the investor?
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Online Jim Davis

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 533
  • Liked: 99
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #1 on: 02/17/2011 05:42 PM »
...it is time we started coming up with our elevator speeches to get folks like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to loosen their purse strings. 

Well, that's just the problem. All space advocates have are elevator speeches. Guys like Gates and Buffett want detailed business plans, not elevator speeches. That's just what space advocates don't have.

Offline Downix

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7087
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #2 on: 02/17/2011 05:51 PM »
...it is time we started coming up with our elevator speeches to get folks like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to loosen their purse strings. 

Well, that's just the problem. All space advocates have are elevator speeches. Guys like Gates and Buffett want detailed business plans, not elevator speeches. That's just what space advocates don't have.
I do, but not the track record.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #3 on: 02/17/2011 06:06 PM »
Before we get bogged down in the mechanics and the semantics of convincing investors, we need to know what we are convincing them to invest in.

For example, I can envision a time not too far off (hopefully) where Bigelow has been successful in populating Earth orbit with a number of space stations.  These stations will need supplies.  The most costly supplies to haul there are station consumeables like air, water and thruster fuels.

In this environment, I could picture a business plan being developed around man tended asteroid mining.  (Robotic/teleoperated mining with human maintenance of the equipment on site.)  Recovered volatiles, and other materials, would be returned to a station at an Earth-Moon Lagrange point for refinement and distribution.

The problem is that this plan presupposes a vital human presence already existing in the Earth/Moon system.  Also, this plan only serves initially to provide resources to orbital stations and only pays back in valuable Earth downmass on an accidental basis (Ooo, I found a diamond on this C-asteroid.)

What might bridge us from where we are now to this point?

Some possible conversation starters:
Zero G/Controlled G Biomedical research and production
Space tourism (ie Lunar Cruises)

(and here we come to the rub... what else is there?  What excites the folks with money to do this for more than altruistic reasons?)
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline Danny Dot

  • Rocket Scientist, NOT Retired
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2791
  • Houston, Texas
  • Liked: 15
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #4 on: 02/17/2011 06:59 PM »

Well, that's just the problem. All space advocates have are elevator speeches. Guys like Gates and Buffett want detailed business plans, not elevator speeches. That's just what space advocates don't have.

The only business model for manned space I know of is tourism.
Danny Deger

Offline mr. mark

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1994
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #5 on: 02/17/2011 07:13 PM »
Humanity may be the business of the future. Mainly, getting humanity off the Earth to the Moon and Mars. The big business of the future may be the human overpopulation of the Earth. As the Earth's human population continues to increase and decimate the environment, it will become impossible to sustain itself. Moving mass populations off the Earth may be future big business. There's only two choices, enforced population controls or moving people off the planet or possibly a combination of both. I for one have done my part and chosen not to have children. I wish others would be brave enough to do the same. This planet is becoming a mess with lack of environmental planning in highly populated urban areas and using outdated fuels.
« Last Edit: 02/17/2011 07:28 PM by mr. mark »

Online Jim Davis

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 533
  • Liked: 99
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #6 on: 02/17/2011 07:36 PM »
Well, that's just the problem. All space advocates have are elevator speeches. Guys like Gates and Buffett want detailed business plans, not elevator speeches. That's just what space advocates don't have.
I do, but not the track record.

Don't tease like that. What market does your business plan serve?

Offline synchrotron

  • Member
  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 299
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 13
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #7 on: 02/17/2011 07:50 PM »
Humanity may be the business of the future. Mainly, getting humanity off the Earth to the Moon and Mars. The big business of the future may be the human overpopulation of the Earth. As the Earth's human population continues to increase and decimate the environment, it will become impossible to sustain itself. Moving mass populations off the Earth may be future big business. There's only two choices, enforced population controls or moving people off the planet or possibly a combination of both. I for one have done my part and chosen not to have children. I wish others would be brave enough to do the same. This planet is becoming a mess with lack of environmental planning in highly populated urban areas and using outdated fuels.

From: http://lightbucket.wordpress.com/2008/04/21/the-population-bomb-fizzled-out-in-1989/

Offline SpacexULA

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1756
  • Liked: 46
  • Likes Given: 73
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #8 on: 02/17/2011 08:05 PM »
Humanity may be the business of the future. Mainly, getting humanity off the Earth to the Moon and Mars. The big business of the future may be the human overpopulation of the Earth. As the Earth's human population continues to increase and decimate the environment, it will become impossible to sustain itself. Moving mass populations off the Earth may be future big business. There's only two choices, enforced population controls or moving people off the planet or possibly a combination of both. I for one have done my part and chosen not to have children. I wish others would be brave enough to do the same. This planet is becoming a mess with lack of environmental planning in highly populated urban areas and using outdated fuels.

From: http://lightbucket.wordpress.com/2008/04/21/the-population-bomb-fizzled-out-in-1989/

And so many projections of what the world would look like now made back in the 1970s where dead on.

We don't have a clue what the worlds going to look like in 2050, anyone that tells you they do have an idea they are trying to sell you.
« Last Edit: 02/17/2011 08:05 PM by SpacexULA »
No Bucks no Buck Rogers, but at least Flexible path gets you Twiki.

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #9 on: 02/17/2011 08:09 PM »
Gotta love scope creep! :D

So, doom and gloom says we have to 'abandon planet' (women and children first).

How about a positive idea?
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline majormajor42

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 525
  • Liked: 43
  • Likes Given: 221
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #10 on: 02/17/2011 08:16 PM »
Yeah, I was also going to say that world population growth rates are slowing down.  Where will we max out?  9 Billion???  But certainly not enough for me to think that I'm doing the planet a favor by not having children.  You would really have to sell me on that one.  I'm looking forward to parenting and hopefully raising a little space explorer if I have any say in it (which I really don't).

anyway.  For me "Why Space" just comes down to "Progress".  Progress of humanity.  But that's me.  I don't constantly put myself in competition with other people and kinda have an attitude that we are all in this together.  So I find Progress of Humanity as a whole rewarding to my own life.  I certainly don't speak for most people however.

Elon Musk has said that he wants to colonize space.  He has said that he puts this goal above large profits.  I'm sure he needs some profits for his investors but within reason.  He says this.  I actually believe him.

But for those that really really want to make money, lots of money, I have no idea when that will happen.  I kinda hope it doesn't.  Then we'll have people like the antagonist character in Avatar (forget that actor's name) pushing for quarterly profits and all that. 

Guess we are hoping for more guys like Elon to take things into their own hands.  Mark Zuckerburg might be interested.  He's a young guy too and might get bored with facebook in another decade or two.
« Last Edit: 02/18/2011 10:52 AM by majormajor42 »
...water is life and it is out there, where we intend to go. I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man or machine on a body such as the Moon and harvest a cup of water for a human to drink or process into fuel for their craft.

Offline Downix

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7087
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #11 on: 02/17/2011 08:45 PM »
Well, that's just the problem. All space advocates have are elevator speeches. Guys like Gates and Buffett want detailed business plans, not elevator speeches. That's just what space advocates don't have.
I do, but not the track record.

Don't tease like that. What market does your business plan serve?
That is thinking too narrow, and narrow thinking makes weak businesses. The key is not which market you serve, but which market they serve, which is virtually all.

My goal is to be simple. No grand schemes or novelties. A simple supply chain development, raw resource collection. Aka: mining. Studying the tightening raw goods market, there is not enough supply to meet demand. If there are not enough goods here, there is but one alternative. If raw material growth stops, the economy can no longer function. So whomever captures the supply controls the whole chain.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline blasphemer

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 103
  • Slovakia
  • Liked: 35
  • Likes Given: 236
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #12 on: 02/17/2011 08:48 PM »
The whole overpopulation argument for space is absurd, IMHO. Africa would be colonizing the moons of Saturn by now if it had any merit.

Overpopulation will be solved either by spontaneous growth reduction (already happening), population control (like in China) or famines, diseases and wars (also already happening). Exodus of large number of people into space is simply not realistic.

So why space? Let me reply with the words of british Everest climber George Mallory: "Because it's there"

Space tourism and advanced technologies stemming from space exploration may pay for some of the costs, but unless access to space gets radically cheaper, I am skeptical about any direct profits to be made.

Online Jim Davis

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 533
  • Liked: 99
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #13 on: 02/17/2011 09:35 PM »
My goal is to be simple. No grand schemes or novelties. A simple supply chain development, raw resource collection. Aka: mining. Studying the tightening raw goods market, there is not enough supply to meet demand. If there are not enough goods here, there is but one alternative. If raw material growth stops, the economy can no longer function. So whomever captures the supply controls the whole chain.

Let me see if I follow you.

You claim to have a business plan that proposes mining raw materials from extraterrestrial sources and that this business plan has a return on investment that will be attractive to the Gateses and Buffets of the world.

Is that a fair summary?

Offline Downix

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7087
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #14 on: 02/17/2011 09:38 PM »
My goal is to be simple. No grand schemes or novelties. A simple supply chain development, raw resource collection. Aka: mining. Studying the tightening raw goods market, there is not enough supply to meet demand. If there are not enough goods here, there is but one alternative. If raw material growth stops, the economy can no longer function. So whomever captures the supply controls the whole chain.

Let me see if I follow you.

You claim to have a business plan that proposes mining raw materials from extraterrestrial sources and that this business plan has a return on investment that will be attractive to the Gateses and Buffets of the world.

Is that a fair summary?
Effectively.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline Joris

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 348
  • Liked: 19
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #15 on: 02/17/2011 10:02 PM »

Well, that's just the problem. All space advocates have are elevator speeches. Guys like Gates and Buffett want detailed business plans, not elevator speeches. That's just what space advocates don't have.

The only business model for manned space I know of is tourism.

True, but let's all hope that Helium-3 shall one day be needed for fusion-power.
JIMO would have been the first proper spaceship.

Offline SpacexULA

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1756
  • Liked: 46
  • Likes Given: 73
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #16 on: 02/17/2011 10:08 PM »
My goal is to be simple. No grand schemes or novelties. A simple supply chain development, raw resource collection. Aka: mining. Studying the tightening raw goods market, there is not enough supply to meet demand. If there are not enough goods here, there is but one alternative. If raw material growth stops, the economy can no longer function. So whomever captures the supply controls the whole chain.

Did you know there are zero under water ore mines?  No coper, iron, urinium, plutonium, gold, ANYTHING besides oil has been mined in water deeper than 10 feet?

That's 2/3 of the surface area of the earth untapped, and extracting ore from 1/4 mile under water will be cheaper/easier/safer for humanity than any space mining that's within the realm of our lifetime.

Again, if there was processed gold delivered my aliens to LEO, it would arguably no be profitable to launch the shuttle to retrieve it.
« Last Edit: 02/17/2011 10:09 PM by SpacexULA »
No Bucks no Buck Rogers, but at least Flexible path gets you Twiki.

Offline tigerade

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 718
  • Low Earth Orbit
  • Liked: 50
  • Likes Given: 36
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #17 on: 02/17/2011 10:12 PM »
I have been asking myself this same question lately.  How can we justify space exploration?  It's hugely expensive, without much return, if any.  Any human expansion to Mars is going to be dependent on resupply from Eartlh, ISRU has it's limits.  Who's to say that people can live their whole lives not seeing an ocean, trees, a blue sky?  Who can spend their whole lives in a capsule or space suit?  I don't really have these answers right now, but would be interested in getting them.   

Offline Downix

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7087
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #18 on: 02/17/2011 10:16 PM »
My goal is to be simple. No grand schemes or novelties. A simple supply chain development, raw resource collection. Aka: mining. Studying the tightening raw goods market, there is not enough supply to meet demand. If there are not enough goods here, there is but one alternative. If raw material growth stops, the economy can no longer function. So whomever captures the supply controls the whole chain.

Did you know there are zero under water ore mines?  No coper, iron, urinium, plutonium, gold, ANYTHING besides oil has been mined in water deeper than 10 feet?

That's 2/3 of the surface area of the earth untapped, and extracting ore from 1/4 mile under water will be cheaper/easier/safer for humanity than any space mining that's within the realm of our lifetime.

Again, if there was processed gold delivered my aliens to LEO, it would arguably no be profitable to launch the shuttle to retrieve it.
It depends on how you do it. The environmental impact and regulations tip in different ways.

The technologies needed vs the payoff also tilts it my way.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline scienceguy

  • Regular
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 749
  • Lethbridge, Alberta
  • Liked: 65
  • Likes Given: 119
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #19 on: 02/17/2011 10:18 PM »
Say sometime in the future helium-3 fusion is developed, and say, at 40% efficiency we are converting helium-3 fusion directly into electricity.
Helium-3 is $10 000 a liter, and right now electricity is about 3 cents per kilowatt hour.

http://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/siteshared/demand_price.asp?sid=ic

The 3He + 3He -> 4He + 2p reaction releases about 12 MeV. At 40% efficiency, you are getting 4.8 MeV per reaction.

4.8 MeV = 4.8 x 10^6 eV. 4.8 x 10^6 eV x 1.6 x 10^-19 J/eV = 7.7 x 10^-13 J/reaction.

1 kWh = 3.6 x 10^6 J

To generate 1 kWh, you would need
3.6 x 10^6 J/7.7 x 10^-13 J/reaction = 4.7 x 10^18 reactions.

This amounts to twice that in molecules, or 9.4 x 10^18 molecules.

1 liter of helium-3 is 22.4 L/mol at standard temperature and pressure.

9.4 x 10^18 molecules / 6.02 x 10^23 molecules/mol = 1.6 x 10^-5 mol of helium-3 for 1 kWh of electricity.

This amounts to 22.4 L/mol x 1.6 x 10^-5 mol = 3.5 x 10^-4 L.

At $10 000 per liter, this would cost $10 000/L x 3.5 x 10^-4 L = $3.5 per liter.

Thus, this is 100 times more expensive than conventional electricity, but it would be clean and non-polluting electricity. And, donít forget, helium-3 is this expensive because it is sparse on Earth, made from tritium decay.

Conceivably this could be cheaper if there was an infrastructure set up to mine helium-3 from the moon (or the gas giants!)
e^(pi*i) = -1

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #20 on: 02/17/2011 10:37 PM »
Indeed! 

I have read my John S. Lewis - Mining the Sky!

Unfortunately, practical electrical generating fusion power is about 20 years away...  Of course it was 20 years away in 1980, 1990, and 2000 too.  Makes me wonder if we're all going to wake up one day and find out that the 'fusion economy' has been running behind our backs for 60 years.

I like Downix's business focus, however I think he's starting at the wrong end of the spectrum, targeting Earth resource markets.  I'd start with an area we know we could beat Terrestrial pricing, and that is volatiles for use in space.  I'd stockpile the raw materials at an EML pending a use for them, either in space or for dirtside export.
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline Downix

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7087
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #21 on: 02/17/2011 10:51 PM »
Indeed! 

I have read my John S. Lewis - Mining the Sky!

Unfortunately, practical electrical generating fusion power is about 20 years away...  Of course it was 20 years away in 1980, 1990, and 2000 too.  Makes me wonder if we're all going to wake up one day and find out that the 'fusion economy' has been running behind our backs for 60 years.

I like Downix's business focus, however I think he's starting at the wrong end of the spectrum, targeting Earth resource markets.  I'd start with an area we know we could beat Terrestrial pricing, and that is volatiles for use in space.  I'd stockpile the raw materials at an EML pending a use for them, either in space or for dirtside export.
I would be doing both. A single metal asteroid has multiple revenue streams. Think of a cow. A single bovine has thousands of revenue streams, from a hamburger to cosmetics. The goal is, Process and segment to need. A single 400m wide rock may have 15 tons of volatiles, but also 8 tons of commodity metal. Send the metal earthward for quick revenue while getting the volatiles ready.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Online Jim Davis

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 533
  • Liked: 99
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #22 on: 02/17/2011 11:04 PM »

Quote
Let me see if I follow you.

You claim to have a business plan that proposes mining raw materials from extraterrestrial sources and that this business plan has a return on investment that will be attractive to the Gateses and Buffets of the world.

Is that a fair summary?

Effectively.

Great. A few questions:

1. Roughly how many hours did it take you to come up with this business plan?

2. Has this business plan been reviewed by professional consultants?

3. Roughly how many potential investors a year are presented with this business plan?

4. Roughly how many hours per year do you spend in pitching this business plan to investors including travel time, etc.?

5. Roughly how much money per year do you spend in pitching this business plan to investors including travel expenses, etc.?

Thanks.

Offline DLR

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 497
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #23 on: 02/17/2011 11:21 PM »
"Business Plans" won't open up space.

It has to be done by the government or non-profit organzations. Only once access costs to space have dropped and the exploitation of space resources has been demonstrated, private capital will follow in search for business opportunities.


At the moment it's all politics. Space advocates need to try to put space exploration high on the national political agenda.

Offline Downix

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7087
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #24 on: 02/17/2011 11:23 PM »

Quote
Let me see if I follow you.

You claim to have a business plan that proposes mining raw materials from extraterrestrial sources and that this business plan has a return on investment that will be attractive to the Gateses and Buffets of the world.

Is that a fair summary?

Effectively.

Great. A few questions:

1. Roughly how many hours did it take you to come up with this business plan?
About 800
Quote

2. Has this business plan been reviewed by professional consultants?
Multiple.
Quote
3. Roughly how many potential investors a year are presented with this business plan?

4. Roughly how many hours per year do you spend in pitching this business plan to investors including travel time, etc.?

5. Roughly how much money per year do you spend in pitching this business plan to investors including travel expenses, etc.?

Thanks.
0, as it is not ready. You make the pitch when your ducks are in a row. Right now, still too much uncertainty with the key technologies. By my estimate, still will not be time until well into next year. I am personally confident, but I always ask myself if I were an investor what demonstration capacity needs to be out there. It is 70% there, but I don't operate with single source technologies, gotten burned before by that.

*edit* to explain, I have worked for, and started, several startups over the years. I have seen how a single oversight, a rush to market, can destroy everything. Google "Genesi Pegasos" sometime if you want to sort through one of those ventures, and know that what is in the public is but the tip of the iceberg.
« Last Edit: 02/18/2011 12:15 AM by Downix »
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #25 on: 02/18/2011 12:26 AM »
He-3 is a no-go.

As far as having room to put all the billions of people, remember that there are no cities on Baffin Island (like Mars, but easier to breathe).

There might be a case for mining minerals like Downix suggested. Our nickel mines come from meteor strikes (at least partly).

Energy has a marginal case for it, but nothing I'd bet much money on. Transporting the energy to Earth is the biggest problem, I see.

I think one of the biggest issues is self-sufficiency. And for that, we need to learn how to thrive in a micro-economy... not just survive. Right now, the stuff used to make end-products often travels the globe multiple times and involves untold numbers of people. In order for a colony on Mars to persist, it must be almost entirely self-sufficient. We will need to figure out how to live and work with modern tools using an economy measured in fewer than a thousand working individuals. I think that's actually possible. Here's a group of folks trying to do just that (actually, the economy size they are shooting for is probably more like a few hundred): http://openfarmtech.org/weblog/
They've already made a few open-source tractors (multiple versions, focusing on hydraulics and interchangeable power sources), open-source hydraulic-powered compressed-earth brick machines (for making building materials right at the site of the building) which they are selling to those who want to buy, many different implements for their tractor, biodiesel production, an open-source ironworking machine (punching holes in thick metal plate, for instance), an open-source torch table (etc), and other things.

They are currently working on open-source metal-working machines for melting down scrap steel and turning it into stock and plate and wire via rolling machines, solar-thermal steam generator (they've tried many things, found some things that work and some that don't), open-source lathe and metal pouring equipment (for making open-source hydraulic motors and valves and steam engines from the steel stock), bioplastic production and injection for making greenhouse panels, an open-source well-drilling kit, open-source batteries, eventual production of aluminum from clay (based on technology used for aluminum production from lunar regolith, actually) and more.


They've done just as much work on the agricultural side of things with learning fruit tree grafting techniques, hydroponics, chick hatchery, etc.
Plus they have a rep-rap.

These guys are serious folk who now have some real funding and have actually produced some real things. They are trying to actually live and work with the things that they produce, thus injecting pragmatism and continual improvement. They seem to have real skills in actually designing and making things that are practical.

One of the things which really struck me is how important it is but still very difficult to find a useful power source. Solar-thermal is very difficult for them to make themselves and it doesn't solve the energy storage problem (well, there are ways to do it, but it's hard). One of the most practical ways to produce power seems to be from biological sources, whether biodiesel or especially (in my research) biomass. It seems doubtful to me that Martian colonists would be able to grow enough plants to also provide bio-energy in addition to food. And photovoltaics, although rather high-tech (and therefore difficult to be able to produce on a small-scale) provide a lot of power for not a lot of space and not nearly as much complexity (once manufactured)...

I'm betting the first thing colonists will want to look for is sources of geothermal energy (or "areothermal" on Mars). Another possibility is a deposit of some sort of mineral which can be "burned" or otherwise reacted catalytically to produce energy. At least until the colony can be large enough to more easily produce photovoltaics and batteries (or some sort of energy storage) or even nuclear power from local materials.
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 A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8380
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 306
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #26 on: 02/18/2011 12:58 AM »
{snip}
These guys are serious folk who now have some real funding and have actually produced some real things. They are trying to actually live and work with the things that they produce, thus injecting pragmatism and continual improvement. They seem to have real skills in actually designing and making things that are practical.

One of the things which really struck me is how important it is but still very difficult to find a useful power source. Solar-thermal is very difficult for them to make themselves and it doesn't solve the energy storage problem (well, there are ways to do it, but it's hard). One of the most practical ways to produce power seems to be from biological sources, whether biodiesel or especially (in my research) biomass. It seems doubtful to me that Martian colonists would be able to grow enough plants to also provide bio-energy in addition to food. And photovoltaics, although rather high-tech (and therefore difficult to be able to produce on a small-scale) provide a lot of power for not a lot of space and not nearly as much complexity (once manufactured)...

If they are static with plenty of space then they can use a static solar collector.  The low efficiency simply means that the collector has to be big (and heavy).  There may get a few ideas from this design.
http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/Pubs/TechRpts/2007/EECS-2007-172.pdf

Quote
I'm betting the first thing colonists will want to look for is sources of geothermal energy (or "areothermal" on Mars). Another possibility is a deposit of some sort of mineral which can be "burned" or otherwise reacted catalytically to produce energy. At least until the colony can be large enough to more easily produce photovoltaics and batteries (or some sort of energy storage) or even nuclear power from local materials.

On Mars burn an alkali metal or magnesium.
 Mg + CO2 = MgO + CO

They can use the same design of Stirling engine as the solar dynamic power plant.

Offline Namechange User

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7301
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #27 on: 02/18/2011 01:37 AM »
Babylon 5, Season 1, "Infection"

Quote
Mary Ann Cramer (Reporter): I have to ask you the same question people back home are asking about space these days. Is it worth it? Should we just pull back? Forget the whole thing as a bad idea, and take care of our own problems, at home.

Cmdr. Jeffrey Sinclair: No. We have to stay here. And there's a simple reason why. Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics, and you'll get ten different answers, but there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us. It'll take Marilyn Monroe, and Lao-Tzu, and Einstein, and Morobuto, and Buddy Holly, and Aristophanes, and - all of this - all of this - was for nothing. Unless we go to the stars.

Enough said.
Enjoying viewing the forum a little better now by filtering certain users.

Offline Bill White

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2019
  • Chicago area
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #28 on: 02/18/2011 01:52 AM »
The reasons for settling space are existential, not utilitarian.

It is not about what we will find by going "out there" it is about what we will become (as a species) by going out there, successfully, and staying. Essentially forever.
EML architectures should be seen as ratchet opportunities

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #29 on: 02/18/2011 02:40 AM »
OV-106 and Bill White,

Uh, guys, I'm the choir here.  The problem with that position is that it leaves us at the mercy of public policy makers.

We need to face the fact that, as excited as we all are, we are a distinct minority when it comes time to line up for funding.  This means we need to find something that truly resonates with the general populace.  Apollo resonated, not so much because it was space, but because we saw, in NASCAR parlance, the checkered flag in our race with the Soviets.  We need no more proof of this than to look at how quickly Apollo was dismantled once we had a successful landing.

To my way of looking at it, the pocketbook is what resonates with the populace.  Does it give me a job?  Does it make my life better?  Will it support me in my old age?

Space is a child.  When we first thought of space, like newlyweds contemplating children, we assigned all kinds of impossible dreams to them.  They were all going to be Doctors... Space was going to solve all of our problems.

The child came along, and there was this time of wonder at this new life we created.  Then we hit the terrible twos, and we were both working two jobs with grandma sitting the kid... NASA's budgets got slashed and all the big plans had to be postponed... then cancelled, because as far as the public was concerned, the race was over.

Now, Space is in 10th grade, and it is time to start looking at colleges.  Space has to figure out what it wants to be that will support its parents in their old age... and, of course, it has spent the last ten years of schooling frittering away in the back of the class with its buddies, staring at the girls instead of actually learning anything...  So being a Nobel Laureate Doctor is highly unlikely.  But it can still be a productive and useful individual.

So yes, I do agree with both of you, but then, I'm one of you.  A certified space nut (macadamia, if you must know).  We've spent 40 years trying to sell the public on space exploration for the sake of our great great great great great (ad infinitum) grandchildren. 

Well, Star Trek got canceled.  In its place we have WWE Raw and sitcoms.  We are at the mercy of the Beer, Pizza and Bowling crowd.  How do we excite them?

"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline gospacex

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3028
  • Liked: 536
  • Likes Given: 604
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #30 on: 02/18/2011 07:43 AM »
My goal is to be simple. No grand schemes or novelties. A simple supply chain development, raw resource collection. Aka: mining. Studying the tightening raw goods market, there is not enough supply to meet demand. If there are not enough goods here, there is but one alternative. If raw material growth stops, the economy can no longer function. So whomever captures the supply controls the whole chain.

Did you know there are zero under water ore mines?  No coper, iron, urinium,

I am not sure I want to know the answer to "what is urinium?"... ;)

Quote
plutonium, gold, ANYTHING besides oil has been mined in water deeper than 10 feet?

That's 2/3 of the surface area of the earth untapped, and extracting ore from 1/4 mile under water will be cheaper/easier/safer for humanity than any space mining that's within the realm of our lifetime.

Again, if there was processed gold delivered my aliens to LEO, it would arguably no be profitable to launch the shuttle to retrieve it.

Because Shuttle is way too expensive.

Offline gospacex

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3028
  • Liked: 536
  • Likes Given: 604
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #31 on: 02/18/2011 07:45 AM »
I have been asking myself this same question lately.  How can we justify space exploration?  It's hugely expensive, without much return, if any.  Any human expansion to Mars is going to be dependent on resupply from Eartlh, ISRU has it's limits.

We have ISRU on Earth. It works.

Quote
Who's to say that people can live their whole lives not seeing an ocean, trees, a blue sky? Who can spend their whole lives in a capsule or space suit?

Prison inmates prove they can. A number of dictators around the world contribute to space development by conducting long-term experiments on humans in confined spaces.

Offline gospacex

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3028
  • Liked: 536
  • Likes Given: 604
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #32 on: 02/18/2011 07:51 AM »
OV-106 and Bill White,

Uh, guys, I'm the choir here.  The problem with that position is that it leaves us at the mercy of public policy makers.

Not really. Public policy makers can't stop Musk and Bigelow from launching stuff and people to space. Public policy makers can't stop people from going to space in Musk's capsules to Bigelow stations. (And if in reality it will not be Musk but Orbital or Boeing, I won't complain either).

Quote
Well, Star Trek got canceled.  In its place we have WWE Raw and sitcoms.  We are at the mercy of the Beer, Pizza and Bowling crowd.  How do we excite them?

Screw them. Meek can inherit the Earth. We are going to the stars.

Offline aquanaut99

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1042
  • Liked: 14
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #33 on: 02/18/2011 08:15 AM »
Not really. Public policy makers can't stop Musk and Bigelow from launching stuff and people to space. Public policy makers can't stop people from going to space in Musk's capsules to Bigelow stations.

True. However, environmental and other pressure groups as well as religious and other zealots could. Never undestimate the power of human stupidity...

I predict that if commercial space travel actually gets off and succeeds (in the sense that we see dozens of trips per year, and I'm not convinced that this will ever be the case), we will suddenly also see an explosion in the number of "studies" that "prove" the "harmful effects of space travel on..." (insert: environment, human health, psychic well-being, whatever).

Then, watch the fireworks.

Currently, space exploration is generally greeted with indifference and the occasional "waste of money" argument. Mainly because it is infrequent and a small matter. That may change if Musk and Co are sucessful.
« Last Edit: 02/18/2011 08:16 AM by aquanaut99 »

Offline Robert Thompson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1117
  • Liked: 82
  • Likes Given: 658
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #34 on: 02/18/2011 09:51 AM »
This post is expressly for structuring thought processes on how to immediately/near term engage the attention of an average person pulled from the median income group of industrialized society.

Categories of experience:
1. One-way Sensory input. In general, everyone enjoys experiences limited to one way sensory inputs, whether it's seeing an awesome Hubble pic on APOD, hearing a catchy tune, catching a whiff of a favorite craving. These are things that do not require motion or two-way communication because they are in themselves a complete experience.

2. Two-way Communication. Most everyone enjoys two-way communication between one or more participants. Conversation in person, email, telephone, video conferencing, chat rooms. Motion is unnecessary and it can be a complete experience. Online role playing like WOW falls into this category - it requires little motion but simulates action and offers chemical flux like adrenaline. In general, there is plenty to sense, but there may be cases of communication with very little sensation (Morse).

3. Movement and Acceleration. Some fraction of the average person enjoys low-risk sports and activities that get the body to enjoy the sensation of acceleration and forces, and chemical flux. Competitive ball/puck sports, snow and water skiing fit here. Inherently, there is plenty to see and communicate.

4. Some very small fraction enjoy high risk sports like sky diving, scuba diving, hang gliding, mountain climbing, auto/motorboat racing, martial arts, etc. These are experiences that use the body's full capacity to feel extremes of acceleration and forces, to feel chemical flux, to engage in high-stakes two-way communication with other participants, and to enjoy the one-way sensory inputs that go with visual, sonic, olfactory, tactile venue.

So these are things that average people inherently seek out to do, in order of commonness. How does this relate to space?

It is already common for an average person to have their fix of one-way sensory inputs from various websites like Facebook, cuteoverload, fark, etc. These resources can be appreciated on a basic level without two-way communication. But then if two-way communication is added in their forums and chat functions, the sensory content is given value-added meaning, and the experience is richer.

The number of those who attend to space content sites like this one, APOD, space.com, universetoday is probably low in comparison to the general population. The obvious conundrum is the perception that one cannot bootstrap or restore a national commitment to manned space without a culture of space awareness at the grass level.

Initial ideas:
A national cable channel that specifically treats space. (I'm not saying this will happen, I'm saying it is important to think of it as a possibility.)
Game shows with astronomical content. K12 being encouraged to "know your lunar and martian topography".
Lottery for trips to space meccas like JSC, Kennedy, NM, etc.
Lottery for trips on Vomit Comet.
Online roleplaying games based in space. NASA/Army Alpha Moonbase is a decent rudimentary trial experience to hint at the potential.
Kinesthetic roleplaying simulations based in space. Wii remotes giving feedback when you engage the attitude control thrusters.
Implementation of lunar and martian topography into accurate simulation environments in games.
Some kind of shooting match where students/amateurs are expected to be the first to accurately photograph with digital camera and telescope some feature of the moon.

Later generation ideas:
Base a Vomit Comet at NM space port. This would be the obvious substitute for Virgin Galactic. Group rates. Kids are half price. (Yeah, obviously this involves a lot of money.)
Get more and higher definition cameras onto satellites, with greater bandwidth or at least faster release of images to the public. The ideal would be live flyby of this satellite past that asteroid, in color hi def, or the non-stop eye-in-the-sky video from cameras on remote airplanes flying over Mars.
Put commercial rovers on the moon (e.g., named Google) and mars that obey client user commands who have paid some modest heap and are given so many hours at the controls. Will they graffiti Mars with the RAT? Maybe they should just remotely operate a hovering vehicle for their time slot.
In the same way that the globe has a sports organization that adjudicates between competing nations, there can be a global space / entrepreneurial sport organization that __Peacefully__ pits the best engineers form Russia, China, US, Canada, all comers, against each other in specific feats to demonstrate this or that on the moon or mars. Cash prize, free launches for a year, yearly subscription to an LH2 supplier?
Greed is a powerful ally.

I tend to think of the spectrum of human experience, as listed above, as broken into three main categories, modeling them on the inertial mass mobility of photons, electrons, and nucleons in a gravitational field.

1. The photon is massless, inertia-less, and obeys only space time curvature. Photons from deep space have been integrated by Hubble and conveyed to online databases to be conveniently viewed online. This corresponds to "One-way sensory input". It is the cheapest form of high technology, and has least overhead.

2. The electron has low inertia, much less than the nucleon. Back-and-forth communication by satellite requires repeated agitation of electrons, and is a slightly more expensive form of high technology. Let me roughly just say that if the Internet ("One-way") became mainstream in 1993, cell phones ("Two-way") became so a few years later. There is more overhead required in "Two-way Communication".

3. The proton and neutron have high inertia. The neutron has to be present in heavier nuclei to keep the peace among the protons. This means that accelerating the nuclei of a person is a substantial investment in energy. If they accelerate themselves, they burn off their lunch. In broader terms, getting a person into space requires accelerating all their protons, neutrons, and electrons. This is to be contrasted with the approximations or fidelities available in virtual kinds of environments, even if it is only a large LCD and headphones, of something like the same experience.

What I surmise here is that while everyone participates in the cheaper experiences 1 and 2, and must relegate completely to the imagination experiences 3 and 4,
there are potential sports / bodily activities that can be implemented on earth that better simulate the experience astronauts get to have. For instance, imagine a highly integrated VR experience in a suit or on an articulated seat spring harness environment that can pitch, roll, yaw. Sign a waver, join your friends, feel 1/6 or 1/3 g, get points for beating the other team by retrieving the right soil samples.

Of course the intent here is not to provide substitutes of experience that prevent the average person from getting the very real opportunity to be accelerated, nuclei and all, into very real LEO.
The intent here is to point a way towards carving out in the hearts and minds of a larger number of (median income) people the tangible, imaginable, visceral, succulent notion of such being actually possible - just beyond reach only if you're not stretching to your very last fiber.

Obviously this is all expensive, but ASCII and synapses are cheap, and you can monte carlo much truth out of very simple models.

I think Bigelow is doing the right thing, appealing to the inherent, human, inborn greed for comforts. He doesn't seek out the science available for the taking beyond what environment and safety engineering it requires to get some wealthy patrons in the door. These four categories of human experience are examples of comforts we are greedy for. They affirm us as individuals with taste or intellect, they affirm our tribes as loci of shared insight, they affirm the rugged physical life and echoes of evolutionary heritage. I think there is capacity in terrestrial technology to create an infrastructure or library of sensations, conversations and/or simulated experiences among the median incomes to (try to) catch the tail end of available opportunities trickling down from the usages of the wealthy.

Comments?

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #35 on: 02/18/2011 01:51 PM »
So in essence, you're saying that we, the space-loving community need to go viral.  Stop talking big and grand, and instead do something sneaky, like build a broadbased foundation of support through mundane means.

But instead of hit or miss as it is now, you want to see a structured and measureable approach.

It makes sense in the broader scheme. 

Alternatively, one could argue that we've failed to do this because you're more likely to win the mega-millions or powerball than to make the cut to become an astronaut.

As a kid growing up, I wanted to be an astronaut, in fact I still do, but I stopped talking about it while I was still in middle school.  Why?  Because the response I always got from the teachers was a smile or laugh followed by Okay, realistically, what do you want to be?  And this was the early 80's when the Shuttle was still exciting and there were teachers clamoring to fly!
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline JohnFornaro

  • Not an expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9161
  • Delta-t is the salient metric.
  • Planet Eaarth
    • Design / Program Associates
  • Liked: 617
  • Likes Given: 320
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #36 on: 02/18/2011 02:31 PM »
We have lots of brainpower here. 

Yes, but there's not a lot of gold or unobtanium up there.  Other than tourism, which can only foot a small percentage of the costs, there is not yet a viable economic model for colonization, etc.

Quote
For example, I can envision a time not too far off (hopefully) where Bigelow has been successful in populating Earth orbit with a number of space stations.

Yes, but the time needing the "envisioning" is the time between now and then.  The time for the business plan that you suggest has not yet come.  You realize this by your presupposition of a "vital human presence".

That chart of declining population growth rates is very misleading; the Earth's population is rising.  There is no definitive knowledge of what that stable upper population limit is, nor any notion of what the quality of human life will be at that upper limit.

Downix is right, I think.  Pull out your old copy of "De Re Metallica".  Minerals, mining, and manufacturing can be the only basis for a space economy.

Quote
If there was processed gold delivered my aliens to LEO, it would arguably no be profitable to launch the shuttle to retrieve it.

I'll go with the BOTE we did last year.  If the shuttle could go up and retrieve 20T of gold successfully, it would be a profitable enterprise.  The big problems are finding that gold, and then packaging it in that convenient pick up location.

He3 is not needed here on Earth in any large quantity.  I'm sure that equation up there is correct in many ways, but the necessary power plant is not existing, nor is the $10K/l price possible at the required quantities, nor is that price accurate for quantities retrieved from space.

As to fusion, I saw the tokamak reactor at the world's fair in 1964, when I learned that the commercialization of fusion would be realized by 1984.

Carry on, y'all.  Somebody ought to link the various other threads here which have touched on the "why".

BTW, it's not like I haven't commented on stuff like this:

It's true that political independence is way off in the future. 
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #37 on: 02/18/2011 04:01 PM »
So in essence, you're saying that we, the space-loving community need to go viral.  Stop talking big and grand, and instead do something sneaky, like build a broadbased foundation of support through mundane means.

But instead of hit or miss as it is now, you want to see a structured and measureable approach.

It makes sense in the broader scheme. 

Alternatively, one could argue that we've failed to do this because you're more likely to win the mega-millions or powerball than to make the cut to become an astronaut.

As a kid growing up, I wanted to be an astronaut, in fact I still do, but I stopped talking about it while I was still in middle school.  Why?  Because the response I always got from the teachers was a smile or laugh followed by Okay, realistically, what do you want to be?  And this was the early 80's when the Shuttle was still exciting and there were teachers clamoring to fly!
A bunch of ordinary folks, without much money, can make a positive and measurable contribution to space. The Friends of Amateur Rocketry is an excellent example:


As far as what religious zealots have to do with space... Remember that America was colonized by a combination of greed, poor conditions in Europe, and religious zealotry. I am not myself Mormon, but I've seen a few quite faithful Mormons (i.e. former missionaries... hi, Jon :) ) who very passionately pursue space exploration and the expansion of humanity into space. I'm not sure if this has much to do with Mormon theology (although there may be some themes there), but it certainly does seem to resonate with the early history of Mormonism and the settling of the American West. My main point is that it is short-sighted to say that religion will only play a negative role in human expansion into space.
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 Downix

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7087
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #38 on: 02/18/2011 04:57 PM »
We have lots of brainpower here. 

Yes, but there's not a lot of gold or unobtanium up there. 
False, there is more up there than here. One recorded NEO has several trillion US$ in Gold and Platinum.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #39 on: 02/18/2011 05:25 PM »
We have lots of brainpower here. 

Yes, but there's not a lot of gold or unobtanium up there. 
False, there is more up there than here. One recorded NEO has several trillion US$ in Gold and Platinum.
What's the quality of the ore? Is it worth bringing down without first refining it?
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 Downix

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7087
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #40 on: 02/18/2011 05:55 PM »
We have lots of brainpower here. 

Yes, but there's not a lot of gold or unobtanium up there. 
False, there is more up there than here. One recorded NEO has several trillion US$ in Gold and Platinum.
What's the quality of the ore? Is it worth bringing down without first refining it?
That the 100 trillion $$ question.

Waiting for final results from Hayabusa.
« Last Edit: 02/18/2011 06:12 PM by Downix »
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline synchrotron

  • Member
  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 299
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 13
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #41 on: 02/18/2011 06:40 PM »
Quote
If there was processed gold delivered my aliens to LEO, it would arguably no be profitable to launch the shuttle to retrieve it.

I'll go with the BOTE we did last year.  If the shuttle could go up and retrieve 20T of gold successfully, it would be a profitable enterprise.  The big problems are finding that gold, and then packaging it in that convenient pick up location.

Surely your BOTE showed that the market value was less than $900M.  Ignoring the mining, refinement, and transport costs to LEO, as you've pointed out.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #42 on: 02/18/2011 06:46 PM »
Quote
If there was processed gold delivered my aliens to LEO, it would arguably no be profitable to launch the shuttle to retrieve it.

I'll go with the BOTE we did last year.  If the shuttle could go up and retrieve 20T of gold successfully, it would be a profitable enterprise.  The big problems are finding that gold, and then packaging it in that convenient pick up location.

Surely your BOTE showed that the market value was less than $900M.  Ignoring the mining, refinement, and transport costs to LEO, as you've pointed out.

The incremental costs of a Shuttle mission are somewhere around $300 million. If you include the VAB and everything with a low flight rate, $900 million may be about right. It really depends on the situation.
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

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #43 on: 02/18/2011 07:04 PM »
So the gist of the conversation so far is that uses for space that will enable us to fund the launch systems necessary to get there are as follows:

Communication (done in spades - Space's one true commercial success.)
Tourism

And that these two above enable the following potentials to develop slowly:

In Space Resource Utilization (volatiles return)

Leading to Space Resource Utilization on Earth


To the above, I would like to add, for conversational purposes, satellite refurbishment and salvage.

So, what else can we add to Communications and Tourism to make the first section more robust?
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline Downix

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7087
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #44 on: 02/18/2011 07:12 PM »
So the gist of the conversation so far is that uses for space that will enable us to fund the launch systems necessary to get there are as follows:

Communication (done in spades - Space's one true commercial success.)
Tourism

And that these two above enable the following potentials to develop slowly:

In Space Resource Utilization (volatiles return)

Leading to Space Resource Utilization on Earth


To the above, I would like to add, for conversational purposes, satellite refurbishment and salvage.

So, what else can we add to Communications and Tourism to make the first section more robust?
Look to history. New areas, explorers, then communications, then curious. Next step is resource capture.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline synchrotron

  • Member
  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 299
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 13
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #45 on: 02/18/2011 07:26 PM »
So the gist of the conversation so far is that uses for space that will enable us to fund the launch systems necessary to get there are as follows:
Communication (done in spades - Space's one true commercial success.)
Tourism

And that these two above enable the following potentials to develop slowly:
In Space Resource Utilization (volatiles return)
Leading to Space Resource Utilization on Earth

To the above, I would like to add, for conversational purposes, satellite refurbishment and salvage.
So, what else can we add to Communications and Tourism to make the first section more robust?
Look to history. New areas, explorers, then communications, then curious. Next step is resource capture.
History didn't document the exponential function in the Tsiolkovsky equation in previous frontier exploration and exploitation.

Offline synchrotron

  • Member
  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 299
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 13
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #46 on: 02/18/2011 07:32 PM »
Quote
If there was processed gold delivered my aliens to LEO, it would arguably no be profitable to launch the shuttle to retrieve it.

I'll go with the BOTE we did last year.  If the shuttle could go up and retrieve 20T of gold successfully, it would be a profitable enterprise.  The big problems are finding that gold, and then packaging it in that convenient pick up location.

Surely your BOTE showed that the market value was less than $900M.  Ignoring the mining, refinement, and transport costs to LEO, as you've pointed out.

The incremental costs of a Shuttle mission are somewhere around $300 million. If you include the VAB and everything with a low flight rate, $900 million may be about right. It really depends on the situation.
I think a better low flight rate cost is 50% higher than that estimate. USA is offering to fly two missions commercially a year for the low low price of $1.5B.

Edit: The USA proposed price is still higher than the value 14.5 MT of refined gold.  Which was the mass of a heavy SpaceLab or SpaceHab.  I now await correction of my downmass estimate from other readers.
« Last Edit: 02/18/2011 07:34 PM by synchrotron »

Offline Downix

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7087
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #47 on: 02/18/2011 07:51 PM »
Quote
If there was processed gold delivered my aliens to LEO, it would arguably no be profitable to launch the shuttle to retrieve it.

I'll go with the BOTE we did last year.  If the shuttle could go up and retrieve 20T of gold successfully, it would be a profitable enterprise.  The big problems are finding that gold, and then packaging it in that convenient pick up location.

Surely your BOTE showed that the market value was less than $900M.  Ignoring the mining, refinement, and transport costs to LEO, as you've pointed out.

The incremental costs of a Shuttle mission are somewhere around $300 million. If you include the VAB and everything with a low flight rate, $900 million may be about right. It really depends on the situation.
I think a better low flight rate cost is 50% higher than that estimate. USA is offering to fly two missions commercially a year for the low low price of $1.5B.

Edit: The USA proposed price is still higher than the value 14.5 MT of refined gold.  Which was the mass of a heavy SpaceLab or SpaceHab.  I now await correction of my downmass estimate from other readers.

lets see:
14.5 metric tons = 511,472.448 troy ounces
Gold $ / troy ounce = 1,388.60   

Total: 710,230,641.30

chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline synchrotron

  • Member
  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 299
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 13
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #48 on: 02/18/2011 07:55 PM »
Quote
If there was processed gold delivered my aliens to LEO, it would arguably no be profitable to launch the shuttle to retrieve it.

I'll go with the BOTE we did last year.  If the shuttle could go up and retrieve 20T of gold successfully, it would be a profitable enterprise.  The big problems are finding that gold, and then packaging it in that convenient pick up location.

Surely your BOTE showed that the market value was less than $900M.  Ignoring the mining, refinement, and transport costs to LEO, as you've pointed out.

The incremental costs of a Shuttle mission are somewhere around $300 million. If you include the VAB and everything with a low flight rate, $900 million may be about right. It really depends on the situation.
I think a better low flight rate cost is 50% higher than that estimate. USA is offering to fly two missions commercially a year for the low low price of $1.5B.

Edit: The USA proposed price is still higher than the value 14.5 MT of refined gold.  Which was the mass of a heavy SpaceLab or SpaceHab.  I now await correction of my downmass estimate from other readers.

lets see:
14.5 metric tons = 511,472.448 troy ounces
Gold $ / troy ounce = 1,388.60   

Total: 710,230,641.30


Nah.  14,500 kg ◊ 44600 USD/kg = ~$650M

And what's your deltaV from this refined gold's orbit to LEO again?

Offline Downix

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7087
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #49 on: 02/18/2011 08:04 PM »
Quote
If there was processed gold delivered my aliens to LEO, it would arguably no be profitable to launch the shuttle to retrieve it.

I'll go with the BOTE we did last year.  If the shuttle could go up and retrieve 20T of gold successfully, it would be a profitable enterprise.  The big problems are finding that gold, and then packaging it in that convenient pick up location.

Surely your BOTE showed that the market value was less than $900M.  Ignoring the mining, refinement, and transport costs to LEO, as you've pointed out.

The incremental costs of a Shuttle mission are somewhere around $300 million. If you include the VAB and everything with a low flight rate, $900 million may be about right. It really depends on the situation.
I think a better low flight rate cost is 50% higher than that estimate. USA is offering to fly two missions commercially a year for the low low price of $1.5B.

Edit: The USA proposed price is still higher than the value 14.5 MT of refined gold.  Which was the mass of a heavy SpaceLab or SpaceHab.  I now await correction of my downmass estimate from other readers.

lets see:
14.5 metric tons = 511,472.448 troy ounces
Gold $ / troy ounce = 1,388.60   

Total: 710,230,641.30


Nah.  14,500 kg ◊ 44600 USD/kg = ~$650M

And what's your deltaV from this refined gold's orbit to LEO again?

2.7
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #50 on: 02/18/2011 08:17 PM »
So the gist of the conversation so far is that uses for space that will enable us to fund the launch systems necessary to get there are as follows:
Communication (done in spades - Space's one true commercial success.)
Tourism

And that these two above enable the following potentials to develop slowly:
In Space Resource Utilization (volatiles return)
Leading to Space Resource Utilization on Earth

To the above, I would like to add, for conversational purposes, satellite refurbishment and salvage.
So, what else can we add to Communications and Tourism to make the first section more robust?
Look to history. New areas, explorers, then communications, then curious. Next step is resource capture.
History didn't document the exponential function in the Tsiolkovsky equation in previous frontier exploration and exploitation.
Of course, you can take a big swing at the rocket equation if you use ISRU. The one resource in space beyond planetary or lunar bodies is sunlight. With a solar sail-like photovoltaic solar array, you can gather a lot of energy to make the exhaust velocity one or two orders of magnitude higher than with conventional rockets. On planetary bodies (and the Moon) where solar power doesn't work as well, you have access to a lot of mass with which to chop the rocket equation up into much more manageable pieces.

Explorers in the past didn't bring everything they needed with them. They lived off the land. We must do the same.


BTW, it occurred to me that although nuclear material may be very difficult to make using local materials on Mars, basically all of the equipment itself could be made from the bounteous free iron (and nickel) on the Martian surface (i.e. the meteors that Opportunity keeps coming across), electrolysis of the Martian soil (large amounts of aluminum and other amounts of less common metals... lots of salts present in Martian soil), ceramics from the Martian soil, or synthesis from the air (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen) and ice (oxygen and hydrogen). If each colonist consumes on average 30kW of power, then a lifetime of energy could be produced from only a few kilograms of fissionable material (uranium, plutonium or thorium... assuming 30% efficiency). Nearly a century's worth of nuclear fuel (perhaps in the form of natural uranium to be burned up in a fast breeder reactor or in a thorium reactor) for a thousand individuals could be launched on a trans-Mars trajectory using an EELV-class launch vehicle.

"Vitamins" such as this (and perhaps computer chips, CIGS material for producing thin-film solar cells, industrial diamond, and rare materials for catalysts, etc) may greatly enhance the possibility of survival for an otherwise self-sufficient colony for a relatively small amount of additional mass. But there is little reason to think that nuclear material won't be found and exploited on Mars proper. And once you have the infrastructure necessary for producing silicon solar cells, you have a lot of the infrastructure necessary for making computer chips (and, of course, cruder computers can be made by using cruder silicon or even using vacuum tubes or relays). But for quite a while, I would bet that Mars will be trading with Earth whatever it can (Mars may well have richer ores than Earth by that time for some rare minerals whose cost rivals or exceeds that of gold today... Mars is littered with meteors just sitting on the surface all over the planet).
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 IsaacKuo

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #51 on: 02/18/2011 08:22 PM »
And what's your deltaV from this refined gold's orbit to LEO again?
2.7

All this talk of using a Space Shuttle to pick up this gold is just a strange little thought experiment.  When the gold was delivered by aliens to LEO, it was an amusing hypothetical about costs.

But if you're delivering gold to LEO for 2.7km/s of delta-v, you might as well do 2.71km/s to deliver the gold directly to Earth.  Then, you wouldn't need a Space Shuttle to pick it up.  You'd use an excavator instead.

Offline Downix

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7087
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #52 on: 02/18/2011 08:26 PM »
And what's your deltaV from this refined gold's orbit to LEO again?
2.7

All this talk of using a Space Shuttle to pick up this gold is just a strange little thought experiment.  When the gold was delivered by aliens to LEO, it was an amusing hypothetical about costs.

But if you're delivering gold to LEO for 2.7km/s of delta-v, you might as well do 2.71km/s to deliver the gold directly to Earth.  Then, you wouldn't need a Space Shuttle to pick it up.  You'd use an excavator instead.
Damn, how'd you sneak my business plan?
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #53 on: 02/18/2011 08:29 PM »
Not to mention what adding that much gold to the market all at once would do to the price of gold.

Pulling us back on topic, we still need to figure out some additional areas of opportunity to help build robustness into the next step in Space development.

We've got Bigelow planning to launch one or more stations for private and governmental use. (Space Tourism)  Surely mai-tai's in a squeezebulb aren't going to be the sole salvation of human spacetravel!
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline 93143

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3038
  • Liked: 292
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #54 on: 02/18/2011 08:32 PM »
Funny story:

Shuttle at 5 flights per year, run by NASA (heavy overhead) is about $2.8 - 3.2B.  That's $560 - 640M per flight, including fixed costs.  Slightly less than the value of the gold (Shuttle can take down 15 mT IIRC).

According to the contractors, spinning off STS as a commercial operation could slash overall program costs by ~40% for an equivalent flight rate, which makes the case look a lot better.

Incremental, of course, makes it look even better (the assumption here is that you'd still have all the fixed costs for other reasons if the gold weren't there, and that the pickup flight doesn't displace a flight desired for other reasons, and that either the party paying for the fixed costs is the same one that wants the gold, or is willing to not charge a portion of the fixed costs to whoever wants the gold).

[I think $300M sounds much too high for the incremental cost of a Shuttle launch, especially when you consider fixed costs at contractor facilities like the SRB factory - ie: flight rate affects the purchase price of components.  How did you arrive at that number?]

...

Falcon 9/Dragon has 3 mT of downmass, and is currently sold to NASA at $133M/flight, which is very slightly less than the value of the gold.  Please note that a cargo Dragon has no way of actually picking up the gold, whereas Shuttle does.

Hopefully Elon can get his prices down...

...

Anyway, kind of a weird coincidence that both these launcher/spacecraft systems have last-known-data launch prices that, when applied entirely to LEO downmass capability, almost exactly match the market price of gold...

Not to mention what adding that much gold to the market all at once would do to the price of gold.

The IMF holds over 3000 tonnes of gold.  Fort Knox holds over 4000 tonnes.  The total amount of gold ever mined is supposedly about 165,000 tonnes.  Bringing back 15 tonnes of gold on the Shuttle is not going to dent the price.

Quote
Pulling us back on topic

Good idea.  I'll shut up now.
« Last Edit: 02/18/2011 09:17 PM by 93143 »

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #55 on: 02/18/2011 09:20 PM »
Not to mention what adding that much gold to the market all at once would do to the price of gold.
...
Who said you'd put it all on the market all at once? World gold production is roughly $100 billion a year. Put it out a little at a time and you have a stable source of income lasting for decades. And, there are a lot of other precious metals, like Platinum, Palladium, Rhenium, and Rhodium which are around the same price as gold (or many times greater). If you found rich ores of these metals, you would also be able to make billions a year. Probably the biggest thing is the new industries that would be possible with relatively inexpensive supplies of minerals that right now are incredibly rare. If you can find asteroids with very rich ores of these metals.
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

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #56 on: 02/18/2011 09:57 PM »
So, what is space's killer application?












What is Earth's killer application?
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 A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8380
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 306
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #57 on: 02/19/2011 06:37 AM »

History didn't document the exponential function in the Tsiolkovsky equation in previous frontier exploration and exploitation.


History does, it just uses other words.  Also the delta-Vs are smaller.

Rommel complained that his trucks used all the fuel for his tanks.

Armies had major logistical problems getting their horses across land with out grass and water such as deserts and salt marshes.  Dead animals are an extreme form of staging.

Offline Downix

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7087
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #58 on: 02/19/2011 06:50 AM »

History didn't document the exponential function in the Tsiolkovsky equation in previous frontier exploration and exploitation.


History does, it just uses other words.  Also the delta-Vs are smaller.

Rommel complained that his trucks used all the fuel for his tanks.

Armies had major logistical problems getting their horses across land with out grass and water such as deserts and salt marshes.  Dead animals are an extreme form of staging.
Napoleon once commented that to feed one of his soldiers requiring bringing enough food for 8 people.

That is the nature of the beast.

Now, from the perspective of a person in 1800, the mountains of California were as remote as the moon is to us now.  A few expeditions, heroes made, but that was it.  Hostile environment more likely than not to kill anyone trying to reach it.  And just like then, it is there we must go and make our fortune.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline Jorge

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6180
  • Liked: 32
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #59 on: 02/19/2011 07:29 AM »

History didn't document the exponential function in the Tsiolkovsky equation in previous frontier exploration and exploitation.


History does, it just uses other words.  Also the delta-Vs are smaller.

Rommel complained that his trucks used all the fuel for his tanks.

Armies had major logistical problems getting their horses across land with out grass and water such as deserts and salt marshes.  Dead animals are an extreme form of staging.

Amundsen would agree, except he could honestly say he planned it that way.
« Last Edit: 02/19/2011 07:34 AM by Jorge »
JRF

Offline savuporo

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5155
  • Liked: 981
  • Likes Given: 343
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #60 on: 02/19/2011 11:32 PM »
Did you know there are zero under water ore mines?  No coper, iron, urinium, plutonium, gold, ANYTHING besides oil has been mined in water deeper than 10 feet?

Untrue.
« Last Edit: 02/19/2011 11:40 PM by savuporo »
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline SpacexULA

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1756
  • Liked: 46
  • Likes Given: 73
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #61 on: 02/20/2011 02:52 AM »
Untrue.

Could you give me a link on that one?  I really did look before I made that statement, and could not find a single under water ore mine.

Only oil and gas recovery.
No Bucks no Buck Rogers, but at least Flexible path gets you Twiki.

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #62 on: 02/20/2011 05:22 AM »
So, what is space's killer application?



What is Earth's killer application?

That is precisely what I started this thread to look for.  To get folks brainstorming outside the box.  10 years ago, before SpaceShipOne won the X-prize, Space Tourism was very much 'outside the box' thinking for applied spaceflight, yet now it is on everyone's business plan.

We've hit on some great discussion so far and not one single person has yet brought up one of the older space utilization ideas, (and one that, based on our ISS experience is likely to require at least a small amount of on-orbit human labor).  Solar Power Satellites.  Now, I'll admit that at current energy costs they don't make a lot of sense for commercial purposes, but what about Military or Disaster Recovery uses? 

In both cases, the logistical tail of the front line can be reduced if forward bases can tap a microwave signal for power instead of trucking in fuel for generators.  How feasible is broad area beaming to power or charge batteries on an all electric recon Humvee?  Where does the current cell efficiency stand for space cells?

People talk about Government needing to step up to support spaceflight.  How about a Darpa challenge to demonstrate the beaming of 1000 usable kilowatts of electricity from GEO or HEEO to a specific point on the ground.  Pioneer the actual placement of the technology and then let the investors jump on the proven concept... (as is beginning to happen with car automation systems - self parking anyone?)


edit: grammar
« Last Edit: 02/20/2011 05:24 AM by Cherokee43v6 »
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #63 on: 02/20/2011 06:34 AM »
I don't know if the logistical tail will ever be improved with microwaves, when you consider the size of a receiver array necessary. Lasers, well maybe. Efficiencies for single-wavelength photovoltaics and lasers are slowly but steadily improving (and power outputs for solid-state lasers are improving). And, of course, this has military applications that won't likely be overlooked.
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 savuporo

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5155
  • Liked: 981
  • Likes Given: 343
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #64 on: 02/20/2011 06:07 PM »
Untrue.

Could you give me a link on that one?  I really did look before I made that statement, and could not find a single under water ore mine.

Only oil and gas recovery.

In order of relevance:
http://www.nautilusminerals.com/s/Home.asp
http://www.google.com/search?q=solwara+1&tbs=nws:1
http://www.underwatermining.org/
( history )
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manganese_nodule

The summary of it all is, underwater mining has been successfully tried in the past, it didnt turn out to be economical for various factors back then. With new rapid underwater telerobotics advances, there is a surge of interest and active development projects like Solwara 1.

Greg Baiden gave a presentation on Space Manufacturing Conference a few months back, covering the same subject in a segment


Note that the biggest question around underwater mining sites currently is "environmental concerns". Space doesnt have that.

EDIT: Actually undersea mining is covered here

« Last Edit: 02/22/2011 04:26 PM by savuporo »
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline synchrotron

  • Member
  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 299
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 13
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #65 on: 02/22/2011 03:49 PM »

History didn't document the exponential function in the Tsiolkovsky equation in previous frontier exploration and exploitation.


History does, it just uses other words.  Also the delta-Vs are smaller.

Rommel complained that his trucks used all the fuel for his tanks.

Armies had major logistical problems getting their horses across land with out grass and water such as deserts and salt marshes.  Dead animals are an extreme form of staging.

Amundsen would agree, except he could honestly say he planned it that way.
These are all modern sources.  How about Sun Tzu pointing out c. 500 B.C. that one wagon of your enemy's supplies is worth ten of your own?

The key difference is that these are simply infrastructural effects.  Put in a railroad and the problem is alleviated by 3 orders of magnitude.  No amount of infrastructure is going to help you when you need to carry reaction mass to climb out of a gravity well or move through vacuum.  You have halve or quarter a deltaV problem, but the fundamental physical limitation remains.

edit: my lousy spelling
« Last Edit: 02/22/2011 03:50 PM by synchrotron »

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #66 on: 02/22/2011 04:30 PM »

The key difference is that these are simply infrastructural effects.  Put in a railroad and the problem is alleviated by 3 orders of magnitude.  No amount of infrastructure is going to help you when you need to carry reaction mass to climb out of a gravity well or move through vacuum.  You have halve or quarter a deltaV problem, but the fundamental physical limitation remains.

edit: my lousy spelling


Prior to the early 1800's, guns were built by gunsmiths.  Each one was individually crafted.  Around the 1830's, the industrial revolution caught up with gun production and it became possible for them to be mass produced on assembly lines.  The US Civil War and the various British wars around mid-century and the American frontier provided high demand, driving the efficiency of these factories.

Currently, spaceflight is still in the craftsman stage.  Delta-V is not going to change, but the cost of the equipment to overcome gravity will, IF there is sufficient demand to move us to the 'mass production' of rockets.  It's all about flight rate.  If there is nothing to launch, then launch is expensive.

High flight rates also breed innovation.  Equipment and processes are improved in an evolutionary fashion, resulting in incremental increases in performance and decreases in expense.

So, we need to find a way to increase flight rates.  What can we launch?
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline IsaacKuo

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #67 on: 02/22/2011 05:15 PM »
The key difference is that these are simply infrastructural effects.  Put in a railroad and the problem is alleviated by 3 orders of magnitude.  No amount of infrastructure is going to help you when you need to carry reaction mass to climb out of a gravity well or move through vacuum.  You have halve or quarter a deltaV problem, but the fundamental physical limitation remains.

Enough infrastructure could help you.  The obvious example is a space elevator.  There are less obvious examples, such as a laser powerful enough for laser thermal boosters, or inverse aerobraking.

Using a stream of decimeter scale solar sails in retrograde solar orbit, the effective specific impulse can be about 10,000--alleviating your reaction mass problem by a couple orders of magnitude (instead of lifting an order of magnitude more propellant than payload, you're lifting an order of magnitude more payload than propellant).

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8380
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 306
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #68 on: 02/22/2011 05:22 PM »

History didn't document the exponential function in the Tsiolkovsky equation in previous frontier exploration and exploitation.


History does, it just uses other words.  Also the delta-Vs are smaller.

Rommel complained that his trucks used all the fuel for his tanks.

Armies had major logistical problems getting their horses across land with out grass and water such as deserts and salt marshes.  Dead animals are an extreme form of staging.

Amundsen would agree, except he could honestly say he planned it that way.
These are all modern sources.  How about Sun Tzu pointing out c. 500 B.C. that one wagon of your enemy's supplies is worth ten of your own?

The salt marshes come from the "Art of War" by SunTzu.

Quote
The key difference is that these are simply infrastructural effects.  Put in a railroad and the problem is alleviated by 3 orders of magnitude.  No amount of infrastructure is going to help you when you need to carry reaction mass to climb out of a gravity well or move through vacuum.  You have halve or quarter a deltaV problem, but the fundamental physical limitation remains.

edit: my lousy spelling


That example is a change in Isp (and thrust).
Horses on dirt tracks V. iron horses on rail track.

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12606
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 3489
  • Likes Given: 702
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #69 on: 02/22/2011 05:30 PM »
So, what is space's killer application?

We've already found several 'killer apps" for unmanned space - communications, weather, and military observation satellites, for example.

For humans, the "killer app" does not yet exist.  Humans need a planet with an atmosphere and a habitable environment.  Millions are not going to rush into space to float in a can and wonder how they're going to go to the bathroom without creating a mini-disaster or how they're going to survive space sickness or bone loss or long-term radiation exposure. 

Someone needs to build, or create, a habitable planet.  That would be your "killer app".

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 02/22/2011 05:32 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline savuporo

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5155
  • Liked: 981
  • Likes Given: 343
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #70 on: 02/22/2011 05:39 PM »
For humans, the "killer app" does not yet exist.  Humans need a planet with an atmosphere and a habitable environment. ...
Someone needs to build, or create, a habitable planet.  That would be your "killer app".


Some would disagree with the "planet" bit of it.

Quote
We should ask, critically and with appeal to the numbers, whether the best site for a growing advancing industrial society is Earth, the Moon, Mars, some other planet, or somewhere else entirely. Surprisingly, the answer will be inescapable - the best site is "somewhere else entirely."
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12606
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 3489
  • Likes Given: 702
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #71 on: 02/22/2011 06:10 PM »
For humans, the "killer app" does not yet exist.  Humans need a planet with an atmosphere and a habitable environment. ...
Someone needs to build, or create, a habitable planet.  That would be your "killer app".


Some would disagree with the "planet" bit of it.

Quote
We should ask, critically and with appeal to the numbers, whether the best site for a growing advancing industrial society is Earth, the Moon, Mars, some other planet, or somewhere else entirely. Surprisingly, the answer will be inescapable - the best site is "somewhere else entirely."


Gerard O'Neill and friends provide good "out-there" thinking, but given a choice of living in a rotating cylinder a few miles long or on a planet, I would go planet every time.  ;)

Think about this obscure example.  O'Neill said that plants could be grown in his cylinders free from the threat of damage by "pests".  Who wants to live in a place with no "pests" - in other words in a place with very limited biological diversity?  Sounds pretty stale to me.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 02/22/2011 06:10 PM by edkyle99 »

Online Jim Davis

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 533
  • Liked: 99
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #72 on: 02/22/2011 06:14 PM »
[quote author=edkyle99
For humans, the "killer app" does not yet exist.  Humans need a planet with an atmosphere and a habitable environment. ...
Someone needs to build, or create, a habitable planet.  That would be your "killer app".

Quote
Some would disagree with the "planet" bit of it.

But they all voice their disagreement from the surface of a planet.

Offline IsaacKuo

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #73 on: 02/22/2011 06:34 PM »
Think about this obscure example.  O'Neill said that plants could be grown in his cylinders free from the threat of damage by "pests".  Who wants to live in a place with no "pests" - in other words in a place with very limited biological diversity?  Sounds pretty stale to me.

Sounds pretty nice to me.  I'd rather live in a city than the jungle.  Not everyone likes living in the artificial environment of a heavily built up city, but plenty of us do.

I think the future of humanity includes habitats in Earth orbit, perhaps supplied by small NEOs deflected into Earth orbit by intercepting them with even smaller impactors.  (Small NEOs passing nearby are common compared to larger NEOs, they're easier to deflect and don't represent a significant risk if deflected to Earth collision.)

In the meantime, the "killer app" to make this closer to reality is adapting BMD capabilities like Aegis BMD to deep space for the purposes of asteroid defense.  We need to develop techniques to defend against Earth impactors.  We can get practice by using small missiles to intercept very small NEOs--ones small enough that they won't be a threat if they collide with Earth.

As we refine the techniques, we can evolve capabilities in two basic directions.  One is to upscale to larger asteroids which are further away, for true asteroid defense capabilities.  Another is to perfect capabilities to detect and intercept smaller NEOs which pass nearby, so we can slow them down just enough to enter Earth orbit.  This capability can provide a base of resources in Earth orbit.

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12606
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 3489
  • Likes Given: 702
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #74 on: 02/22/2011 07:14 PM »
Think about this obscure example.  O'Neill said that plants could be grown in his cylinders free from the threat of damage by "pests".  Who wants to live in a place with no "pests" - in other words in a place with very limited biological diversity?  Sounds pretty stale to me.

Sounds pretty nice to me.  I'd rather live in a city than the jungle.  Not everyone likes living in the artificial environment of a heavily built up city, but plenty of us do.

I can only speak for "my" city.  Chicago has rats, and mice, and squirrels, and birds of many varieties, and fish in the lake, and gazillions of insects, sometimes swarms of them, and deer, and fox, and the occasional coyote, and, once a couple of years ago, even a mountain lion!   http://neveryetmelted.com/2008/04/16/mountain-lion-shot-in-chicagos-north-side/

I've had to fight off waves of chipmunks nibbling on my siding, squirrels trying to claw their way into my attic, hummingbirds pecking on my house, raccoons knocking over my garbage cans and, once, crawling down my chimney!  I've seen massive swarms of noisy, creepy oversize cicadas crawling everywhere every 17 years.  I've had episodes of being overrun by blackbirds, toads, and mosquitoes.  And, of course, the mice try to move inside when winter arrives each year.  (Sadly for them, I've become, through many years of practice, quite efficient at solving that problem.)

When I lived in Florida it was water bugs and snakes and fire ants.  One time when I was running, dazed from the heat, I nearly stepped on an alligator sun-bathing on the sidewalk!

I can't imagine living without all of these critters, even if they sometimes seem to be working against my interest!  Any "new" planet will have to be "stocked" with animals, good and bad, to become an acceptable human landscape.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 02/22/2011 07:28 PM by edkyle99 »

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #75 on: 02/22/2011 10:34 PM »
I have been recently immersing myself in the images returned from the unmanned landers/rovers sent to Mars...

Mars is the place. It has all the elements necessary. It has free iron-nickel alloy metal all over the place (can be directly used for casting parts with no more refining) in large quantities, and when that runs out, parts of Mars are carpeted in spherules of high-quality hematite ore. It has a carbon-dioxide atmosphere that, when compressed and given a little oxygen to start the process, can be turned into food, raw materials (wood, rubber), and oxygen through plants in a greenhouse. Its atmosphere protects any would-be settlers from the worst part of space radiation (much of the surface of Mars has lower radiation than the natural background radiation in Ramsar, Iran). There appears to be lots and lots of water stored underground there (seas-worth, if not oceans), some within shovel-distance of the surface. Heck, parts of Mars experience occasional snow fall that even reaches the ground during part of the year. There are salts also available that could be used for other purposes. There may be geothermal energy available in spots (this is an unknown, but Mars is not as dead as, say, the Moon) which would really come in handy. Living on Mars would be tough, but I think it is possible on a sustainable basis. It also has considerable gravity.

The presence of complex and dynamic processes on Mars also means there may be concentrations of certain ores on Mars that are either very useful on Mars itself (like perchlorates that can possibly be catalytically processed to release heat and oxygen) or valuable for export (large amounts of platinum-group metals) after refining on Mars to a resource-strapped Earth. Mars has just the right conditions to preserve all sorts of meteorites littering the surface, so it might be easier to collect and refine the asteroid belt by just doing it on the surface of Mars (once infrastructure is available), at least for very high-value minerals... I think of the surface of Mars as a sort of flat version of the asteroid belt, collected over the last few millions or billions of years, protected from subduction and weathering (to some extent) but also with more sky-fall per-square-meter than on Earth because of the greater proximity to the asteroid belt (and lack of a large Moon), but with enough of an atmosphere to slow down the meteorites before they plow into the ground and vaporize.

The ubiquitous carbon dioxide atmosphere (easily processed into fuel) combined with the very low delta-v to Low Mars Orbit may mean that reaching orbit from Mars may be easier than reaching orbit from Earth (also may mean orbital atmospheric skimming for orbital fuel production may be practical in low Mars orbit).
« Last Edit: 02/22/2011 10:37 PM by Robotbeat »
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

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #76 on: 02/22/2011 10:35 PM »
Now for the slightly crazier ideas regarding Mars:

I still think it might be possible for carefully-engineered life to actually live on the surface of some parts of Mars, though with a (translucent) skin providing protection from the low pressure and ultra-violet light, etc. Crops grown in this way could allow much easier production of needed substances (food, fuel, oxygen, polymers) and perhaps even a start at terraforming.

In the far future, Mars could also be terraformed. Targeted out-gassing of the frozen volatiles under the surface of Mars could bring the surface pressure to a level in some places that approaches the Armstrong limit (thereby allowing folks to go around with only oxygen masks... at least for short periods of time...). I propose doing this with large orbital mirrors made out of ultra-light material like what is used for solar sails... If made light enough, this could be done for "only" a few trillion dollars (assuming the launch price exceeds the cost of manufacturing the mirrors and that launch prices can get down to ~$500/kg).... Even less depending on if you can manufacture massive precision mirrors (or diffraction gratings) out of carbon nanotube weaves or something like that. The more massive atmosphere would also be partially self-sustaining since it would cause a greater greenhouse effect and thus more off-gassing.

If global warming (or, even more relevant, cooling) ends up being a catastrophic problem like the doomsayers claim, we may be forced to build such orbital mirrors for Earth, anyways.


Another way to do this would be sending a series of icy asteroids to smack into Mars bringing extra volatiles, but also heating up the surface (thus releasing subterranean volatiles) and perhaps carving out a lower-altitude spot where the atmosphere would have a higher pressure (nearer the Armstrong Limit). The draw-back of this is that it can provide lots of problems if there are any existing colonies on Mars...
« Last Edit: 02/22/2011 10:41 PM by Robotbeat »
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

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #77 on: 02/22/2011 11:09 PM »
Here are some pictures from Mars that sort of back up some of my claims:
Clouds on Mars (click to animate!)
A whole bunch of dust devils on Mars (click to animate!)
Frost on Mars (one of the Viking landers)
Frost on Mars again
A meteor impact revealing rather pure ice below the Martian surface (and as it sublimes away)
This shows what appears to be pack-ice (or the remnants of pack-ice) at mid-latitudes on Mars (I think)
A metallic (iron-nickel) meteorite on Mars found by the Opportunity rover... just one among many that the two rovers have found on Mars
« Last Edit: 02/22/2011 11:11 PM by Robotbeat »
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 93143

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3038
  • Liked: 292
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #78 on: 02/23/2011 01:55 AM »
Sol IV
------
Size:  Small
Environment:  Tundra
Gravity:  Low-G
Mineral Abundance:  Rich

no colonies

Offline Diagoras

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 457
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 23
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #79 on: 02/23/2011 02:21 PM »
Unless we're playing Psylons, I'd suggest looking for something else in the system/developing interstellar travel.  ;)
"Itís the typical binary world of 'NASA is great' or 'cancel the space program,' with no nuance or understanding of the underlying issues and pathologies of the space industrial complex."

Offline JohnFornaro

  • Not an expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9161
  • Delta-t is the salient metric.
  • Planet Eaarth
    • Design / Program Associates
  • Liked: 617
  • Likes Given: 320
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #80 on: 02/23/2011 03:25 PM »
Communication (done in spades - Space's one true commercial success.)
Which doesn't need any capability other than what is currently available.

Quote
Tourism

Which I could see coming down one order of magnitude, from $25M to $2.5M, maybe, for a brief stay at a "hotel", but which would pay only for a small fraction of the necessary launch costs.

Quote
And that these two above enable the following potentials to develop slowly:
In Space Resource Utilization (volatiles return)
Leading to Space Resource Utilization on Earth

The first, satellites, would not, I think.  The second, tourists, slowly, but rather slowly.  In any case, they would not "lead to" ISRU.  Rather, ISRU would be needed first, to enable more "visitors" to be "led to" the destination.  As to bringing materials back, they would have to be finished products.  I'm pretty sure that raw materials, unless very rare, in general, couldn't be brought back profitably.  As to sat refurb, I don't think that's going to happen.

The space economy would happen after people can live there without the need for constant resupply.  That's going to take what, another six months to a year to make happen?  Hardy har har?

As to that BOTE about bringing back gold bullion?  It would completely depend on the reality of those bandied about launch costs.  When I said, "there's not a lot of gold up there", I meant, "Even tho there's probably more gold up there than anyone could count, we don't know where, exactly, it is, nor how to get it, so it's virtually the same thing as 'there's not a lot of gold up there' ".

Anyway, kind of a weird coincidence that both these launcher/spacecraft systems have last-known-data launch prices that, when applied entirely to LEO downmass capability, almost exactly match the market price of gold...

Which is all that the BOTE demonstrated.  Which is that, yes, there is a readily conceivable cargo which could be retrieved profitably by current capability, nothing more.  The details of assembling that cargo can then be concentrated on without wondering whether or not it could be actually brought back to the Earth's surface.  Clearly, it could be retrieved from LEO, if it could be placed in LEO.

Solar power sats will be very useful in a constellation around the Moon, and not practicable for current Earthly use any time soon.  There are several threads around here about that.

Think about this obscure example.  O'Neill said that plants could be grown in his cylinders free from the threat of damage by "pests".  Who wants to live in a place with no "pests" - in other words in a place with very limited biological diversity?  Sounds pretty stale to me.

Sounds pretty nice to me.  I'd rather live in a city than the jungle.  Not everyone likes living in the artificial environment of a heavily built up city, but plenty of us do.

This is an example of NSoV.  No shortage of volunteers.  It does not address launch costs, habitability, nor the fundamentals of a space based economy.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12606
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 3489
  • Likes Given: 702
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #81 on: 02/23/2011 04:19 PM »
This is an example of NSoV.  No shortage of volunteers.  It does not address launch costs, habitability, nor the fundamentals of a space based economy.

Volunteers, but how many?  A true "killer app" is something that nearly everyone among the vast masses wants, including your mom!  Smartphone, Facebook, Henry's Model-T, etc.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 02/23/2011 04:21 PM by edkyle99 »

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #82 on: 02/23/2011 05:29 PM »
Mars exploration/exploitation/colonization is probably a little ahead of where we want to be looking in this conversation, though as an additional layer to increase robustness, it is clearly the next logical step after developing near-Earth space.

Yes, we could do Mars today.  We've had the technology to do it for at least 20 years, but the cost of going to Mars as a stand-alone program is highly prohibitive.  Not so much the cost in treasure, but the cost in political will to see it through.  The problem is that even if we saw it through, it would end up an Apollo style flag and footprints mission with no followup.  However, if we can develop near-Earth space to the point that significant numbers of people are living and working there, then the costs of going to Mars in dollars and in political will come down significantly and the likelyhood of a true exploration/exploitation effort increases.


JohnFornaro, I appreciate the devils-advocate position as regards the suggestions that are being shared.  Would you have any suggestions you would like to put forward to help acheive a robust human presence in near-Earth space? 

Personally, I've been very negative on the potentials and possiblities of space exploitation for a number of years. That was up until about 4 years ago when I realized how serious companies like Scaled Composites, Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, and Bigelow are about changing the way the whole game is played. 

As I said in an earlier post, 10 years ago Space Tourism was completely 'outside the box' thinking.  Today, it is the peg on which the space community seems to be hanging all its hopes for orbital development.  However, a single decent revenue stream does not ensure success, it will take a diverse array of development opportunities to open space to the rest of us.

We need those ideas.
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #83 on: 02/23/2011 06:05 PM »
One big issue (not necessarily insurmountable) with space mining: The amount of energy that needs to be dissipated to bring a reasonably large (>100 tons) asteroid down to the Earth is as great as a nuclear weapon. I can imagine finding a nickel-rich near-Earth object ~20000 tons (with an average value of... say... ~$5/kg) and nudging it into a keyhole that will send it toward a specific spot on Earth on the next time around with rather little required fuel, but the energy with which it will impact Earth will be about the same as a hydrogen bomb.

This poses a big problem: One is that most countries in the world don't like the idea of explosions that large which could accidentally hit their country.

Downix, how do you propose to overcome this? Go after higher priced minerals and do the beneficiation at the asteroid? I suppose that would allow many more asteroid targets, since delta-v would not be as big of an issue as it is for lower priced minerals.... If you have to move the asteroid through a large delta-v and not just into a keyhole, remember that for about 2.7km/s, you are talking at least the same mass needs to be put in LEO if you use chemical rockets... So you can only go after minerals worth, even after beneficiation, over the cost-per-kg-to-orbit, or between $1000-$10000/kg, depending on how optimistic you are.
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 93143

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3038
  • Liked: 292
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #84 on: 02/23/2011 09:39 PM »
Don't bring the asteroid to LEO.  There's drag in LEO.

Stick it at a Lagrange point.  Station-keeping requirements should be trivial to nonexistent, particularly at a Trojan point.  You could do a close swingby of Earth, so that a relatively minor braking burn through perigee is sufficient to ensure that the asteroid doesn't quite make it back out of the gravity well.  Maybe do multiple swingbys over multiple solar orbits, to minimize the required delta-V...  Aerocapture is probably too risky, unless even if you could build a big enough (inflatable?) heat shield with a sufficiently well-defined shape...

Now the question becomes:  how cheap can you make returning large quantities of minerals to Earth from an L-point?  Is in-situ heat shield production a silly idea in general, or does it depend on the asteroid's composition?  How light could a minimal cargo-return capsule be, and how cheap to transport around cislunar space?

You could just use the minerals in space, of course, but that doesn't directly do Earth any good, so as a rationale for space it's a circular argument...

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #85 on: 02/23/2011 09:44 PM »
Don't bring the asteroid to LEO.  There's drag in LEO.

Stick it at a Lagrange point.  Station-keeping requirements should be trivial to nonexistent, particularly at a Trojan point.  You could do a close swingby of Earth, so that a relatively minor braking burn through perigee is sufficient to ensure that the asteroid doesn't quite make it back out of the gravity well.  Maybe do multiple swingbys over multiple solar orbits, to minimize the required delta-V...  Aerocapture is probably too risky, unless even if you could build a big enough (inflatable?) heat shield with a sufficiently well-defined shape...

Now the question becomes:  how cheap can you make returning large quantities of minerals to Earth from an L-point?  Is in-situ heat shield production a silly idea in general, or does it depend on the asteroid's composition?  How light could a minimal cargo-return capsule be, and how cheap to transport around cislunar space?

You could just use the minerals in space, of course, but that doesn't directly do Earth any good, so as a rationale for space it's a circular argument...
I didn't mean to suggest capturing the asteroid in orbit. I meant atmospheric entry of the whole thing... artificial meteorite, if you will. That way, you just dig it out of the crater (or pull it out of the ocean). If it's going to be processed in space, then might as well do it without trying to push the asteroid through big delta-vs... just do it in-situ.
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 93143

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3038
  • Liked: 292
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #86 on: 02/23/2011 10:15 PM »
If it's going to be processed in space, then might as well do it without trying to push the asteroid through big delta-vs... just do it in-situ.

The trouble with that is travel time.  An asteroid in solar orbit is an awfully long way from Earth if something goes wrong with either the machinery (if unmanned) or an operator (if manned)...  Also, ramping production up - or down, given the pipeline lag - is logistically problematic.

If a relatively minor effort could park the thing at L4, I say go for it.  It's not instantaneous or trivially easy, but you only have to do it once per asteroid.

Whether or not it's worth it to do this probably depends on the size of the asteroid...  for a non-Earth-crossing one it's probably not worth it in any case...

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #87 on: 02/24/2011 01:03 AM »
If it's going to be processed in space, then might as well do it without trying to push the asteroid through big delta-vs... just do it in-situ.

The trouble with that is travel time.  An asteroid in solar orbit is an awfully long way from Earth if something goes wrong with either the machinery (if unmanned) or an operator (if manned)...  Also, ramping production up - or down, given the pipeline lag - is logistically problematic.

If a relatively minor effort could park the thing at L4, I say go for it.  It's not instantaneous or trivially easy, but you only have to do it once per asteroid.

Whether or not it's worth it to do this probably depends on the size of the asteroid...  for a non-Earth-crossing one it's probably not worth it in any case...
Go ahead and calculate the delta-v necessary to park the asteroid in orbit (halo or otherwise). I don't see how it's any better than just plunging the whole thing through the atmosphere and doing the processing on the ground. For probably any asteroid, the delta-v requirements would be very prohibitive versus just returning a fraction of the asteroid (the high-value, very-high-quality beneficiated platinum ore, say) or--for certain NEOs which would have a very, very low delta-v for Earth-impact by using Earth's gravity as leverage--returning the whole thing all the way to the surface and just extracting it from a continental shelf or something. The only way capturing in orbit wouldn't be ridiculously expensive delta-v-wise is if you used aerobraking, which has all the problems of full reentry but you still have to process the asteroid in orbit versus on the ground.
« Last Edit: 02/24/2011 01:06 AM by Robotbeat »
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 Namechange User

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7301
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #88 on: 02/24/2011 01:08 AM »
I don't see how it's any better than just plunging the whole thing through the atmosphere and doing the processing on the ground.

I was going to ask a dinosaur friend of mine but he's extinct.  Oh well, I think Armageddon is on TV guess I'll go watch that. 
Enjoying viewing the forum a little better now by filtering certain users.

Offline 93143

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3038
  • Liked: 292
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #89 on: 02/24/2011 02:40 AM »
Assuming your 20,000-ton asteroid is solid enough to withstand 1/30 of a gee, a JUS would impart about 43 m/s, which is a bit less than a third of what you need to get from C3=0 to L1 or L2 (or 10% of what you need to get to L4 or L5 - 1/3 gee if you fire all of them at once...).

The asteroid won't be at C3=0, of course, but if my calculations are correct, even a 2.7 km/s orbital velocity difference is only a little over 300 m/s if you do the burn in close to Earth.  And that number could be mitigated further by massaging the asteroid's orbit with solar electric thrusters first...

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #90 on: 02/24/2011 03:28 AM »
Assuming your 20,000-ton asteroid is solid enough to withstand 1/30 of a gee, a JUS would impart about 43 m/s, which is a bit less than a third of what you need to get from C3=0 to L1 or L2 (or 10% of what you need to get to L4 or L5 - 1/3 gee if you fire all of them at once...).

The asteroid won't be at C3=0, of course, but if my calculations are correct, even a 2.7 km/s orbital velocity difference is only a little over 300 m/s if you do the burn in close to Earth.  ...
And this is my main point. Even capturing the asteroid into orbit (whether by aerobraking or a burn while passing deep within the Earth's gravity well) would likely cause nations the world over to be very nervous. Might as well actually get something useful for that nervousness. Of course, that'd only work for solid (and probably metal) asteroids... Rubble-piles would probably just disintegrate in a big explosion or something like that.

EDIT: And even a solid asteroid would probably need to be separated into, say, 100 ton chunks in order to decrease the ballistic coefficient to let the pieces slow down a little bit before slamming into the Earth.
« Last Edit: 02/24/2011 03:42 AM by Robotbeat »
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 Downix

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7087
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #91 on: 02/24/2011 04:01 AM »
Assuming your 20,000-ton asteroid is solid enough to withstand 1/30 of a gee, a JUS would impart about 43 m/s, which is a bit less than a third of what you need to get from C3=0 to L1 or L2 (or 10% of what you need to get to L4 or L5 - 1/3 gee if you fire all of them at once...).

The asteroid won't be at C3=0, of course, but if my calculations are correct, even a 2.7 km/s orbital velocity difference is only a little over 300 m/s if you do the burn in close to Earth.  ...
And this is my main point. Even capturing the asteroid into orbit (whether by aerobraking or a burn while passing deep within the Earth's gravity well) would likely cause nations the world over to be very nervous. Might as well actually get something useful for that nervousness. Of course, that'd only work for solid (and probably metal) asteroids... Rubble-piles would probably just disintegrate in a big explosion or something like that.

EDIT: And even a solid asteroid would probably need to be separated into, say, 100 ton chunks in order to decrease the ballistic coefficient to let the pieces slow down a little bit before slamming into the Earth.
I'd be parking it, not in LEO however.  Lunar orbit is actually simpler to achieve.  From there, break apart pieces, which are then sent back to Earth. 
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline 93143

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3038
  • Liked: 292
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #92 on: 02/24/2011 04:49 AM »
IMCAC, for a 20,000-ton asteroid, 2.7 km/s using VASIMR is roughly 60 MWe for a year, and 1050 mT of argon.  Or 350 MWe for a year and 180 mT of hydrogen.

This is not a very large object at all.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #93 on: 02/24/2011 05:06 AM »
IMCAC, for a 20,000-ton asteroid, 2.7 km/s using VASIMR is roughly 60 MWe for a year, and 1050 mT of argon.  Or 350 MWe for a year and 180 mT of hydrogen.

This is not a very large object at all.
60MWe solar array and power electronics and thrusters is huge. 1050mT of Argon is huge. 350MWe is not realistic. Especially for only a 20,000 ton asteroid which probably won't be worth more than $200 million when all is said and done.

The only way I can see this as being realistic (at least before a trillion dollars in space infrastructure is already up there...) is if you can use the Earth's gravity as a lever for a small metallic asteroid that already has a pretty good chance of impacting Earth. In that case, the required delta-v is measured in millimeters per second, not kilometers per second. This is because you modify its orbit before it passes Earth and then Earth's gravity magnifies your action (after which time you do small corrections to ensure it hits exactly the right spot). In this way, a relatively small (and thus inexpensive) craft with high-TRL technology can bring back a lot of valuable minerals. Still might need to find some way to split the asteroid apart into a hundred pieces, though.

In any case, by bringing a NEO near the Earth, whether to smack the Earth directly or merely to capture it in some sort of orbit, we are making it into a Potentially hazardous asteroid, with all the political fallout of that. Unless you do the processing on site and only return small amounts of high priced minerals.
« Last Edit: 02/24/2011 05:09 AM by Robotbeat »
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 IsaacKuo

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #94 on: 02/24/2011 12:28 PM »
You would get a lot of bang for your buck by perfecting a technique of using impactor missiles to deflect an NEO into Earth orbit.  Small NEOs pass near Earth all the time (and indeed, they directly hit Earth all the time).

The relative velocity may be 40km/s, which means that even before you consider the impulse of the ejecta the impactor mass has an effective specific impulse of about 4000s.  The impulse of the ejecta could easily be many times more than the impulse of the impactors.

With impactors, you get to use the full mass of the deflector spacecraft--no overhead in solar arrays or electric thrusters.  You don't even need to spend delta-v to match velocities with the NEO.

Of course, there are limitations.  You wouldn't want to do this in LEO due to the space debris generated.  Nor do you get to pick and choose where exactly the incoming NEO is relative to the ecliptic.  So, the deflected NEOs will end up in somewhat arbitrary elliptical orbits with high apogee and inclination.

Offline Downix

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7087
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #95 on: 02/24/2011 03:07 PM »
You would get a lot of bang for your buck by perfecting a technique of using impactor missiles to deflect an NEO into Earth orbit.  Small NEOs pass near Earth all the time (and indeed, they directly hit Earth all the time).

The relative velocity may be 40km/s, which means that even before you consider the impulse of the ejecta the impactor mass has an effective specific impulse of about 4000s.  The impulse of the ejecta could easily be many times more than the impulse of the impactors.

With impactors, you get to use the full mass of the deflector spacecraft--no overhead in solar arrays or electric thrusters.  You don't even need to spend delta-v to match velocities with the NEO.

Of course, there are limitations.  You wouldn't want to do this in LEO due to the space debris generated.  Nor do you get to pick and choose where exactly the incoming NEO is relative to the ecliptic.  So, the deflected NEOs will end up in somewhat arbitrary elliptical orbits with high apogee and inclination.
And once captured in that manner, can use low-power orbital maneuvers to better construct the orbit.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline JohnFornaro

  • Not an expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9161
  • Delta-t is the salient metric.
  • Planet Eaarth
    • Design / Program Associates
  • Liked: 617
  • Likes Given: 320
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #96 on: 02/24/2011 03:46 PM »
JohnFornaro, I appreciate the devils-advocate position as regards the suggestions that are being shared.  Would you have any suggestions you would like to put forward to help acheive a robust human presence in near-Earth space? 

Check out my posts.  Delete the one liners, lame jokes, and snappy comebacks.  Virtually all the rest discuss my views on HSF in detail.

And speaking of snappy comebacks:

...most countries in the world don't like the idea of explosions that large which could accidentally hit their country.

True, but since "Most" is not "All", which are the few countries which, well, wouldn't mind that?

Gotta go!


Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline truth is life

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 278
  • Liked: 7
  • Likes Given: 8
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #97 on: 02/24/2011 06:43 PM »
True, but since "Most" is not "All", which are the few countries which, well, wouldn't mind that?

I would suppose the few countries that have large areas of uninhabited and unused land where a small asteroid could hit without really hitting. Canada, Russia, Australia, and several of the North African states come to mind. Maybe China or the US, too.

Offline synchrotron

  • Member
  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 299
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 13
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #98 on: 02/24/2011 07:13 PM »
True, but since "Most" is not "All", which are the few countries which, well, wouldn't mind that?

I would suppose the few countries that have large areas of uninhabited and unused land where a small asteroid could hit without really hitting. Canada, Russia, Australia, and several of the North African states come to mind. Maybe China or the US, too.

Or India.  It's not like they'd mistake it for a preemptive first strike by Pakistan or anything...

Anything over 4 mT really needs to be brought down in a controlled manner.  And by controlled, I don't mean nudged into a "keyhole" a couple days in advance.  You've got to hit 80 km in the right place and the right time to keep your probability of killing someone to less than 1 in 10,000 or better.  Unless that's the 'killer app' you're after.

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #99 on: 02/24/2011 08:11 PM »
Honestly, there's not any advantage in returning nickle-iron to earth for processing.  It would be better used to create futher infrastructure in space rather than bringing it down, only to send it back up.  We have a hard enough time keeping the existing steel industry going down here with overseas competition and recycling.

On the other hand, high value materials like platinum, etc could profitably be imported to Earth without threatening lives and property.
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #100 on: 02/24/2011 08:21 PM »
True, but since "Most" is not "All", which are the few countries which, well, wouldn't mind that?

I would suppose the few countries that have large areas of uninhabited and unused land where a small asteroid could hit without really hitting. Canada, Russia, Australia, and several of the North African states come to mind. Maybe China or the US, too.

Or India.  It's not like they'd mistake it for a preemptive first strike by Pakistan or anything...

Anything over 4 mT really needs to be brought down in a controlled manner.  And by controlled, I don't mean nudged into a "keyhole" a couple days in advance.  You've got to hit 80 km in the right place and the right time to keep your probability of killing someone to less than 1 in 10,000 or better.  Unless that's the 'killer app' you're after.
I agree. It'd need to be under positive control the whole time, though most of the delta-v could be taken care of with careful many-body orbital mechanics.

By "most" countries, I was being facetious. No one likes random 1 megaton (TNT equivalent) explosions on or above their territory.

The idea would be that you chop the 10000-20000 ton asteroid into 100 ton chunks (I don't know how feasible this would be, but I think it'd be necessary) held together by a net or something (the asteroid wouldn't be very large... probably only 15 meters on a side or something, since iron is so dense... of course, the 100 ton chunks would be even smaller) before even entering the keyhole a year or so before entry. After that, you need enough delta-v capability to cover any uncertainty in position, velocity, and forces on the asteroid before it hits Earth. The net would be cut soon before entry so that all the pieces would land in your target ellipse. Because the asteroid is actually made of smallish chunks, they would reach terminal velocity before hitting the ground, thus dissipating their of the energy in the fireball of atmospheric entry like a capsule.

And, of course, nickel wouldn't be the only thing of value on the asteroid... lesser concentrations of other minerals could be extracted as well, but I would not necessarily assume that they would contribute vastly more to the value of the asteroid, so I use the value of nickel as a stand-in for the average value of other minerals in the asteroid.

EDIT:Of course, I realize this whole plan may not be politically allowable because of (perceived or real) safety concerns.
« Last Edit: 02/24/2011 08:22 PM by Robotbeat »
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 gospacex

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3028
  • Liked: 536
  • Likes Given: 604
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #101 on: 02/24/2011 08:31 PM »
I can't imagine living without all of these critters, even if they sometimes seem to be working against my interest!  Any "new" planet will have to be "stocked" with animals, good and bad, to become an acceptable human landscape.

 - Ed Kyle

Correction. "To become an acceptable Ed Kyle landscape".

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12606
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 3489
  • Likes Given: 702
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #102 on: 02/24/2011 08:39 PM »
I can't imagine living without all of these critters, even if they sometimes seem to be working against my interest!  Any "new" planet will have to be "stocked" with animals, good and bad, to become an acceptable human landscape.

 - Ed Kyle

Correction. "To become an acceptable Ed Kyle landscape".

I'm quite certain I'm not the only person who would miss the sound of birds or bullfrogs, or who would miss fishing, or horseback riding - or walking the dog - on a new planet.  Without wildlife, or domesticated animals, it wouldn't be a human landscape!

 - Ed Kyle

Offline 93143

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3038
  • Liked: 292
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #103 on: 02/24/2011 08:54 PM »
60MWe solar array and power electronics and thrusters is huge. 1050mT of Argon is huge. 350MWe is not realistic. Especially for only a 20,000 ton asteroid which probably won't be worth more than $200 million when all is said and done.

Like I said, it's not a very large object at all.  The launch campaign would not be remotely paid back by the value of the minerals, unless it were somehow largely made up of PGMs instead of nickel.

This goes for mining it in situ as well, possibly even more considering the logistical differences...

For $200M, I very much doubt you could even drop the thing on Earth...  and it probably isn't worth it as a one-off, since objects this size already hit Earth once every 14 years or so anyway...

If you want to actually make money, you'll probably have to either wait for the infrastructure to become available cheaply in space or find a far bigger asteroid.

You could try to mine said bigger asteroid where it is, or you could use the impactor idea to move it, assuming it can take the impacts without breaking up.  Free propellant...  especially if you could design the impactors to maximize ejection of secondary material without massive shock to the asteroid's structure...

After messing with Impact:Earth, it seems to me that small 100-ton chunks could reach the ground intact from a reasonable entry angle if the metal fraction were large, but with a specific gravity of 3 I get an airburst if it enters steeper than 3ļ.  For an irregularly-shaped object like this, shallow entry would make the landing ellipse extremely large.

Also, even if your 20,000-ton asteroid were pure nickel metal, it wouldn't even represent 2% of the world's annual nickel production.  You'd have to do this a lot, and/or with much bigger objects.  I would start to worry about the odds of something going wrong, not to mention potential environmental effects...

...

I seem to like seizing on scenarios people have dismissed as implausible (like fully-propulsive Mars EDL) and trying to make them work.  For example:  Deflection of a Luna-sized object with less than a half-century of warning (posited as a hypothetical unwinnable scenario in the immediately preceding post)

On the other hand, if someone else is defending the idea, NIH sometimes kicks in and I start dissing it...

Offline 93143

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3038
  • Liked: 292
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #104 on: 02/24/2011 09:00 PM »
Oh, and:

350MWe is not realistic.

Weak.  Aren't you the one who continually pushes how awesome SEP is?  At 1 AU and 35% efficiency, that's not even a square kilometre...

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #105 on: 02/24/2011 09:16 PM »
Oh, and:

350MWe is not realistic.

Weak.  Aren't you the one who continually pushes how awesome SEP is?  At 1 AU and 35% efficiency, that's not even a square kilometre...
Not for being just part of $200 million, it isn't realistic. $200 million isn't even a Scout-class mission! And we have to have thrusters, power electronics, and launch costs, too.

SEP is a big step in capability (well, yesterday's SEP tech like the Dawn mission is only a modest step up in capability, but in the future it will become more capable and doesn't have the limit of performance that is inherent for chemical rockets), but it's not magic and won't be free... Heck, even on Earth, solar power costs at least $1/Watt. That would mean a 350MWe solar array would, just for the price of the cells without necessarily the structure, cost about $350 million (and that is an absurdly optimistic figure for space-rated cells).

EDIT:That's not to say that it would be a horrible idea to use ion thrusters to provide a lot of the delta-v... There are commercially available ion-thrusters, and it might be even preferred, since ion thrusters provide only a very small (and thus controllable) amount of impulse.
« Last Edit: 02/24/2011 09:52 PM by Robotbeat »
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 93143

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3038
  • Liked: 292
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #106 on: 02/24/2011 09:29 PM »
As my post immediately above the one you quoted said, I don't think you could do anything significant to this asteroid for $200M, nor would it be a notable boost to Earth's resource base if you did.

When I made my initial comments, I hadn't realized how small this thing was.  It's something like 60 feet across and represents on the order of 1% of annual world nickel production...

I'd try to figure out how hard it would be to move a bigger object, but I don't know how to calculate the delta-V from an impactor with ejecta...

Another note:  I don't use smileys.  It's a personal thing.
« Last Edit: 02/24/2011 09:41 PM by 93143 »

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #107 on: 02/24/2011 09:49 PM »
As my previous post said, I don't think you could do anything significant to this asteroid for $200M,
Yes, you could. If the delta-v requirement is measured in millimeters (or less) per second and not kilometers per second, you can use a far smaller and cheaper spacecraft to move it around. This is only possible, as I keep saying, by taking advantage of gravitational keyholes.
Quote
nor would it be a notable boost to Earth's resource base if you did.
That's not the point, really. The point is to try to be able to do it profitably. If it can be done profitably, it may become scalable to actually make a notable boost to Earth's resource base. But you have to make the first step. That first profitable or even nearly profitable asteroid mining effort.

Quote
I'd try to figure out how hard it would be to move a bigger object, but I don't know how to calculate the delta-V from an impactor with ejecta...

Another note:  I don't use smileys.  It's a personal thing.
If you don't note the use of sarcasm, don't be surprised if people misinterpret you. This is a text-based medium. Tone of voice (and body language) obviously does not work unless you make it work by explicitly saying you're using sarcasm, emoticons, or some other obvious method.
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 93143

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3038
  • Liked: 292
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #108 on: 02/24/2011 11:06 PM »
As my previous post said, I don't think you could do anything significant to this asteroid for $200M,
Yes, you could. If the delta-v requirement is measured in millimeters (or less) per second and not kilometers per second, you can use a far smaller and cheaper spacecraft to move it around.

So what happened to breaking it up into pieces?  With independent guidance and control, such that they can all be brought down safely within a reasonable landing ellipse without breaking up in midair, despite their irregular shapes?

Also, to actually hit that keyhole, your "smaller and cheaper" spacecraft is going to have to be pretty sophisticated, and naturally it will have to be attached to the rock, meaning a lander.  An impactor would not produce a sufficiently predictable delta-V.

As a one-off, this is not going to be under $200M.  Just guessing here, but still...
« Last Edit: 02/24/2011 11:08 PM by 93143 »

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #109 on: 02/24/2011 11:40 PM »
As my previous post said, I don't think you could do anything significant to this asteroid for $200M,
Yes, you could. If the delta-v requirement is measured in millimeters (or less) per second and not kilometers per second, you can use a far smaller and cheaper spacecraft to move it around.

So what happened to breaking it up into pieces?  With independent guidance and control, such that they can all be brought down safely within a reasonable landing ellipse without breaking up in midair, despite their irregular shapes?

Also, to actually hit that keyhole, your "smaller and cheaper" spacecraft is going to have to be pretty sophisticated, and naturally it will have to be attached to the rock, meaning a lander.  An impactor would not produce a sufficiently predictable delta-V.

As a one-off, this is not going to be under $200M.  Just guessing here, but still...
It still needs to cut it into pieces. That's a difficult thing to do. All the pieces would be netted together and the net would not be cut until the whole bag was entering the atmosphere. I don't know what the size of the ellipse would be in that case, but the landing/crashing ellipse could be limited by having a very vertical entry angle.

And no, I am not thinking about using an impactor for the delta-v.

And $200 million may be too low for a one-off, but at least the spacecraft mass could be far, far smaller than other proposals. If you could find a large, rich NEO, you wouldn't need to cut up and "reenter" the whole thing... Just cut pieces off of it, put them in a big net, and put just the net (along with a guidance system) through the gravitational keyhole.

In order to be truly profitable, it may be necessary to establish infrastructure on the asteroid. Such infrastructure may include:
*a small catapult for pushing the chunks of iron-nickel of the main asteroid so they can be collected by a small orbiting spacecraft which collects the pieces and puts them in a net
*crew quarters for the miners (they're going to have to be there for a year or so)
*smallish solar array (well, typical comm sat array size) for powering the laser cutters and miscellaneous things

But you need your first demo mission. Laser cutter and a single chunk of metal (10 tons to start with?). Guidance system for pushing the ore through the gravitational keyhole and directing it exactly to where it needs to go.
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 khallow

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1956
  • Liked: 6
  • Likes Given: 4
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #110 on: 02/25/2011 12:24 AM »
Untrue.

Could you give me a link on that one?  I really did look before I made that statement, and could not find a single under water ore mine.

Only oil and gas recovery.

In addition to savuporo's comments, there's diamond dredging.

In Lake Superior (in the US), divers hoist up a nearly pure copper boulder weighing 17 tons from a depth of 40 feet.
Karl Hallowell

Offline Solman

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 675
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 8
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #111 on: 02/25/2011 01:56 AM »


 Another tech for moving an asteroid is to use a large solar concentrator mirror to heat selected areas of the surface. I saw an experiment using the ARPL's solar furnace in which a sample rock reacted violently outgassing and shooting out bits of rock and magma when exposed to the focussed sunlight. This was suggested as a way of deflecting asteroids. Might work for mining.
 The lowest hanging fruit is the dead sats in GEO and GEO has the lowest signal latency from Earth in space allowing a 4 frames a second virtual telepresence using Robonaut type telerobots. Concentrated sunlight could provide high temp. heat and with concentrator type PV could provide electrical power.
 Perhaps some of the sat parts could be recycled or melted and rapid prototyped into parts for mining and cargo vehicles for NEO materials which could be transported to GEO for processing as desired. Of course some parts would have to be launched from Earth. The Moon could provide raw materials also.
A solar furnace doubling as a solar thermal rocket can in theory boil rock and use the oxygen for propellant. Concentrator type PV can power an electric prop. sys. but in general isn't it better if you can roughly match exhaust velocity to desired delta V?
 In general human involvement should be virtual from the ground in the early stages for economic reasons, seems to me, but human presence will be particularly desired for Lunar surface operations given the much longer signal latency for teleoperation from Earth and so it may be repairmen that return to the Moon.

Sol

Offline gospacex

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3028
  • Liked: 536
  • Likes Given: 604
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #112 on: 02/25/2011 02:07 AM »
I can't imagine living without all of these critters, even if they sometimes seem to be working against my interest!  Any "new" planet will have to be "stocked" with animals, good and bad, to become an acceptable human landscape.

 - Ed Kyle

Correction. "To become an acceptable Ed Kyle landscape".

I'm quite certain I'm not the only person who would miss the sound of birds or bullfrogs, or who would miss fishing, or horseback riding - or walking the dog - on a new planet.  Without wildlife, or domesticated animals, it wouldn't be a human landscape!

 - Ed Kyle

Again, why do you think that humans = Ed Kyle clones (emotionally)?

Do you realize that many people never heard a bullfrog and they feel perfectly fine?

And, most importantly, do you realize how much will it cost, and how long will it take after initial colonies (most likely underground cities) to make Mars inhabitable *by bullfrogs*?

My God, requiring *that* as a precondition for human habitation... Ed, I assure you, it's much simpler for people like you, who like wildlife that much, to just stay on Earth, leaving space settlements to nerds who don't mind living indefinitely in enclosed spaces, and without bullfrogs, roaches, ants, snakes...

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #113 on: 02/25/2011 02:10 AM »
You can always have zoos. That's what we do during the inhospitable winters in Minnesota. Animals are also good at turning plants into high quality protein, so I don't think we'll completely shed animals if we colonize space.
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 93143

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3038
  • Liked: 292
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #114 on: 02/25/2011 02:53 AM »
It still needs to cut it into pieces. That's a difficult thing to do.

Yes it is.

Quote
the landing/crashing ellipse could be limited by having a very vertical entry angle.

As I said before, even for pieces this small, steep entry angles produce huge peak heating and aero loads and dramatically increase the likelihood of an airburst.  High metal content helps (and directly increases revenue, obviously), but makes the cutting even more difficult.

Quote
If you could find a large, rich NEO, you wouldn't need to cut up and "reenter" the whole thing... Just cut pieces off of it, put them in a big net, and put just the net (along with a guidance system) through the gravitational keyhole.

Now that's a relatively normal mining operation.  If you can get the pieces to EDL properly without regularly-shaped cargo capsules or heat shields or anything like that, great.

What I was initially worried about was that you appeared to be proposing "mining" large NEOs by crashing them into Earth.  The current shape of what I'm getting from you is not that.

I still think that if you're going to be mining a large object for a while, it makes logistics much easier (and thus cheaper) if you park it at an EML point.  Conventional or even electric thrusters wouldn't likely be feasible for a body that large, but as others have mentioned there are ways to use the asteroid material itself as supplementary propellant.  (On the other hand, the effective Isp might be low, and you might end up needing a substantial fraction of its mass to move it.)  It might turn out to be more effective overall to invest that level of effort initially rather than putting up with long lead times and high delta-V and multi-year tours of duty for the human operators you have to have out there all the time because you can't just send them on short notice if there's a failure...

Anyway, I haven't really thought this through, but I do need to get to work on my multiphase code, so I think I'll shut up for now.
« Last Edit: 02/25/2011 02:55 AM by 93143 »

Offline KelvinZero

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3611
  • Liked: 512
  • Likes Given: 130
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #115 on: 02/25/2011 09:12 AM »
You can always have zoos. That's what we do during the inhospitable winters in Minnesota. Animals are also good at turning plants into high quality protein, so I don't think we'll completely shed animals if we colonize space.

I hope we dont try to. My own dream is that an exponential growth in living area will lead to more biodiversity than has ever existed on earth at one instant in history. This exponential growth will be underway as soon as we have one self sufficient space habitat able to build another.

We could resurrect past epochs in safe isolation. I expect within a few centuries designing species will have moved beyond science into art. Maybe we will never figure out how to resurrect a tyrannosaurus.. but watch out for those 4 meter tall turkey-cows and crocaroos :)

As for a killer app for people in space, I don't see one myself. I just see it getting easier and easier as we are weaned off earth's teat. When oil and air only exists because we manage every aspect of its creation, the question moves from 'why?' to 'why not?'

Offline Celebrimbor

  • Regular
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 415
  • Bystander
  • Brinsworth Space Centre, UK
  • Liked: 11
  • Likes Given: 6
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #116 on: 02/25/2011 10:32 AM »

Space is a child.  When we first thought of space, like newlyweds contemplating children, we assigned all kinds of impossible dreams to them.  They were all going to be Doctors... Space was going to solve all of our problems.

The child came along, and there was this time of wonder at this new life we created.  Then we hit the terrible twos, and we were both working two jobs with grandma sitting the kid... NASA's budgets got slashed and all the big plans had to be postponed... then cancelled, because as far as the public was concerned, the race was over.

Now, Space is in 10th grade, and it is time to start looking at colleges.  Space has to figure out what it wants to be that will support its parents in their old age... and, of course, it has spent the last ten years of schooling frittering away in the back of the class with its buddies, staring at the girls instead of actually learning anything...  So being a Nobel Laureate Doctor is highly unlikely.  But it can still be a productive and useful individual.


Quite brilliant!

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #117 on: 02/25/2011 01:46 PM »
...

We could resurrect past epochs in safe isolation. I expect within a few centuries designing species will have moved beyond science into art. Maybe we will never figure out how to resurrect a tyrannosaurus.. but watch out for those 4 meter tall turkey-cows and crocaroos :)
...
Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
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 edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12606
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 3489
  • Likes Given: 702
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #118 on: 02/25/2011 02:19 PM »
I can't imagine living without all of these critters, even if they sometimes seem to be working against my interest!  Any "new" planet will have to be "stocked" with animals, good and bad, to become an acceptable human landscape.

 - Ed Kyle

Correction. "To become an acceptable Ed Kyle landscape".

I'm quite certain I'm not the only person who would miss the sound of birds or bullfrogs, or who would miss fishing, or horseback riding - or walking the dog - on a new planet.  Without wildlife, or domesticated animals, it wouldn't be a human landscape!

 - Ed Kyle

Again, why do you think that humans = Ed Kyle clones (emotionally)?

Do you realize that many people never heard a bullfrog and they feel perfectly fine?

And, most importantly, do you realize how much will it cost, and how long will it take after initial colonies (most likely underground cities) to make Mars inhabitable *by bullfrogs*?

My God, requiring *that* as a precondition for human habitation... Ed, I assure you, it's much simpler for people like you, who like wildlife that much, to just stay on Earth, leaving space settlements to nerds who don't mind living indefinitely in enclosed spaces, and without bullfrogs, roaches, ants, snakes...

We're not talking about just visiting someplace off of our planet.  We're talking about starting a new planet.  Sure, there may be people willing to spend the remainder of their lives in a dead, sterile environment, but the vast majority of regular human beings would not. 

I wonder how long this Nerd Planet you describe would survive...

 - Ed Kyle

Offline IsaacKuo

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #119 on: 02/25/2011 02:38 PM »
Again, why do you think that humans = Ed Kyle clones (emotionally)?

Do you realize that many people never heard a bullfrog and they feel perfectly fine?

We're not talking about just visiting someplace off of our planet.  We're talking about starting a new planet.  Sure, there may be people willing to spend the remainder of their lives in a dead, sterile environment, but the vast majority of regular human beings would not.

I think you're speaking for yourself when you insist that a city without pests is a "dead, sterile environment".  The sort of space habitat we're talking about could be something like the stereotypical pictures of a Bernal Sphere or a Stanford Torus.  A vibrant city with grass and trees as well as lots of living breathing people.

The vast majority of regular human beings would not think "dead, sterile environment" when they see the interior of a Bernal Sphere.

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #120 on: 02/25/2011 02:53 PM »
Here is a very interesting article that addresses the very issue I started this thread to discuss and brainstorm around.

http://www.technologyreview.com/business/26263/

Quote
A habit of thinking about the engineering first and the customers second is a perennial problem in the space industry, says Jim Baker, director of the commercial-sector efforts of the Houston-based aerospace firm MEI Technologies. The industry has many times been guilty of "pushing our solutions onto a market that doesn't quite exist yet," Baker says.

That, folks, is an arrow to the heart shot... and a call to action for us to ignite our native entrepreneurial impulses.


Here is a second article from the same publication:

http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=32350&ch=computing&a=f&pw7=T
« Last Edit: 02/25/2011 03:23 PM by Cherokee43v6 »
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline IsaacKuo

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #121 on: 02/25/2011 03:56 PM »
Here is a very interesting article that addresses the very issue I started this thread to discuss and brainstorm around.

http://www.technologyreview.com/business/26263/
Quote
A habit of thinking about the engineering first and the customers second is a perennial problem in the space industry, says Jim Baker, director of the commercial-sector efforts of the Houston-based aerospace firm MEI Technologies. The industry has many times been guilty of "pushing our solutions onto a market that doesn't quite exist yet," Baker says.
That, folks, is an arrow to the heart shot... and a call to action for us to ignite our native entrepreneurial impulses.

Well, is this potential overcapacity actually a bad thing?  Imagine if this were the plan:

A) Upon realizing that the Shuttle program was coming to an end soon and Constellation development wasn't going well, the (monolithic, rational, and competent) US Government decides to scattershot its bets.

B) While expensive, the US Government puts a lot of eggs in a lot of baskets, hoping that at least one of them succeeds in a timely manner.

C) It turns out that several of them succeed, resulting in an overcapacity.

If that were the plan, then surely that doesn't look too bad compared to the alternatives, right?

I'm just saying--even if everyone knew that demand was going to be limited to X amount of capacity for the ISS and commercial satellites and such, an overcapacity may be part of a rational plan.

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #122 on: 02/25/2011 04:09 PM »
The problem is that the overcapacity won't last because without launches, the excess capacity will go away.  We're looking at a case of 'use it or lose it'. 

To me, the important question is how do we utilize this capacity so that it does not go away?

Space tourism and playing FedEx/American Airlines for the ISS will only go so far. 
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline IsaacKuo

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #123 on: 02/25/2011 08:18 PM »
The problem is that the overcapacity won't last because without launches, the excess capacity will go away.  We're looking at a case of 'use it or lose it'. 

To me, the important question is how do we utilize this capacity so that it does not go away?

Well, there is no magical demand generator.  The anticipated reductions in launch costs may improve demand a little bit, but not in a game changing way.

If you want to increase demand soon enough to make a difference (like, the next decade or so), then you need a political movement to boost funding levels.  Forget about space mining or space tourism.  Space mining would take many years to pan out, at best.  Space tourism is too expensive by a couple orders of magnitude.

(And while I advocate eventual space colonization someday, it's not something that's going to happen with this next generation of space launchers.)

So, what are some "killer apps" that could save the new generation of space launchers from marketplace culling?

Asteroid Defense

One possibility I suggested is asteroid defense.  This provides a clear benefit to life here on Earth, potentially making it politically easier to garner higher budgets.

An asteroid defense program will involve launching numerous small interceptor missiles to HEO, to deflect the sort of small NEOs that pass nearby all the time.  These NEOs aren't collision threats; even if by some accident one is deflected straight for Earth, it'll just burn up in the atmosphere.

Pro: Clearly useful application
Con: Conventional wisdom is that space robots don't get the bucks of manned spaceflight missions

Space Station Evolution

Another possibility might be a next generation space station designed around eventual use as an exploration vehicle like Nautilus-X rather than a microgravity research station.  This space station won't spend its entire lifetime hugging the Earth, but will rather leave someday for the Moon, an NEO, or Mars.

Pro: Appeals to popular imagation of manned space exploration
Pro: Puts something up there sooner than later
Con: Unclear how this is supposed to be more successful at drumming up funding than Constellation

Space Radar

Who has the biggest budget?  The US military, of course.  While Congress seems to have lost interest in Space Radar, it's not inconceivable to turn it around.  The sort of system suitable for global real time tracking would certainly be expensive and involve a lot of big heavy satellites.

Pro: Big budgets possible in military
Con: Space Radar program not doing well so far

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #124 on: 02/25/2011 09:23 PM »
The government is the only magic demand generator. And the magic ingredient to unlocking unlimited demand generation is war.

What we need is a war against some space bugs.
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 IsaacKuo

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #125 on: 02/25/2011 09:29 PM »
The government is the only magic demand generator. And the magic ingredient to unlocking unlimited demand generation is war.

What we need is a war against some space bugs.

There are no space bugs to wage war against, but there are true space threats (Earth impactor asteroids, comets) and there are military applications which could require oodles of satellites (Space Based Radar, Brilliant Pebbles, Project Thor).

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #126 on: 02/25/2011 09:43 PM »
The government is the only magic demand generator. And the magic ingredient to unlocking unlimited demand generation is war.

What we need is a war against some space bugs.

There are no space bugs to wage war against, but there are true space threats (Earth impactor asteroids, comets) and there are military applications which could require oodles of satellites (Space Based Radar, Brilliant Pebbles, Project Thor).
War is the main reason we're in space. Without WWII, without the Cold War, without the military application of rockets for the last several centuries... There'd be no spaceflight.

Definitely true there are no space bugs to wage war against. And nobody seems too worried about killer space rocks... Until we get hit with a big one, that is.
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 majormajor42

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 525
  • Liked: 43
  • Likes Given: 221
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #127 on: 02/25/2011 10:56 PM »
Well, you are both addressing the same motivator, FEAR.  Fear seems to be a great way to drum up money. But it is better for short term objectives than long term. Not sure what that threshold is but it is a lot easier to lobby money for crime fighting and jails, based on the fear of criminals, than other longer term strategies that might prevent youngsters from choosing the criminal path in the first place.

It is a lot easier to legislate money for fighting terrorism than spending on some other sort of strategy that might prevent that angst in the first place.

Fear of the long term consequences of a large federal deficit may finally being taking root. Even though it has been discussed for decades, it is finally being taken seriously, I think, because the consequence might be nearer term than people thought. We'll see.

Right now, there is no short term fear among the general populace of some sort of consequence of an underfunded space program. Many other folks, besides space advocates, are lobbying for our money and making a better argument about what is at stake. We can only hope that NASA maintains the funding levels that they have.

Nobody wants a devastating threat that would necessitate a dramatic growth of funding for aerospace. You are both right that War, whether it is space bugs or an adversary like the USSR, or natural threats could create that fear that loosens the purse strings. I'm not sure if it would necessarily lead toward greater funding for HSF. But, even if it did benefit the space program, I really don't want a legitimate reason to fear something again. I remember fearing nuclear war as a child in the 80s and I think most Americans could do without the fear felt by all for the years after 9/11. I don't want to go through that again.

So I guess I'm hoping that the answer to "Why Space?" is not based on some sort of short term threat.
« Last Edit: 02/25/2011 10:59 PM by majormajor42 »
...water is life and it is out there, where we intend to go. I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man or machine on a body such as the Moon and harvest a cup of water for a human to drink or process into fuel for their craft.

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12606
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 3489
  • Likes Given: 702
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #128 on: 02/25/2011 11:30 PM »
Again, why do you think that humans = Ed Kyle clones (emotionally)?

Do you realize that many people never heard a bullfrog and they feel perfectly fine?

We're not talking about just visiting someplace off of our planet.  We're talking about starting a new planet.  Sure, there may be people willing to spend the remainder of their lives in a dead, sterile environment, but the vast majority of regular human beings would not.

I think you're speaking for yourself when you insist that a city without pests is a "dead, sterile environment".  The sort of space habitat we're talking about could be something like the stereotypical pictures of a Bernal Sphere or a Stanford Torus.  A vibrant city with grass and trees as well as lots of living breathing people.

The vast majority of regular human beings would not think "dead, sterile environment" when they see the interior of a Bernal Sphere.

How do you grow gardens, or crop fields, without biotic pollination?
http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/documents/factsheet_pollinator.pdf

Is a bee a "pest"?  What about "hummingbirds, bats, and small mammals such as mice .... insects like beetles, ... ants, wasps, butterflies and moths"?

Who gets to decide what a pest is and is not? 

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 02/25/2011 11:32 PM by edkyle99 »

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #129 on: 02/25/2011 11:39 PM »
Majormajor42:
That's the problem with human beings... We rarely rise to greatness except for fear. And greed for power (though this far more often applies to greedy individuals who then use fear to acquire power for themselves).

Remember that wealth is also predicated on fear... Without fear, a creditor would not be able to collect from a debtor, and basically all great wealth is based on someone else's debt. It's fear of the police or private security or (sometimes) God that keeps the desperately poor from just taking from the rich. Anyways, this is just human nature.

Fear is almost always a necessary ingredient for greatness. How were the Great Pyramids built? (Fear of death, fear also kept the builders enslaved) How were the Saturn Vs built? Greed also works... How was the Burj Dubai (Khalifa) built? The Chrystler building?

Love can work, as well. Love for a deceased wife built the Taj Mahal. Love (and fear) for God built the Cathedrals.

Fear, then greed (and/or love of power... the same thing), then love (of knowledge, of individuals, of mankind, of nature, of God/gods). Those are the motivators of greatness.

How do we bring these motivators to bear on Space?

Fear is the most potent. Killer asteroids. Global warming/cooling. War (surveillance, mutually assured destruction, antiballistic missile technology, GPS).

Greed is also potent. This is commercial space exploration. Tourism. Mining. Communications. Resource exploration/mapping.

Love is a motivator, as well... Love of knowledge/nature (Hubble, exploration). Love of God (some examples of individuals being motivated in this way... RSpeck, for instance... mostly historical examples regarding other frontiers). Love of humanity (space settlements?). Love of individuals (no examples for space that I can remember).

EDIT:One more: Hunger. Hunger (or thirst or lack of shelter or need of air, etc) is a great motivator. Hunger and fear are the very lowest motivators. Hunger is sort of an anti-motivator for space, for the most part... Generally not much food, air, (liquid) water, or shelter in space unless you bring it from Earth.
« Last Edit: 02/25/2011 11:46 PM by Robotbeat »
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 kraisee

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10481
  • Liked: 405
  • Likes Given: 19
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #130 on: 02/25/2011 11:47 PM »
Who gets to decide what a pest is and is not?

Not me, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that some species will be chosen ahead of others.

The best aspect to growing things (plants and animals) in space, is that you get to be very specific about which species you bring with you and which you choose to leave behind.

Ants, butterflies, worms, bees, fish, small birds, chickens and maybe even sheep are some of the more obvious candidates to try to bring into such a new environment, because they all produce obvious benefits.   Less likely to make the cut are creatures like cockroaches, aphids, wasps, scorpions, poisonous spiders, poisonous snakes, rats, horses and hippo's! :)

But in space, we will get the unique opportunity to not just control, but to actively *design* the environment around us.   And as O'Neill pointed out back in the day, if you ever find that one of your garden modules does get infested with something really nasty by accident, all you have to do is vent it to vacuum, expose the module to pure sunlight and remove the rad shielding for a week.   The lack of oxygen, combined with the extremes of temperature and also the radiation environment will thoroughly sterilize any soil you have, without doing any permanent harm to it.   Once you button the system back up again, you can re-plant and try another mix of species, without fear of contamination from the previous attempt.

It will probably take a while to find some really good combinations, but it will be done, sooner or later.   I can even imagine it becoming a sought-after "art" in some circles.

Ross.
« Last Edit: 02/25/2011 11:55 PM by kraisee »
"The meek shall inherit the Earth -- the rest of us will go to the stars"
-Robert A. Heinlein

Offline KelvinZero

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3611
  • Liked: 512
  • Likes Given: 130
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #131 on: 02/25/2011 11:49 PM »

We're not talking about just visiting someplace off of our planet.  We're talking about starting a new planet.  Sure, there may be people willing to spend the remainder of their lives in a dead, sterile environment, but the vast majority of regular human beings would not. 

I wonder how long this Nerd Planet you describe would survive...

 - Ed Kyle

This could go a bit off track. I think the original point was about a habitable planet being a killer app which is different from crewing a realistic base (and eventually colony).

To pull in the average joe, and power the growth into space by the sheer number of people willing to go on a one way trip, you probably need a habitable planet with .. well i dunno if I would particularly miss the bullfrogs, but whatever.

This is simply different from what will certainly actually happen, a very small outpost moving gradually closer to self sufficiency, with under a thousand people selected from all the billions of earth, and with plenty of time to select further for those who actually end up staying as opposed to a 2 year visit..

I think we are discussing the killer app specifically and not this second more reasonable case, because the killer app is closer to the topic: what can start our "space-rush"?

Offline Robert Thompson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1117
  • Liked: 82
  • Likes Given: 658
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #132 on: 02/26/2011 01:27 AM »
The killer ap is to realize there is no killer ap.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #133 on: 02/26/2011 02:39 PM »
I forgot one motivation: the desire to create, procreate (not the animal sexual desire). This might be related to love, but it's a strong desire almost independent of the others...

This is also, ultimately, the most important motivator for space.
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 IsaacKuo

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #134 on: 02/26/2011 05:23 PM »
Well, you are both addressing the same motivator, FEAR.

Earth impactors are a threat which needs to be addressed, regardless of whether or not one fears it.  Fear is not necessary because it is a threat which we can definitely solve.  It's not like the threat of earthquakes or volcanoes, which we may or may not ever be able to predict/prevent.  We can expect the eventual capability for 100% defense, given sufficient resources.  The only question is how long it will take to get there, and how expensive it will be.
Quote
So I guess I'm hoping that the answer to "Why Space?" is not based on some sort of short term threat.

Earth impactors aren't a short term threat (so far as we know).  They are a long term threat.

Offline IsaacKuo

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #135 on: 02/26/2011 05:39 PM »
I think you're speaking for yourself when you insist that a city without pests is a "dead, sterile environment".  The sort of space habitat we're talking about could be something like the stereotypical pictures of a Bernal Sphere or a Stanford Torus.  A vibrant city with grass and trees as well as lots of living breathing people.

How do you grow gardens, or crop fields, without biotic pollination?
http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/documents/factsheet_pollinator.pdf

Is a bee a "pest"?  What about "hummingbirds, bats, and small mammals such as mice .... insects like beetles, ... ants, wasps, butterflies and moths"?

Who gets to decide what a pest is and is not?

Does it really matter exactly who decides, to your argument?  Plausibly, some panel of scientists and engineers regulate and manage the ecosystem of free roaming species within the main habitat.  Ultimately, they would answer to some form of government; this government may ultimately answer to the people...who may be the inhabitants or it may be the inhabitants plus the people of a country on Earth, or...well, does it matter to this discussion?  The point is, someone decides what is a pest and what is not a pest.  Pests are not allowed into the habitat and/or exterminated.

Whoever exactly decides, honeybees are probably allowed.  Compared to other pollinators, honeybees are efficient and low impact.  Furthermore, they also produce honey--surely a popular product on board a space habitat with a limited variety of foods (compared to cities on Earth).

The bottom line is that species which are considered desirable aren't "pests".

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #136 on: 02/26/2011 06:10 PM »
On the list of motivation emotions, you missed out on Hunger for Knowledge.  Also, you pulled a Pandora.  Hope for something better can also be a motivator for moving outward.  After-all, for the last century, it has been the hope to embrace and become part of the American Dream that has driven the legal and illegal immigration into the United States.

I think that perhaps the idea of a single 'Killer App' is a bit more than we can expect.  I mean, it would be awesome if we managed to come up with one, but barring Divine intervention, we are unlikely to see anything like that prior to having already established the robust human presence we seem to want it to help establish.

A robust presence doesn't call for one thing that drives tens or hundreds of launches.  A robust presence calls for many many things that drive several to tens of launches each.

It's not about 'it', singular.  Its about 'those', plural inclusive.

Tourism won't do it alone.
Government won't do it alone.
Solar Power Sats won't do it alone.
Science missions won't do it alone.
Asteroid and Planetary human exploration won't do it alone.
Establishing and maintaining Lunar bases won't do it alone.
Orbital commercial biomedical research won't do it alone.

But wait, why does one of these have to dominate?  This is a fairly robust list already... and surely we can come up with more small projects!

What we need now is a D. D. Harriman.  Elon Musk has stepped into part of the role, with his launch company, but the question now is "Who is going to sell the Moon?"
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline KelvinZero

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3611
  • Liked: 512
  • Likes Given: 130
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #137 on: 02/27/2011 07:10 AM »
Hi Cherokee, IMO government sponsored things like science missions help, but just to keep things bubbling away. Without that and a satellite launch industry the leap to one of these other ideas becoming viable may be just too far for even a multibillion dollar company.

I think it is valid to consider a single killer app. This doesn't mean an application a hundred times better than any or all others, it is just the first business case that can reach that break even point where its profits can be turned into growth and therefore larger profits and more growth etc. If it can manage a few percent growth a year like other businesses, and is open ended like tourism and SSP might possibly be, that is enough to be a killer app.

Offline Robert Thompson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1117
  • Liked: 82
  • Likes Given: 658
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #138 on: 02/27/2011 01:33 PM »
I admit I never heard of Diamandis before I went looking for new TED talks. Perhaps these predictions converge to reality, perhaps they fall very far behind...
2005, 15 min, http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/peter_diamandis_on_our_next_giant_leap.html
2006, 20 mins, http://www.ted.com/talks/burt_rutan_sees_the_future_of_space.html
2008, 4 mins, http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/peter_diamandis_on_stephen_hawking_in_zero_g.html

[science provokes quest, so I include these:
2009, 3 mins, http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/carolyn_porco_could_a_saturn_moon_harbor_life.html
2009, 16 mins, http://www.ted.com/talks/joel_levine.html
2010, 7 mins, http://www.ted.com/talks/carter_emmart_demos_a_3d_atlas_of_the_universe.html]

Offline JohnFornaro

  • Not an expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9161
  • Delta-t is the salient metric.
  • Planet Eaarth
    • Design / Program Associates
  • Liked: 617
  • Likes Given: 320
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #139 on: 02/27/2011 03:07 PM »
By "most" countries, I was being facetious.

I knew that.  I was thinking that the list would include....  well, Elbonia for starters...

But seriously, I can't consider dropping an asteroid to Eaarth's surface seriously, particularly if the cargo is nickle, and even if it should be gold, or palladium.  As to the idea that there might be "perceived" safety concerns, this is to laugh, and not an indication, by my reading, that this idea could be taken seriously.  But carry on, if you all will.

I can't imagine living without all of these critters ... to become an acceptable human landscape.

Correction. "To become an acceptable Ed Kyle landscape".

This is a "correction"?  I've made the comment before, that the Powers That Be may possibly have an intention for humanity to stay on planet for the time being, and perhaps with good reason.  The action of rushing off to colonize space should not be taken at all if sound reasoning should be abandoned.  The sterile, dead lifescape that I immediately imagine after reading that "correction", makes me seriously consider that staying on planet may be necessary until better thinking can be demonstrated.

As to the "analysis" suggesting that the sound of bullfrogs is inadequate to provide pleasure to many people, fine, as far as the limited distance which it goes.  There is NSoV to live in the early settlements, which will be necessarily sterile.  It would be incorrect to lose sight of the idea that colonization should properly include large numbers of people, most of which would prefer to minimize the sterility as much as possible.  Fixating on "bullfrogs" or other simple things is a shallow analysis.  Suggesting that the issue of familiar Earth environments necessarily leads to a "pre-condition" for human habitation, is fundamentally an erroneous analysis.

Ed hits the nail on the head: "Who gets to decide what a pest is and is not?"  The Nerd Planet briefly described would probably devolve into a "Lord of the Flies" dystopia fairly quickly, because its leaders would lead by a compulsion based on an inadequately broad world view.

...if you ever find that one of your garden modules does get infested with something really nasty by accident, all you have to do is vent it to vacuum, expose the module to pure sunlight and remove the rad shielding for a week.   The lack of oxygen, combined with the extremes of temperature and also the radiation environment will thoroughly sterilize any soil you have, without doing any permanent harm to it.   Once you button the system back up again, you can re-plant and try another mix of species, without fear of contamination from the previous attempt.

So true, but I think more of living permanently on a planet's surface, say Mars.  Here, I would say, bring up 20 tons of dirt from Earth.  Start planting your corn, and learn to deal with it, as a farmer does here.  Rather than analyze the soil to no end, start planting and growing stuff.  The Earthly soil would be the feeder stock to fertilize the martian soil.  Quit treating biodiversity as an enemy, killing every creature that isn't "politically correct".  Kill the bugs that are eating your corn and keep moving. Don't make this bug or that bug the end of the colony.

Quote
Plausibly, some panel of scientists and engineers regulate and manage the ecosystem of free roaming species within the main habitat.

Vie, hex!  Keep your laws off my habitat!

Quote
It's not about 'it', singular.  Its about 'those', plural inclusive.

This is clearly true.  The space economy will build slowly but surely, due to a number of individual efforts.  But our government should carefully, appropirately, and consistently provide the seed money to create this economy.  Sadly, the current failure of Constellation has wasted many years and dollars.  The current debate over SLS has many obvious flaws for the future; the main one currently seems to be that "business as usual" might continue to be the practice, which will result in more program failure if it is not stopped.



I'm all for mining asteroids.  I believe that the correct process would be to do the mining there, and take the ingots to the Moon or wherever the manufacturing will be taking place.  Move the good stuff, leave all the detritus aside.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline TyMoore

  • Veteran
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 482
  • Eureka, CA, USA
  • Liked: 2
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #140 on: 02/27/2011 04:08 PM »
Just a few comments:

1) Regarding pests and habitats: there are plenty of microbes that live in soil that live symbiotically with healthy plants. Soil is a living medium, and cannot be easily duplicated. You can't just shovel native Mars regolith into a can, pressurize it and then expect to grow much of anything...

2) Cutting up nickel iron asteroids: use some of your propulsion power (if using nuclear or solar electric propulsion) to energize a linear accelerator. A relatively modest beam current with energetic electrons can cleanly cut through rock and metal with ease. Cubing up a nickel-iron asteroid tens of meters across with a 1 MW linear accelerator shouldn't be too hard. You also don't need to sharpen or replace your 'saw blade.' And you don't need a cutting fluid.

3) Don't put the asteroid into low earth orbit. Process the material either insitu or bring to an intermediate location. The goal is to reduce the amount of material brought back to reduce overall reaction mass consumption. The need for transportation infrastructure for mining can be directly applied to asteroid deflection.

4) We are definitely putting the cart before the horse when discussing asteroid mining. Creating a supply of something, even a mineral, does not automatically create demand. So bringing thousands of tons of nickel or iron down the surface of the earth is pointless. Bringing down tens or hundreds of tons of platinum group metals on the other hand satisfies a demand that is already high thanks to catalytic converters.

5) Any industrial transportation infrastructure created will need reaction mass. Mining dormant comet nuclei, or processing asteroids rich in ice or volatiles is a must. Thus the first really big spaceships will probably be water tankers. And you're going to need thousands of tons per year for any substantial transportation infrastructure. That won't come cheap.

6) Barring some incredible breakthrough in propulsion that has us zipping up to orbit Millennium Falcon-style, we are going to have to build the necessary infrastructure bit by bit. It will be expensive. It will never be easy. And it will be dangerous. Those are the facts governed by Mr. Tsiokolvsky's rocket equation.


Offline IsaacKuo

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #141 on: 02/27/2011 04:17 PM »
Ed hits the nail on the head: "Who gets to decide what a pest is and is not?"  The Nerd Planet briefly described would probably devolve into a "Lord of the Flies" dystopia fairly quickly, because its leaders would lead by a compulsion based on an inadequately broad world view.
It's no different from a typical city, which generally manage to NOT devolve into a "Lord of the Flies" dystopia.
Quote
Plausibly, some panel of scientists and engineers regulate and manage the ecosystem of free roaming species within the main habitat.

Vie, hex!  Keep your laws off my habitat!

Fine, you go ahead and live in some deserted island habitat, then.  The majority of us humans live in cities, which have laws and employees to regulate the animal, plant, and microbe species within the city.  (Regulated species include pests, weeds, infectious diseases, and so on.)

There are cities which have little or no control over these things, but they're not pleasant places to live.

Offline IsaacKuo

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 435
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #142 on: 02/27/2011 04:31 PM »
On the list of motivation emotions, you missed out on Hunger for Knowledge.

The hunger for knowledge has a limited budget.  Which is fine, but it's not going to incredibly increase within a decade.

It's not about 'it', singular.  Its about 'those', plural inclusive.

Tourism won't do it alone.
Government won't do it alone.
Solar Power Sats won't do it alone.
Science missions won't do it alone.
Asteroid and Planetary human exploration won't do it alone.
Establishing and maintaining Lunar bases won't do it alone.
Orbital commercial biomedical research won't do it alone.

But wait, why does one of these have to dominate?  This is a fairly robust list already... and surely we can come up with more small projects!

A nice list of projects, but they compete with each other for the same limited budget.  All of the above, with the exception of space tourism, are purely government funded projects within the next decade.

(There is no orbital commercial biomedical research, but it's certainly possible that government could be lobbied to spend money on it.)

You're asking us for a massive increase in demand ASAP, to somehow save the upcoming generation of launchers from insufficient demand.

Offline gospacex

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3028
  • Liked: 536
  • Likes Given: 604
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #143 on: 02/27/2011 05:59 PM »
I can't imagine living without all of these critters ... to become an acceptable human landscape.

Correction. "To become an acceptable Ed Kyle landscape".

This is a "correction"?  I've made the comment before, that the Powers That Be may possibly have an intention for humanity to stay on planet for the time being, and perhaps with good reason.

Humanity is very big. You'll have hard time keeping 100.00% of it on Earth. How exactly do you plan to do that? By making spaceflight illegal?

Quote
The action of rushing off to colonize space should not be taken at all if sound reasoning should be abandoned.

I sure hope neither you nor anyone else will be able to curtail freedom for *others* to go and colonize space, just because the reasoning to do so looks unsound to *you*.

Quote
The sterile, dead lifescape that I immediately imagine after reading that "correction", makes me seriously consider that staying on planet may be necessary until better thinking can be demonstrated.

Sure. You, Ed and a few billions can stay.

"What, living in an underground Mars base? No grass? No cats? No dogs? Bare rock walls, air and water which smells regenerated!? Naw, I am not going!!!" - that's you.

"*THIS* *IS* *COOL*" - a nerd-engineer boring a new gallery into the flank on Mount Olympus, in order to extend the underground Mars base. That same base which has bare rock walls, air and water which smells regenerated, and is populated by people who thinks it's cool to be on Mars, even in such a base.

After a few centuries Mars bases will become so big, so extensive and so well-developed that they will have gardens, lakes, cats, dogs and such, people like you can live on Mars and feel ok, no problem with that.

Well, there is one.

"Nerd engineers" will be boring underground caverns in Vesta, Callisto and Titan mountains by then.
« Last Edit: 02/27/2011 06:03 PM by gospacex »

Online Jim Davis

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 533
  • Liked: 99
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #144 on: 02/27/2011 09:48 PM »
You'll have hard time keeping 100.00% of it on Earth.

What's been keeping you on Earth all this time? Do you see that changing anytime soon?

Offline Solman

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 675
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 8
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #145 on: 02/27/2011 10:29 PM »
Hi Cherokee, IMO government sponsored things like science missions help, but just to keep things bubbling away. Without that and a satellite launch industry the leap to one of these other ideas becoming viable may be just too far for even a multibillion dollar company.

I think it is valid to consider a single killer app. This doesn't mean an application a hundred times better than any or all others, it is just the first business case that can reach that break even point where its profits can be turned into growth and therefore larger profits and more growth etc. If it can manage a few percent growth a year like other businesses, and is open ended like tourism and SSP might possibly be, that is enough to be a killer app.

 Agree with your point that a potential killer app need not be radically better but rather valid from a business perspective.
 In thinking about this years ago I decided that the best course of action was to first take inventory of what resources were most available and design a development plan around that. The dead payloads in GEO are the most accessible potential ISRU material and they are close to each other in terms of delta V required to gather them together. The sunlight is almost constant in GEO and signal latency is low so telepresence is high quality.
 A telerobot gives you a human on site (actually better since it can work 24/7 and is more dextrous than an EVA astronaut ) and focused sunlight with fiberoptics gives you a cutting torch. A solar furnace can melt parts down and a rapid prototyping machine can make parts for the telerobot to assemble.
 The first potentially killer app would I guess be transporting payloads from LEO to GEO using the aluminum as propellant for a solar thermal rocket engine ( which is basically a solar furnace with an exhaust nozzle ) and the ability to rendezvous and grab that is essential to use GEO reoiurces in the first place.
 Some payloads such as military or weather sats may be repairable for profit as well and an early killer app may be carrying upgrade modules for existing comsats and leveraging the high quality telepresence to install new equipment into sats not originally designed for it.
 The key is to begin with a system that can minimize initial investment and make the best use of what's there to expand to NEO's and the Moon with minimal ongoing material shipped from Earth while making money from the earliest stage. I believe modest sized solar thermal rocket powered OTV telerobots offer the best chance of doing that.

Sol   

Offline kraisee

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10481
  • Liked: 405
  • Likes Given: 19
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #146 on: 02/27/2011 10:56 PM »
All of this is interesting mental exercises, but nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING is going to happen until one of two things happen first:

1) The government decides to spend a whole lot more than they have been doing.

or

2) The cost to access space drops to the point that regular companies can realistically afford to get involved.


With the continuing doldrums of the economy giving way only to decades of deficit reduction measures, I don't see option 1 happening at all.   If anything, I see government space spending being cut, cut and cut again over the next decade.

So number 2 is our only real hope.   And so far, even Space-X can't get the costs down to the level we need to see any serious increases in activity in space.   The landscape, the dynamic, the paradigm or whatever you want to call it, has got to change in terms of cost for space access.   And it has to change far more radically than we have ever seen before.   Only then, will any of these grandiose plans stand the slightest chance of attaining funding.   And without funding, not one single plan here will ever leave the discussion boards or the power-point slides.

Ross.
« Last Edit: 02/27/2011 10:58 PM by kraisee »
"The meek shall inherit the Earth -- the rest of us will go to the stars"
-Robert A. Heinlein

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #147 on: 02/27/2011 11:44 PM »
It's not about 'it', singular.  Its about 'those', plural inclusive.

Tourism won't do it alone.
Government won't do it alone.
Solar Power Sats won't do it alone.
Science missions won't do it alone.
Asteroid and Planetary human exploration won't do it alone.
Establishing and maintaining Lunar bases won't do it alone.
Orbital commercial biomedical research won't do it alone.

But wait, why does one of these have to dominate?  This is a fairly robust list already... and surely we can come up with more small projects!

A nice list of projects, but they compete with each other for the same limited budget.  All of the above, with the exception of space tourism, are purely government funded projects within the next decade.

And therein lies the trap.  We've stood as pigs at the government feed-trough for so long that we've forgotten how to be wild boars and go rout out our own resources as one of the most feared omnivores in the wild.

The government didn't build the railroads.
The government didn't build the clipper ships.
The government doesn't build the oil tankers.
(I can't say the government doesn't make cars anymore.)

The government funded the creation of the internet, but then they stepped back and released it into the wild... Timeframe for that??? Twenty-five years (1968-1993).  Yet here we are 53 years into the post-Sputnik space age and we are only just now starting to see commercialization of launch capabilities begin to take off.  Why?  Because the government has a built-in incentive to resist commercialization, namely the huge rocket building jobs programs that they've funded since the 1960's.    NASA should not have been in the space-launch business at all after the 1960s, but rockets were 'militarily critical technology' and so only government was allowed to do rockets.

It's only because the populace got scared by the loss of a second shuttle that the Congress was willing to sign the law ending the program.  We bemoan the ending of this program without a replacement, yet at the same time, it creates an opportunity.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and once unbottled, you cannot rebottle the genie.

Americans want and expect American's to be in space.  Folks like Elon Musk and Robert Bigelow have found sufficient resources to prove that you do not have to have billion dollar budgets to fly space hardware.  Like the wild boar, they chose to forage and they are showing success for doing so.  Both companies are models for how NASA should work.  Researching and evaluating new technologies and then moving them to the private sector for development and implementation. 

I therefore ask... Why do the items on the list have to compete with one another?  Is it because we can only get money to do it from the government?  If that is the case, and we feel like we have to wait for daddy-government-bucks to buy it for us, do we then even deserve to be out there?  There are guys on Wall Street taking home enough money in bonuses this year alone to buy and launch a Bigelow Sundancer (based on stated pricing).  Companies spend tens of Millions just to slap their name on a building that's used on 20 days out of 365 in the year.  Hollywood regularly comes up with hundreds of millions to spend on much more speculative returns than space can give. Why not present plans to people like them?

Space is hard, and it will take hard people to bend it to human needs.  Hard people don't wait for things to be bought for them, they find the resources and do the job.
« Last Edit: 02/28/2011 12:03 AM by Cherokee43v6 »
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline JohnFornaro

  • Not an expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9161
  • Delta-t is the salient metric.
  • Planet Eaarth
    • Design / Program Associates
  • Liked: 617
  • Likes Given: 320
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #148 on: 02/28/2011 01:14 AM »
The Nerd Planet briefly described would probably devolve into a "Lord of the Flies" dystopia fairly quickly, because its leaders would lead by a compulsion based on an inadequately broad world view.
It's no different from a typical city, which generally manage to NOT devolve into a "Lord of the Flies" dystopia.

My mistake.  I thought the previous discussion was of an off-planet city, devoid of the vast majority of varied life in a typical Eaarth city, in that it would be run by a panel of scientists and engineers, and the citizenry would be from a similar subset of the human stock.

Furthermore, you have either forgotten, or else you have not noticed, that I continue to call for a colonization plan which includes a path towards political independence.

But let me back up to the beginning of the thread, which speculated on what the colony would have been line had we stayed, and why we havenít been back.  I thought we might have 100K people up there, clamoring for political independence by now.  It would have been exactly this clamoring which would have presented a probably insurmountable political problem back here on Earth, so the idea was never pushed by the rich and powerful, especially since thereís not much of value up there.  Had the Moon been made of cheese, or gold, or had we discovered TMA-2, things would have been drastically different, and a political solution would have been found.

I see no reason to change my mind about colonization and will continue to work towards bringing it about.

Quote from: Isaac
Quote
Plausibly, some panel of scientists and engineers regulate and manage the ecosystem of free roaming species within the main habitat.

Vie, hex!  Keep your laws off my habitat!

Fine, you go ahead and live in some deserted island habitat, then.  The majority of us humans live in cities, which have laws and employees to regulate the animal, plant, and microbe species within the city.  (Regulated species include pests, weeds, infectious diseases, and so on.)

You present me with an alternative not of my choice.  I'm pretty much presenting my preference for terrestrial cities; by a logic that is unclear to me, it is now suggested that I must live in the "deserted island" habitat.  I seem to have run afoul of the regulating and managing panel, since, I guess, I'm questioning their likely ability to "regulate" as I see fit.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em.  And speaking of smoking 'em....

This is a "correction"?

Humanity is very big. You'll have hard time keeping 100.00% of it on Earth. How exactly do you plan to do that? By making spaceflight illegal?

Actually, I don't seem to have to do anything to keep 'em on the home planet.  I haven't had to lift a finger yet to prevent the exodus.  In fact, about 12 of 'em are in LEO today, with my approval, certainly.  Not sure if there's a logical thread at all leading to the conclusion that I am somehow thwarting a colonization effort.

Quote from: JF
The action of rushing off to colonize space should not be taken at all if sound reasoning should be abandoned.

Quote
I sure hope neither you nor anyone else will be able to curtail freedom for *others* to go and colonize space, just because the reasoning to do so looks unsound to *you*.

You would grant me powers that I would not have.  Should future space colonists succeed in their efforts by industrious use of unsound reasoning, I will raise an eyebrow for sure.  However, I would not curtail another person's efforts at all.  Curtail a government?  Well, yes.

Quote from: JF
The sterile, dead lifescape that I immediately imagine after reading that "correction", makes me seriously consider that staying on planet may be necessary until better thinking can be demonstrated.

Quote
Sure. You, Ed and a few billions can stay.

Not sure if I want to say thanks for the suggestion, but if the lunar outpost gets built the way I want it to be built, I will certainly find a way to visit.  Doesn't mean that I would want to live there and it simply cannot be reasoned and then concluded that I would compel another to comply with my personal preferences in this regard.

Quote
After a few centuries Mars bases will become so big, so extensive and so well-developed that they will have gardens, lakes, cats, dogs and such, people like you can live on Mars and feel ok, no problem with that.

You speak with a fair amount of certainty about the future some centuries hence.  Like I said, smoke 'em if you got 'em.

All of this is interesting mental exercises, but nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING is going to happen until one of two things happen first:

1) The government decides to spend a whole lot more than they have been doing.

or

2) The cost to access space drops to the point that regular companies can realistically afford to get involved.

Even tho I agree with you, I also disagree.  I disagree with the idea that number 2 is our only hope. 

I continue to think that since our government is theoretically able to change its priorities as we citizens direct, that the possibility of a sound governmental support of a colonization plan to span generations is realistic.  I don't need a primer on all that needs to change in order for that to happen.  And certainly the operating costs need to drop a lot.  I dont' think that there's any way to get around the huge capital expenditures necessary for the creation of the necessary infrastructure.  The companies will have to adopt a multi-generational profit expectation, for one thing.

My disagreement is really only that I think both things need to happen, in the right proportions.

Yet here we are 53 years into the post-Sputnik space age and we are only just now starting to see commercialization of launch capabilities begin to take off.  Why?  Because the government has a built-in incentive to resist commercialization, namely the huge rocket building jobs programs that they've funded since the 1960's.

Possibly, but I think the problem is deeper than that.  The profitability of the status quo is such that there is no incentive to change.  There is no incentive to change because the mineral wealth of space is not immediately needed here, is not known accurately enough for prospecting, nor is the mineral wealth able to be processed into necessary economic artifacts of great usefulness.  Witness how quickly ATK was able to "reprice" aspects of the SRB launch system when an alternate booster system seemed to be offered.

Quote
There are guys on Wall Street taking home enough money in bonuses this year alone to buy and launch ...

... just about anything.  They appear to be completely uninterested in this field, and altho I have talked to some, I speak for none of them, and share only my opinions of their actions.  Their need to collect money outweighs any other consideration.  Pragmatically, there is no data on the payback arrangements of any space colonization efforts; if these guys are rational at all, they would resist investing in a scheme with no payback data of any sort.
« Last Edit: 02/28/2011 03:03 AM by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8380
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 306
  • Likes Given: 133
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #149 on: 02/28/2011 04:36 PM »
Agree with your point that a potential killer app need not be radically better but rather valid from a business perspective.
 In thinking about this years ago I decided that the best course of action was to first take inventory of what resources were most available and design a development plan around that. The dead payloads in GEO are the most accessible potential ISRU material and they are close to each other in terms of delta V required to gather them together. The sunlight is almost constant in GEO and signal latency is low so telepresence is high quality.
 A telerobot gives you a human on site (actually better since it can work 24/7 and is more dextrous than an EVA astronaut ) and focused sunlight with fiberoptics gives you a cutting torch. A solar furnace can melt parts down and a rapid prototyping machine can make parts for the telerobot to assemble.
 The first potentially killer app would I guess be transporting payloads from LEO to GEO using the aluminum as propellant for a solar thermal rocket engine ( which is basically a solar furnace with an exhaust nozzle ) and the ability to rendezvous and grab that is essential to use GEO reoiurces in the first place.
 Some payloads such as military or weather sats may be repairable for profit as well and an early killer app may be carrying upgrade modules for existing comsats and leveraging the high quality telepresence to install new equipment into sats not originally designed for it.
 The key is to begin with a system that can minimize initial investment and make the best use of what's there to expand to NEO's and the Moon with minimal ongoing material shipped from Earth while making money from the earliest stage. I believe modest sized solar thermal rocket powered OTV telerobots offer the best chance of doing that.

Sol   

So a possible application is a solar thermal rocket powered OTV telerobot.

For $10.9M a Falcon 1 can place about 320 kg in a 600 km 9.1 degree orbit, the Falcon 1e about 850 Kg.
http://www.spacex.com/Falcon1UsersGuide.pdf  Figure 2-3.

Even at twice that price there are venture funds that can afford that money.  Can you design a telrobot, including propellant, with that mass restriction?

Offline truth is life

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 278
  • Liked: 7
  • Likes Given: 8
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #150 on: 02/28/2011 05:22 PM »
The government didn't build the railroads.
The government didn't build the clipper ships.
The government doesn't build the oil tankers.
(I can't say the government doesn't make cars anymore.)

However, the government did provide a substantial amount of the funding used by the railroads (look up how the transcontinental was funded, or the Credit Mobilier scandal), and it has long been responsible for building and improving the ports used by clipper ships and oil tankers. Certainly, without the Ship Channel (maintained, at the very least, by the government), the Port of Houston would be inconsequential, to take one example close to (my) home.

Of course, in countries that aren't the US, the railroads often were built by the government, or at least with even more involvement by the government, as were ports and shipping industries.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #151 on: 02/28/2011 05:34 PM »
Also, in the US, the interstate highway system is, of course, funded by the government.

The point isn't that the government can't have a role in transportation infrastructure... the point is that government can't be the sole source of demand in a sustainable and scalable space economy.
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 Solman

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 675
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 8
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #152 on: 02/28/2011 07:56 PM »
All of this is interesting mental exercises, but nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING is going to happen until one of two things happen first:

1) The government decides to spend a whole lot more than they have been doing.

or

2) The cost to access space drops to the point that regular companies can realistically afford to get involved.


With the continuing doldrums of the economy giving way only to decades of deficit reduction measures, I don't see option 1 happening at all.   If anything, I see government space spending being cut, cut and cut again over the next decade.

So number 2 is our only real hope.   And so far, even Space-X can't get the costs down to the level we need to see any serious increases in activity in space.   The landscape, the dynamic, the paradigm or whatever you want to call it, has got to change in terms of cost for space access.   And it has to change far more radically than we have ever seen before.   Only then, will any of these grandiose plans stand the slightest chance of attaining funding.   And without funding, not one single plan here will ever leave the discussion boards or the power-point slides.

Ross.

 I disagree. As I pointed out in my most recent post in this thread, I believe telepresence in GEO can facilitate the creation of an expanding infrastructure beyond Earth. The initial investment required to perfect solar thermal telerobot OTV's is frankly beyond my ability to accurately estimate, but the technical challenges seem well within what private enterprise could afford. The payoff is as big as space itself.
 To A M Swallow: The solar thermal OTV's could efficiently boost themselves from LEO to GEO and so might be able to use a wide variety of launch vehicles depending on their mass. Again, I lack the expertise to estimate the optimal mass for these vehicles, but it seems to me that smaller is better and having larger numbers of them working together is desirable.

Sol

Offline savuporo

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5155
  • Liked: 981
  • Likes Given: 343
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #153 on: 03/01/2011 12:27 AM »
Is a bee a "pest"?  What about "hummingbirds, bats, and small mammals such as mice .... insects like beetles, ... ants, wasps, butterflies and moths"?

Who gets to decide what a pest is and is not? 

 - Ed Kyle

Once we actually get there, and build a Bernal sphere or a Stanford torus, im sure we could build a few more. A few of them with cockroaches and rats and other pests you require. It'll be nice.

In fact, im sure the inhabitants of the first one will have hard time keeping the pests _out_, that tourists will inevitably drag onboard.
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #154 on: 03/02/2011 08:02 PM »
Also, in the US, the interstate highway system is, of course, funded by the government.

The point isn't that the government can't have a role in transportation infrastructure... the point is that government can't be the sole source of demand in a sustainable and scalable space economy.

Well Stated.

I personally view the COTS and Commercial Crew programs for the ISS as loosely comparable to what the US Government did in establishing Air Mail routes in the 1920's.  Those early services slowly grew from hauling mail to carrying passengers.  As the demands increased, the capablilities of the aircraft improved.

The important thing though is that Government didn't build the Curtis JN4 or any of the other aircraft that were in common usage for that purpose.  Curtis, Wright, Ford, Douglass, and all the other great names of the early days strove to develop craft to sell to that expanding market.  What the government did was provide a purpose for those planes to be used.  The owner/operators then found new and expanded uses for the resources they had developed.

Right now we look at the SpaceX Dragon and we see a a WWI vet pilot loading up with mailbags and heading off into the blue.  What will we see ten years from now because it was given a purpose and the freedom to be other things too?
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline truth is life

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 278
  • Liked: 7
  • Likes Given: 8
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #155 on: 03/02/2011 10:24 PM »
Also, in the US, the interstate highway system is, of course, funded by the government.

The point isn't that the government can't have a role in transportation infrastructure... the point is that government can't be the sole source of demand in a sustainable and scalable space economy.

Well, of course not. I just didn't like the analogy! I think Cherokee43v6's works much better (although I think I've seen it used before--well, it is a good analogy). It gets nicer when you consider what NACA did back then...

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #156 on: 03/03/2011 12:08 AM »
Also, in the US, the interstate highway system is, of course, funded by the government.

The point isn't that the government can't have a role in transportation infrastructure... the point is that government can't be the sole source of demand in a sustainable and scalable space economy.

Well, of course not. I just didn't like the analogy! I think Cherokee43v6's works much better (although I think I've seen it used before--well, it is a good analogy). It gets nicer when you consider what NACA did back then...

What I was getting at with my original analogy list is that each of those examples had a 'why do this' that supported it, beyond mere governmental needs.  What I'm fishing for here is brainstorming on some of the near-term uses for commercial crew capability (beyond tourism).  Other things that it can be used for to 'bring home the bacon' shall we say.

One of the ideas that has floated on other threads is satellite repair.

Now, to date, only one satellite has been designed for on-orbit repair, and that is the Hubble.  Why have the satellite companies not designed them that way?  Because it is far cheaper to build and launch a new satellite than to launch a repair team for an existing one.  That climb out of the gravity well is a bear.  But what if instead of climbing into orbit, the repair team were deploying from a station at LM1?  Could a case be made for an orbital salvage yard type operation where a team was hauling in, disassembling and recycling 'graveyard sats' and doing repair work on the side?  Think about the recent 'zombiesat' and how much easier it might have been resolved with the ability to deploy a workvan.

This type of operation may or may not be viable, but it is a near term concept that would make use of commercial space assets.
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #157 on: 03/03/2011 03:28 AM »
On-orbit satellite repair doesn't necessarily mean the satellite was designed for it. I fix all sorts of things which are not designed for it (i.e., nice, easily accessible bolts... components on rails which allow easy sliding out the bad component and in the good one... fixing blown capacitors on laptops is a huge pain, but it's certainly possible). This is a lot harder with conventional space suit gloves, but there are much improved spacesuit glove prototypes now that could be used in the future.

There are ways to refuel satellites that weren't designed for it, replace/repair solar panels not designed for it, and probably replace batteries that were not designed for it. Fixing antennae or solar panels or radiators that didn't deploy properly is certainly possible (and probably among the low-hanging fruit). You can probably fix almost anything that can go wrong, assuming the satellite isn't totally destroyed.

The real question is: Is it worth the cost?
If somehow commercial crew could bring down the cost of manned missions to a couple dozen million dollars for a GSO mission (very, very difficult), it may well be worth it in some cases. We're going to need RLVs.

Another possibility for commercial crew is space research. ISS was purportedly to be used for all sorts of beneficial microgravity research. If it's so beneficial, it may also be beneficial for commercial companies to do. And, in fact, we are seeing this with the suborbital guys (though a lot of that research is still ultimately from government money), including XCor and Virgin Galactic. If microgravity and space-environment research is as useful as is claimed by some, it may end up being at least as big as the space tourism market. Especially if you find some really valuable (and profitable) process that can only feasibly be done in space.... That could have an explosive impact on the commercial space market. We can hope...
« Last Edit: 03/03/2011 03:33 AM by Robotbeat »
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 JohnFornaro

  • Not an expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9161
  • Delta-t is the salient metric.
  • Planet Eaarth
    • Design / Program Associates
  • Liked: 617
  • Likes Given: 320
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #158 on: 03/03/2011 02:00 PM »
... the point is that government can't be the sole source of demand in a sustainable and scalable space economy.

So true.  However.  The government must be the sole source of the demand during the construction of the sustainable, scalable, space economy.  This would be the initial, and only time when the government would be sole source.  It would be the law that the transition to a space based economy would happen as quickly as is practicable, with the government acknowledging the eventual, but probable emergence of a political movement in the space economy.

So far, it has not acted with the necessary continuity to actually build the many things necessary for the new, hoped for economy, and it's as yet unfullfilled promise of continuing the "perfection of the union", as it were.

Edit:  Maybe this is a more accurate sense of what I meant.
« Last Edit: 03/04/2011 12:39 PM by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #159 on: 03/03/2011 03:24 PM »
... the point is that government can't be the sole source of demand in a sustainable and scalable space economy.

So true.  However.  The government must be the sole source of the demand during the construction of the sustainable, scalable, space economy.  So far, it has not acted with the necessary continuity to actually build the many things necessary for the new, hoped for economy.

I would change one word in your statement John.  Instead of 'sole' source, I would say 'initial' source of demand.  Otherwise, I agree 100%.  Like the air-mail analogy indicated above.  Having a purpose leads to capability which then seeks out other purposes.

Human spaceflight as a government operation never had an incentive to seek out those other purposes.  Commercial will seek other opportunities to 'make money' doing what they do.
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline Solman

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 675
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 8
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #160 on: 03/03/2011 09:27 PM »
On-orbit satellite repair doesn't necessarily mean the satellite was designed for it. I fix all sorts of things which are not designed for it (i.e., nice, easily accessible bolts... components on rails which allow easy sliding out the bad component and in the good one... fixing blown capacitors on laptops is a huge pain, but it's certainly possible). This is a lot harder with conventional space suit gloves, but there are much improved spacesuit glove prototypes now that could be used in the future.

There are ways to refuel satellites that weren't designed for it, replace/repair solar panels not designed for it, and probably replace batteries that were not designed for it. Fixing antennae or solar panels or radiators that didn't deploy properly is certainly possible (and probably among the low-hanging fruit). You can probably fix almost anything that can go wrong, assuming the satellite isn't totally destroyed.

The real question is: Is it worth the cost?
If somehow commercial crew could bring down the cost of manned missions to a couple dozen million dollars for a GSO mission (very, very difficult), it may well be worth it in some cases. We're going to need RLVs.

Another possibility for commercial crew is space research. ISS was purportedly to be used for all sorts of beneficial microgravity research. If it's so beneficial, it may also be beneficial for commercial companies to do. And, in fact, we are seeing this with the suborbital guys (though a lot of that research is still ultimately from government money), including XCor and Virgin Galactic. If microgravity and space-environment research is as useful as is claimed by some, it may end up being at least as big as the space tourism market. Especially if you find some really valuable (and profitable) process that can only feasibly be done in space.... That could have an explosive impact on the commercial space market. We can hope...

 I think your comments about repairing sats not initially designed for it are a breath of fresh air. A can-do attitude that is all too lacking IMO.
 Like a broken record though, I just feel compelled to mention that Robonaut type telepresence in GSO is hard to beat either in cost or in time required to accomplish a given task. People following robots just makes more sense to me. They had manned submersibles that could have been shipped in to be used to repair well in the Gulf, but they used ROV's exclusively. Maybe that should tell us something.

Sol

Offline truth is life

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 278
  • Liked: 7
  • Likes Given: 8
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #161 on: 03/04/2011 03:30 AM »
They had manned submersibles that could have been shipped in to be used to repair well in the Gulf, but they used ROV's exclusively. Maybe that should tell us something.

Sol

One factor in that is that I don't believe there are many non-research submersibles that are designed to do that sort of fiddly work in deep water (and I don't know how many of the research ones are, either). The oil industry has used ROVs as its standard underwater tool for a long while (since the '70s, I believe), except where they use saturation divers or similar. ROVs are quite a bit more useful in most circumstances, and there are an awful lot more of them around than manned submersibles capable of going to any great depth.

Offline JohnFornaro

  • Not an expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9161
  • Delta-t is the salient metric.
  • Planet Eaarth
    • Design / Program Associates
  • Liked: 617
  • Likes Given: 320
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #162 on: 03/04/2011 01:00 PM »
I think [RobotBeat's] comments about repairing sats not initially designed for it are a breath of fresh air. A can-do attitude that is all too lacking IMO.

Like a broken record though, I just feel compelled to mention that Robonaut type telepresence in GSO is hard to beat either in cost or in time required to accomplish a given task.

I feel your pain about that "breath of fresh air".  There are, I'd say, too many American'ts running our HSF program.  However, I struggle to accept the idea of repairing a sat that's not designed to be repaired.  I'm all for retrieving dead sats for use as seed material for the several ISRU plants being talked about here and there, but repairing them when they are specifically not designed for any repairs at all, doesn't seem sensible to me.

The way the economics work is that the profit from launching and using the sat thruout its expected life, far exceed the possible salvage value of the sat when it finally dies of old age.  The "repair" warranties that you get for your electronic gizmo at Best Buy come to mind.  When your mp3 player dies, do you really think that there's a repair shop which will diagnose and swap out components on the itty bitty circuit board inside?

Yeah, when a sat goes bad early, the companies lose money; and the insurance companies have to cough up when the launch fails from time to time.  That's the exception, not the rule, demonstrated by the yearly quarterly profits racked up by the experienced sat companies.  Then there are the sat business concepts which never seem to get off the ground, say Iridium at one point.  But that has nothing to do with repairability and more to do with incomplete execution.

The repair job that's going to come up again will be Hubble.  Here, the repair costs exceeded its launch costs, even accounting for the aerospace inflation rate.  In many ways, it was more a demonstration of a capability than anything else.  Sadly, management's BTDT philosophy seems to have governed:  "We've already demonstrated that we can repair expensive satellites.  We don't need to do that anymore.  We think we only want to do things once, and move on, even tho that's kinda illogical, on the face of it."  [Actual quote! I kid you not! See? No smilies!]

As a result, the capability isn't refined by continued practice.

But in general, I agree that tele-operated robotic precursors will be absolutely necessary to pave the way for permanent human presence, by building certain parts of the infrastructure.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28049
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7860
  • Likes Given: 5232
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #163 on: 03/04/2011 04:29 PM »
On-orbit repair would have the most bang-for-the-buck for premature failures, not necessarily reviving elderly satellites. Deployment failures, especially.
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 Solman

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 675
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 8
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #164 on: 03/04/2011 05:59 PM »
On-orbit repair would have the most bang-for-the-buck for premature failures, not necessarily reviving elderly satellites. Deployment failures, especially.

 True but don't forget about upgrades. Many pieces of an existing comsat may retain there usefulness - antennas perhaps - and could be combined with new pieces brought from the ground to end up with a fully modern comsat for a great savings in launch costs.

Offline LegendCJS

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 575
  • Boston, MA
  • Liked: 7
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #165 on: 03/04/2011 06:11 PM »
On-orbit repair would have the most bang-for-the-buck for premature failures, not necessarily reviving elderly satellites. Deployment failures, especially.

 True but don't forget about upgrades. Many pieces of an existing comsat may retain there usefulness - antennas perhaps - and could be combined with new pieces brought from the ground to end up with a fully modern comsat for a great savings in launch costs.


Launching replacement pieces and the tools robotic or otherwise to install them to save on launch costs?  Tell me how that works?
« Last Edit: 03/04/2011 06:12 PM by LegendCJS »
Remember: if we want this whole space thing to work out we have to optimize for cost!

Offline Robert Thompson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1117
  • Liked: 82
  • Likes Given: 658
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #166 on: 03/04/2011 07:16 PM »
Can anyone throw out numbers on the industrial value, as a function of time, of the electronic components with rare earth metals and any other high-commodity materials in a hypothetical average satellite. Focusing on satellite carcasses for ISRU. "A man's flesh is his own; the water belongs to the tribe."

Is it also sound to suspect that the quantity of these metals goes up with mass and functionality, which goes up with time, to the effect that older, dead satellites may have "too little" in comparison to newer? (I could have this backwards due to Moore's Law, and I have no knowledge of real satellite masses.)

Online Cherokee43v6

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 668
  • Garner, NC
  • Liked: 240
  • Likes Given: 97
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #167 on: 03/04/2011 11:03 PM »
On-orbit repair would have the most bang-for-the-buck for premature failures, not necessarily reviving elderly satellites. Deployment failures, especially.

 True but don't forget about upgrades. Many pieces of an existing comsat may retain there usefulness - antennas perhaps - and could be combined with new pieces brought from the ground to end up with a fully modern comsat for a great savings in launch costs.


Launching replacement pieces and the tools robotic or otherwise to install them to save on launch costs?  Tell me how that works?

That one is actually easy!  If the parts and tools are being sent to a manned station, how many parts and tools can you send for the comparable mass of an entire satellite?  Once those parts are at the station, how many satellites can then be upgraded?

So, lets say that for the weight of one full up satellite, you send up new batteries, solar cells and motherboards for 10 satellites?

10 fully upgraded new technology sats for the cost of one launch!

Another factor.  Once on-orbit repair is proven, then there is on orbit production of new sats.  Why?  because it will be cheaper and easier to send up the parts, properly packaged against the forces of liftoff, and then build the 'bus' in space not needing to stand up to the launch forces... thus saving weight!
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline Solman

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 675
  • Liked: 9
  • Likes Given: 8
Re: Why Space?
« Reply #168 on: 03/05/2011 01:05 AM »
On-orbit repair would have the most bang-for-the-buck for premature failures, not necessarily reviving elderly satellites. Deployment failures, especially.

 

 True but don't forget about upgrades. Many pieces of an existing comsat may retain there usefulness - antennas perhaps - and could be combined with new pieces brought from the ground to end up with a fully modern comsat for a great savings in launch costs.


Launching replacement pieces and the tools robotic or otherwise to install them to save on launch costs?  Tell me how that works?

That one is actually easy!  If the parts and tools are being sent to a manned station, how many parts and tools can you send for the comparable mass of an entire satellite?  Once those parts are at the station, how many satellites can then be upgraded?

So, lets say that for the weight of one full up satellite, you send up new batteries, solar cells and motherboards for 10 satellites?

10 fully upgraded new technology sats for the cost of one launch!

Another factor.  Once on-orbit repair is proven, then there is on orbit production of new sats.  Why?  because it will be cheaper and easier to send up the parts, properly packaged against the forces of liftoff, and then build the 'bus' in space not needing to stand up to the launch forces... thus saving weight!

 I should also mention that if a particular part can be re-used it doesn't have to be manufactured OR launched. Manufacture and all that goes into getting a sat ready for launch costs a lot more than the launch costs themselves. This saving may be partly offset by the difficulty of designing new parts to interface with the used parts and the charge for assembly on-orbit, but may nonetheless prove cost effective.
 The high quality telepresence available in GEO indicates to me that the higher cost and risk of human presence in GEO would make sense only once telerobots had built the transportation and habitats out of dead sats, Lunar derived materials, and NEO regolith. Humans would be far more cost effective for mining and manufacturing on the Moon at an earlier stage than they would re GEO IMO. Besides the water skiing in 1/6g on the lakes at the bottom of the polar geodomes would be a blast!

Spl

Tags: