Moon, Mars, or Asteroids, Which is the Best Destination for Solar System Development?


Author’s Preface

This is a 5,000 word blog post.  I ask you who read to read all of this so that you will get the gestalt that is being conveyed.  This may be the first chapter of a forthcoming book on the subject of the economic development of the solar system.  Consider it a sneak peek.

Destinations

The Moon!, no  Mars!, no Asteroids!   Here we are in the second decade of the 21st century and in the NASA, space advocacy, and commercial space worlds one of these three destinations are being touted (largely to the exclusion of others) for their value to science,  human exploration, and economic development, but which one of them is the most valuable, the most deserving, of our attention?  This argument is taking place today in the vacuum of space policy that we currently live in without any unifying principles or policy to inform our decisions.  Without a guiding policy and sense of purpose that encompasses more than narrow interests and singular destinations it is exceedingly likely that the human exploration and development of the solar system will continue to be an expensive and futile exercise.  We must develop a firm moral, technological, and fiscal foundation for this outward move that will attract capital investment, spur technology development, and encourage innovation in a manner that people can understand, believe in, and thus financially support.

Policy, What Policy?

There is no coherent policy within the American government today (which is more than just NASA) and this is something that we must change.  In 2005 the Defense Department’s spurred an excellent effort to support the development of a Space Power Theory that would provided the intellectual underpinning of a coherent policy encompassing and integrating space into the larger realm of our national economic and security fabric.  This multivolume set of essays was a strong step in this direction but its publishing was delayed and has as much as possible been ignored since its publication.  However, it is there and is worthy of discussion and integration into our national space policy.

We did have a national policy as enunciated by Dr. John Marburger in his memorable 2006 Goddard Memorial speech but that was cast away as quickly as the entire Constellation implementation plan (and the VSE before it).  NASA’s current strategy of sacrificing everything to a few flagship science missions and a behemoth recreation of a Saturn V class heavy lifter is one that creates large targets for budget cutters.  Indeed the National Academies has a public comment period open at this time and one of the questions is whether or not the nation should have a human spaceflight program.  The current NASA plan is not based upon sound policy considerations.  Bluntly, the asteroid mission was chosen as NASA did not have the money to pay for an Altair class lunar lander under the Constellation program, and with up to seven heavy lift launches per mission (the last NASA Mars Design Reference Mission), Mars is simply unaffordable the NASA way with a major shift in national priorities.

Most if not all of NASA’s plans today are based upon an ad hoc collection of scientific exploration for the sake of science and whatever architecture they can cobble together with human spaceflight funding scraps congress is willing to fund.  The current NASA administrator declares that Mars is his goal but there are no funds to support the idea nor is a rationale provided other than “we want to go”.  NASA recently has adopted the retrieval of an asteroid as a first step in exploration whereupon congress declares it dead on arrival and a faction attempts to pass a bill mandating lunar exploration.  This does not a policy make.  A sound national policy would provide the rationale for exploration in general which would give our lawmakers a moral foundation whereby to  reallocate national financial priorities to provide more funding for space.  Additionally, the policy would incentivize and enable private enterprise to take steps on their own without relying on the national purse.

Destinations

Mars

As stated before, in the government world Mars is hopelessly underfunded for the architecture that NASA wants.  NASA is also unwilling to consider alternate architectures that do not require a massive heavy lift launch vehicle.  In the commercial world there is no real policy guidance but there is hope.  There are those, like Elon Musk, Inspiration Mars,  Mars One and Buzz Aldrin who are in one form or another focused on Mars and its eventual colonization.  This is good in that while it is not a policy, there is an aspiration that humans should colonize Mars.  However, with this aspiration there needs to be a means to sustain such a colony and little thought has been given to that problem.  The most obvious approach of direct supply from the Earth is extremely expensive and time limited (due to the two year gap between launch windows) and the requirement for heavy lift, even if you have a fully reusable launch vehicle from the Earth.  The cycling Earth/Mars spacecraft advocated by Dr. Buzz Aldrin makes a lot of sense but lamentably there is little move to adopt it as an architectural centerpiece by anyone.  Any sustainable architecture for human exploration and/or colonization must go beyond throw away vehicles and throw away plans and there is little evidence of this being considered.

Asteroids

There has been a lot of recent activity on this front.  Again NASA’s plan is woefully incomplete and underfunded while also requiring the heavy lift launch vehicle.  The recent change to bringing an asteroid back has many meritorious aspects but the NASA administrator has already killed most of them with recent statements.  With much fanfare a commercial splash was made last year by a company theoretically backed by several billionaires called Planetary Resources.  Their idea is to go grab asteroids and haul them back to Earth orbit for exploitation.  An interim plan calls for them to gain experience and provide a service to humanity by building small satellites carrying telescopes that can find Near Earth Objects (NEOs) that could harm the Earth.  Another effort formed basically in response to the Planetary Resources announcement came from another group called Deep Space Industries (DSI).  DSI has an even more ambitious plan to go and mine asteroids In Situ.  They begin by flying inexpensive nano satellites from the Earth to go there and characterize the ones that they are interested in.  However, in both cases there seems to be a significant gap between step 1 and step 2 that is not well illustrated or costed.  The ideas are great but those gaps….

Moon

NASA still has a love/hate/hate relationship with the Moon and since the president’s unfortunate choice of words “been there and done that” that destination has been deemphasized by the agency.  There is a lot of interest (most of it outside of the U.S.) from government agencies and some activity from the commercial realm.  First off as most people know there is the Google Lunar X Prize.  This effort provides a $15-$25m prize for the first commercial landing on the Moon.  The second is a new group called Golden Spike, led by former NASA administrator for Science Dr. Allen Stern.  There have been other commercial groups that have come on gone over the years as well, with varying business plans (grandiose or not) on how to make money at or on the Moon.  The most serious efforts today are still those by governments, such as China who seeks to put a lander on the Moon in 2013.  Though the Chinese are working in their normal methodical way to accomplish their goals that they claim to lead to a human landing, there is little indication that from a policy perspective, their efforts extend beyond science and one upping the Americans.  Europe has many meetings about lunar development, and one study that was never published but that I was allowed to see, was pretty remarkable in terms of what Europe, if it was going to do anything, well articulated their reasons for doing so and not just in terms of science.  None of the government plans that I have seen or read or viewed online for the Moon recently have a purpose beyond playing scientist on the Moon.

Developing a Policy for All Destinations

Policies are developed to provide guidance to our legislative and executive, based on human aspiration, to provide a sense of purpose and goals for the benefit of the nation and its people.  For example the westward expansion of the United States was a formal economic, political, and security policy that was implemented over a century by many successive administrations and congresses supported by the people to enable the growth of the nation.  The post WWII policy of containment was implemented  by both military and economic means against the Soviet Union over decades as a means to provide greater security for the nation.  The post WWII infrastructure development of the Interstate highway system, the national airport infrastructure, and waterway development was developed to foster commerce and enable further economic growth.  The American interstate highway system was put in place over thirty years and fifty seven years later is still growing.  These policies had purposes and a goals that fit within the larger context of providing for economic development as well as national security.

Our early space policy had a mostly strategic security purpose and goal, to beat the Russians to the Moon as a competitive alternative to war in a nuclear age.  After that it was to develop a reusable space transportation system who’s stated purpose was to lower costs and thus open the space frontier to new applications. However, the Shuttle’s development was finally funded when the United States Air Force desired design changes were implemented, bringing the purpose back to national security. When the International Space Station was finally pushed forward to construction justified with a strategic security purpose to tie a post Soviet world to the west and employ scientists and engineers that might otherwise work for others on weapons of mass destruction.  These were concrete purposes with goals that could be accomplished but with the national security focus rather than its value to economic growth. Thus American space policy has been programmatic rather than a core value for economic growth and a long term national sense of purpose.

In the renewed era of exploration that came with the Bush administration’s announcement of the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) in 2005 there was finally an articulation of a long term policy to guide that exploration that tied space to its larger role in contributing to economic development by incorporating the solar system into our economic sphere.  However, as NASA unfolded their interpretation of the VSE it transformed into the Mars science program with a touch and go visit to the Moon on the way rather than an essential part of the national fabric.  This was best explained by Dr. John Marburger in his Goddard Symposium speech in 2008 where he expanded on statements from his 2006 speech:

While “the significance of the Moon and other intermediate destinations” is to some extent “to serve as steppingstones to that goal,” that is not the whole story, and the part that is missing is the lesson of all the activity in Low Earth Orbit. What are we going to do with those stepping stones once we have planted flags on Mars and beyond? I read in these points a narrowing, not an expansion, of the vision of space exploration. They ignore the very likely possibility that operations on the Moon “and other intermediate destinations” will “serve national and international interests” other than science, but including science as an important objective. Our current experience with space, dramatically portrayed by the existence today of a commercial space industry, is that it is useful in ways not imagined even by the early visionaries.

Dr. Marburger was referring to a set of policy points developed at a Stanford event that he had just attended.  These points were:

  • “It is time to go beyond LEO with people as explorers. The purpose of sustained human exploration is to go to Mars and beyond. The significance of the Moon and other intermediate destinations is to serve as steppingstones on the path to that goal.”
  • “Human space exploration is undertaken to serve national and international interests. It provides important opportunities to advance science, but science is not the primary motivation.”
  • “Sustained human exploration requires enhanced international collaboration and offers the United States an opportunity for global leadership.”

Contrast this with the succinct Marburger statement of American space policy from his 2006 Goddard speech:

As I see it, questions about the vision boil down to whether we want to incorporate the Solar System in our economic sphere, or not. Our national policy, declared by President Bush and endorsed by Congress last December in the NASA authorization act, affirms that, “The fundamental goal of this vision is to advance U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests through a robust space exploration program.” So at least for now the question has been decided in the affirmative.

The Marburger point is what are we going to do when we get to these places, indeed what is our purpose for doing this?  Marburger states indirectly says in another part of the 2208 speech that unless we make these larger connections all we will do is litter the solar system with monuments to our futility.  In a policy sense the answer is that science alone has never garnered that critical mass of support that led to sustainable funding and thus policies that are built only around science are unlikely to be successful, which has been the record of the last 30 years.  Other than the very real threat of asteroid impacts there are no direct national security connotations to this exploration either other than as a subsidy to the national aerospace infrastructure, which also has been an unconvincing argument and thus no sustainable funding. We must go beyond the term “exploration”.  Exploration carries with it connotations of impermanence, of a transient visitation of these destinations, without larger purpose.   It goes to something a wag once said about Dr. Carl Sagan’s approach to space, which was effectively “look but don’t touch”.

Interestingly almost all of the commercial and quasi commercial aspirations for the Moon, Mars, and Asteroids developed by interested citizen groups/companies/foundations are keyed toward economic development and colonization, the same rationale that gained the support of the government and the people sustained for over a century of growth.  However, these grassroots aspirations have been a very disjointed affair, only looking at their favored destination.  Is there a way to tie the destinations together into a cohesive policy  for long term economic growth and national prosperity (and world prosperity by extension)?   Other than Marburger and Bush in recent times, no one in government has been willing to take this step of leadership and proclaim this as a purpose for the nation.  At the end of the day, if we as interested citizens can come up with a policy and sense of purpose in this realm we follow in the footsteps of those in our history like Fulton, Whitney, Huntington and others who gain popular financial and ultimately political support for our vision.

American History as a Guide

In American history there are analogs to the limited flags and footprints explorations vs an integrated approach that leads to settlement.  Every school child knows about Lewis and Clark’s expedition from the Mississippi to the Oregon coast.  Very few know that this was one in just a series of explorations funded by congress and carried out by the army.  Here is an excerpt from the book “Empire Express” the story of the intercontinental railroad, from U.S. Army Lieutenant Zebulon Pike’s expedition into the southern portion of the Louisiana purchase, and for whom Pike’s peak is named…

“In various places there were tracts of many leagues, where the wind had thrown up sand in all the fanciful forms of the ocean’s rolling wave, and on which not a spear of vegetable matter existed”  Pike’s visions of sand dunes, pathless wastes, and sterile soils were reported, widely read, and faithfully believed by geographers.  The myth became innocently embellished by subsequent visitors, especially those in the party of Major Stephen H. Long, who traversed the whole area in 1820.  It was reported to be an unfit residence for any but a nomad population…forever to remain the unmolested haunt of the native hunter, the bison, and the jackal.”

The area described is encompassed by the states of Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado.  There is a huge difference in viewpoint when you are merely scouting out an area versus taking the steps to develop the new territories.  Pike was right in 1806, but of course by the time the transcontinental railroad was built through this same area 60 years later the world had changed.  The development of the transcontinental railroad for Colorado enabled the prairie and mountain states to reach their potential just as it was the railroad infrastructure that transformed California’s San Joaquin valley from a desert to the nation’s fruit basket and vegetable garden.

Today the same type of negative stereotypes that were in evidence in the early 1800’s abounds today for space. Then it was skepticism about steam power, railroads, balloons and aeronauts.  Today it is the “impossibility” of the economic development of the solar system.  The difference is that then we went forward anyway as the potential benefits to society far outweighed the risks.  The same is true today about space.  There are no miracles that need to occur to successfully develop the Moon, Mars, or the entirety of the asteroid belt.  What is needed is will, the will to look beyond the objections and the naysayers to take and overcome the obstacles that this development entails.  If it succeeds we have moved humanity into a completely new level of intellectual, technological, and spiritual development.  Without it we face a future that looks increasingly dark, with governments chipping away at liberty under the pretense of providing safety until we once again enter an era of almost universal slavery, which was the lot of mankind before the age of exploration, enlightenment, and industrialization.

An Integrated Approach To Exploration, Development, and Settlement 

It is my strong opinion that the singular destination approach or even multiple destinations not integrated with the others in a strategic manner based upon economic and human development is a recipe for ultimate failure.  Mars is only sustainable by itself at enormous expense, one unlikely to be favored by governments or private interests with the problems the world faces providing for 9 billion people by 2050.  Asteroid mining has little chance at profit without an robust, active inner solar system infrastructure to support it.  Lunar mining and development also has no long term purpose outside of feeding the maw of the terrestrial economy as the resources there are ultimately limited just as those of the Earth are.  It is time to unabashedly advocate for the expansion of mankind into the inner solar system for the purpose of Exploration, Development, and Settlement (the EDS policy).

With the EDS policy the Moon, Mars, asteroids and even free space become part of a greater whole of the economic development of the solar system for the good of ourselves and all mankind.  Thus the EDS policy has a fundamental moral aspect to it in that it is presented as an alternative to the current seeming direction of the world toward war as we fight over the resources of our single planet.  This war is already underway in the economic sense with the increasingly fierce competition for energy and other resources between China, India, Europe, and Japan.

We live in a global civilization of over 7 billion people, which will expand to over 9 billion before plateauing in mid century.  While American politicians are not paying attention to what this means, the rest of the world is noticing.  GDP growth and increasing global resource demand is addressed in a report, Iron Ore Outlook 2050, commissioned for the Indian government.[1]  The GDP of the major powers (U.S. Europe, China, India, Japan) is forecast to rise from $48 trillion in 2010 to $149 trillion by 2050.  The report’s substance is that with this massive increase in global GDP, an intensifying scramble for metal resources is inevitable.

If the trend of resource consumption demand increase continues unabated, there are three likely potential outcomes.  The first is collapse, forecast by the Limits to Growth school of thought.  The second, and more likely scenario is fierce national economic competition leading to wars over diminishing resources.  The third, and most desirable, is to increase the global resource base by the economic and industrial development of the inner solar system.  Thus by this alternative that lessens tensions by expanding our planetary resource base we have the moral foundation for the development of the inner solar system.  How does the Moon, Mars, and Asteroids fit into this gestalt?  That is the question.

The EDS Moon

In the EDS policy we play upon the strengths of the three principal destinations and add free space as well.  We begin with the Moon first simply because it is three days away from us and has trillions of dollars worth of resources in iron, aluminum, titanium, thorium, uranium, silicon, oxygen, water, and the fragments of billions of asteroids that have puckered its surface over the last four billion years.  The current science based missions are wholly inadequate to do more than scratch the surface of quantifying the resource base of the Moon.   Almost all of our current remote sensing data on the Moon is calibrated against the ground truth of the Apollo missions.  This leaves vast room for interpretation of remote sensing data.  It took over a decade for the preliminary yet to many of us definitive detection of the water resources from Clementine and Lunar Prospector to be validated by the current generation of missions.  Thus we need to immediately begin a concerted campaign of wheels on the ground robotic prospectors going to the locations of water and concentrated resources of thorium, titanium, asteroid fragments and other remotely sensed resources of the Moon.

This turns the Moon and a polar orbit around it into the manufacturing center of the inner solar system.  Single stage to orbit is trivial on the moon having been demonstrated by NASA in 1969.  A study that we did indicated that the descent stage of the NASA proposed Altair lander could, if refueled from lunar water, would be able to lift 25 tons of load into lunar orbit and still have enough fuel to return to the surface.  The vehicle used, if based on the same RL-10’s of the Altair could have any shape, including a square flat plate with engines on the corners to take up large payloads manufactured on the Moon, such as habitation modules, tanks for fuel, tanks for water storage, and for rotating systems for an Aldrin cycler.  After a modicum of infrastructure is set up this would be far easier to do than launching everything from the Earth and putting it only a little more than half way out of the 11.2 km/sec gravity well.  Expensive gear like electronics, computers, life support systems and the like could be delivered to lunar orbit and integrated into these systems.

Thus we have the enabling factor for the true exploitation of the asteroids and the settlement of Mars, which are true interplanetary space ships.  It is stupid to try and build such vehicles on the Earth and loft them as they are intrinsically limited by the fairings of launch vehicles and even NASA’s design reference missions required as many as eight billion dollar heavy lift launches, which are 80% fuel for climbing out of the depths of our gravity well besides the costs of the payloads.  There is not one thing that we truly lack in technology to do this other than maybe thorium reactors.  We begin by not needing them by landing at the lunar north pole where the sun shines almost 100% of the time.  With vehicles such as this we now have the means for the next steps.

EDS Mars

Mars comes next in this scenario as we now have the means with the lunar constructed space ships to colonize Mars in a sustainable manner.  This means sending five to ten people at a time to begin life there.  A critical technology that must be developed for Mars is nuclear power.  Sunlight is only 60% as bright on Mars as it is on the Earth and Mars rotates like the Earth, further diminishing the value of solar power.  An advanced civilization on Mars is likely to need 10-50 kilowatts per person per day in order to live beyond mere existence on Mars.  Designers for the most part gloss over this need but it is critical.  The resources of thorium on the Moon are very interesting and there are five concentrations in craters there as indicated on this map from Dr. Paul Spudis.  Thorium reactors can be an export from the Moon to provide megawatts of power for space ships and to be delivered to Mars to provide power on the surface there.

With plentiful nuclear power the economy of Mars can begin to take shape by exploiting the resources of that planet which are far greater than the resources of the Moon.  These resources will mostly be used indigenously to build structures, build farms, develop resources, and form the foundation of an advanced industrial economy for the third home of mankind.  For this economy to flourish as well as to provide resources to the Earth, the near Earth asteroids as well as those beyond Mars must begin to be exploited.  This is where the Moon and Mars work together to enable the development of these vast resources.

EDS Asteroids

With true Aldrin cyclers for Mars in operation the shipyards in lunar orbit turn their sights to developing mining craft for the asteroids.  Due to the simple physics of the orbits of the Earth and asteroids you have two choices.  You either visit one for a short period of time and return to the Earth with a wait of two years before you can do your next visit, or you do a two year trip to the asteroid.  It makes little sense to spend enormous sums of money to visit an asteroid for the first time and a short stay and expect to make a profit.  This may be possible for an extinct comet for water, but these are rare and generally take a lot more energy to reach and return from, raising costs.  A two year mission makes a lot of sense but you can’t just take a spam in the can type of spacecraft to go out there and do this complex operation.  The alternative approach pushed by some to bring these objects back to Earth orbit is extremely expensive, time consuming, and again requires a lot of launches from the Earth to be able to efficiently exploit these resources.

A far better approach would be to build specific fully reusable space ships at the lunar shipyards specifically designed and outfitted to this task and take them to the desired asteroids.  Again building these on the Earth and launching them from that gravity well is foolish, only possible in instances where you are doing the flags and footprints and don’t care about follow up.  It is extremely important to have these specially designed spacecraft as they can very effectively deal with the long stay times and have large tanks that can bring back vast stores of water and other valuable quantities.  At first this water is for the Moon as its water resources are very constrained.  However, after that supply chain is developed this water can be brought to geosynchronous orbit or even to low orbit, which will fundamentally change the economics of Earth launch.  As the water flow increases, prices for commerce decrease to the Moon, Mars, and the Earth, which starts a further virtuous cycle of economic growth.  This effects and enables the development of free space platforms up to and including O’Neil type free space colonies.

The Gestalt

 ge·stalt: An organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts.

This short missive brings together the gestalt for the economic development of the inner solar system.  It is not a question of the Moon, Mars, or the Asteroids, indeed to argue for or against one to the exclusion of the others is to miss the point!  It is all of the above or we are just wasting our time and we might as well start the wars early and get them over with.  This is slightly tongue in cheek but what direction do we want to go for the future of mankind?  There is a way out of the dark future that many see coming toward us.  The economic development of space is a strong contender for that path.  Even if the future is not darkened by war, we will have 9 billion souls on the Earth soon and we want all of our brothers and sisters of the Earth to live good lives, not lives steeped in poverty.  There are those that think that our age is one of excess, destined to exhaust itself soon unless we dial back civilization to something that can be operated with solar panels and wind turbines.  It is simply not possible to operate a planetary civilization of 9 billion plus people with low energy multiple sources and thus we face a decision, backward or forward?

There are those that will say what is written here is the impossible dream of the dreamer.  As a technologist that has worked this issue for twenty five years now I can say with absolute certainty that the above is achievable with our level of technology today.  The question is not should we do this, the question is how do we enable this to be done?  The goal is a prosperous 21st century and beyond for our human family and to extend that family’s reach to begin the long march to the stars.  NASA’s Kepler has revealed literally thousands of candidate worlds out there, a thought that should amaze each and every one of us and make us look forward to the future, not dread it.  The future is before us, ready for us.  It is time to make policies and plans that will bring this about and I can think of no greater legacy to leave mankind than for the United States of America and her citizens to lead this march.  We still have a destiny if we will just lift up our eyes, and ask as Bobby Kennedy once did.. “Why Not?”

About these ads

About denniswingo

I am here now on wordpress to further discuss the ways and means for the economic development of the solar system, to the benefit of the Earth.
This entry was posted in Space and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

204 Responses to Moon, Mars, or Asteroids, Which is the Best Destination for Solar System Development?

  1. taiwanjohn says:

    Good article, Dennis. I agree that an integrated approach to “all of the above” is essential, but I’m skeptical of our government’s ability to lead in this area. NASA’s great potential is hampered by its dependence on Congressional purse strings, tugged and tattered by the piranha swarm of lobbyists, contractors, and special interests. Frankly I have more confidence in your neighbors at MoonEx.

    On the bright side, as the NewSpace startups rack up more milestones, this will enable NASA to do more with less. Just as SpaceX is making ISS resupply less expensive, it won’t be long before NASA can buy an “off-the-shelf” ride to the moon for a small rover. And I reckon Bob Richards wouldn’t mind getting a contract from NASA to develop a larger-scale version of their lander vehicle. ;-)

    I think the key is to get *development* firmly incorporated into our space policy. The “exploration” part of your EDS vision is already assumed, but is unfortunately the only thing our government consistently supports for space. But if we can get them to see the benefits of development, then the “settlement” part will happen as a natural consequence.

    Thankfully, there is growing public awareness of this potential, due in part to the high-profile efforts of Planetary Resources. But their timeline is still too distant to spark near-term policy change. This is where the moon really shines (if you’ll pardon the pun), it is just a few days’ journey from earth, and close enough to allow remote robot operation from home. For a few hundred million bucks, NASA could prove-out the technologies for lunar prospecting, ISRU, additive manufacturing, etc., before PRI even launches its first NEO fly-by.

    But of course, they would never do it that way. Congress would make sure the program got parceled out to as many districts as possible, and constrain it with arbitrary technological requirements, exactly as it happened with SLS. Thus, it would quickly balloon into a multi-billion dollar boondoggle and arrive several years late, if at all.

    In my opinion, our best hope at the moment is for a successful GLXP mission to open people’s eyes to these new opportunities. Perhaps then the funding would flow more readily.

    Just my $0.02…

    — John

    • denniswingo says:

      John

      I largely agree and if you look at our national history the development of policy used to be a far more organic affair with much more public input, development, and buy in. This top down command approach to leadership is a cancer on the body of the republic in my opinion.

      A really good book outlining how this used to be done is “The Empire Express” which chronicles the development of the “national railroad”.

      Thanks for the 2c…

      • taiwanjohn says:

        This turned up on Reddit today, and I thought it relevant…

        http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/19/19032028-house-gop-dont-grab-an-asteroid-lets-put-bases-on-moon-and-mars

        Basically, the House GOP wants to put the goal to “develop a sustained human presence on the moon and Mars” into the NASA authorization bill. I don’t know if they’re doing this for “good” reasons or if they just want to spite Obama by killing the asteroid mission, but either way it’s good news. (I was never too keen on the asteroid thing anyway.)

        Unfortunately, NASA’s still going to get some cuts via the sequester, but if they have a Congressional mandate to “develop a sustained human presence” on the moon, they might throw a little cash toward a “study” or something… might be a chance to steer some effort toward the things we’re talking about here.

        — John

        • denniswingo says:

          It is all about priorities….

          • billgamesh says:

            The GOP supports a Moon base?
            My universe just got alot more complicated. What am I supposed to do now?
            I do not support that party and do not trust them at all.

            • billgamesh says:

              excerpt; “-Mitt Romney, who said he’d fire any employee who suggested spending hundreds of billions of dollars on such a venture.”
              I suspect the GOP is not any more serious about the Moon than Bush was. They include Mars in the same sentence when going to Mars is a joke IMO. There has been so much talk about Mars that people have come to put in the same category as the Moon. It is not.
              Of course the Dems do not care about space and NASA pairing their ridiculous asteroid lasso mission with planetary protection is close to criminal. One has nothing to do with the other.
              It is a sorry state of affairs- and to top it off the private space clowns of course get funded for their tax-subsidized-space-tourism-for-the-ultra-rich business plan.
              The only light at the end of the tunnel is the SLS.

              • taiwanjohn says:

                Last I heard, Mitt Romney was unemployed, so whatever he said on the campaign trail 18 months ago is hardly relevant. But if you follow the link above you’ll see that the House GOP did vote to kill Obama’s asteroid mission and simultaneously mandate a “sustained human presence” on both Mars and the Moon. Granted, this bill still as to pass the Senate, but since the House controls the purse-strings, this is not likely to be overturned.

                In the end, it doesn’t matter how “serious” the GOP is about space exploration, the only thing that matters is that NASA now has a mandate to spend money on “settlement” activities. This alone is a HUGE step in the right direction.

                Clearly, you and I have different ideas about the space program. In my opinion, SLS will never fly because it is a continuation of the “old way” of doing things. It will hit numerous cost overruns and eventually get canceled, whereas the private “NewSpace” startups like SpaceX will go there for their own reasons, regardless of government funding.

                Yes, SpaceX has some gov’t contracts… big deal. Can you name another “major” player at this scale that doesn’t have gov’t contracts? For that matter, can you name another launch services provider that can beat SpaceX’s price-per-pound to orbit? Can you name another entity (gov’t or private) that has a more well-defined “vision” for expansion into the solar system than SpaceX? Can you name another entrepreneur with a better track record than Elon Musk?

                Sorry, I don’t mean to get all “down” on you… it just seems to me that in that last few years we’ve seen a lot of innovation from JPL (ie: Curiosity) and a lot from the NewSpace folks like SpaceX, Masten, XCOR, etc., and not much from the “manned spaceflight” team at NASA (where we’ve been stuck in LEO for the last 30 years).

                Personally, I don’t think gov’t funding matters much anymore. I think we’ve already passed the tipping point where “private” funding takes over.

                We shall see… ;-)

                –jrd

              • denniswingo says:

                Then why in the world do you even care about space. Promote the positive, piss on the negative, or just leave it alone.

              • billgamesh says:

                “Then why in the world do you even care about space. Promote the positive, piss on the negative, or just leave it alone”

                I am promoting the positive- the SLS. Why do I care about space? I have stated how important it is. Leave it alone? You mean leave your opinions on private space alone.
                Why in the world……..do you keep using that language when all I am doing is stating my opinion? If you are going to run a blog you either do not post something or act like an adult. Show some class.

        • Robert Clark says:

          taiwonjohn said:

          In my opinion, SLS will never fly because it is a continuation of the “old way” of doing things. It will hit numerous cost overruns and eventually get canceled, whereas the private “NewSpace” startups like SpaceX will go there for their own reasons, regardless of government funding.

          Since the first test mission of the SLS is to occur in 2017 at least that one is likely to occur. I’m not optimistic though about the expensive later versions that may extend out to 2030 to deploy, so over extend several presidential administrations.
          Since the first version will likely fly in 2017 it is an important to note that actually this version of the SLS itself can be used to produce a manned lunar landing mission, no expensive Block II version required.
          Wingo noted that a big problem with Constellation was the expensive Altair lunar lander. But the point of the matter is it is unnecessary. ULA has done studies showing the Centaur upper stage can be adapted to form a lunar lander stage. We can even have a lunar lander crew module by 2017 in the NASA SEV vehicle:

          Inside NASA’s New Spaceship for Asteroid Missions | Space.com.
          by Clara Moskowitz, SPACE.com Assistant Managing Editor
          Date: 12 November 2012 Time: 02:30 PM ET
          If the current schedule holds, NASA could test-drive a version of the SEV at the International Space Station in 2017.

          http://www.space.com/18443-nasa-asteroid-spacecraft-sev.html

          I’m advocating this as an unmanned test mission in 2017. Currently the first flight of the SLS in 2017 is only to be an unmanned circumlunar flight. However, the fact is the SLS is unnecessary for this purpose. The Delta IV Heavy with its upgraded RS-68a engine can send 28 metric tons to LEO. This suggests it can send also the Orion on a circumlunar mission.
          So the 2014 Delta IV Heavy test flight carrying the Orion that is currently scheduled to only go 3,600 miles out can actually be a much more capable test by sending the Orion all the way out on a circumlunar flight.
          Given this fact it becomes apparent that just using the 2017 SLS flight as a circumlunar test is not properly using its capabilities.

          Bob Clark

          • billgamesh says:

            “ULA has done studies showing the Centaur upper stage can be adapted to form a lunar lander stage.”

            I am not big believer in all these ULA “studies.” I know that Centaur is a fragile machine; it is basically a paper thin metal balloon kept pressurized to keep it from collapsing. It was supposed to be put in the Orbiter cargo bay to launch deep space probes but the two senior astronauts in the shuttle program at the time both said they would resign if they put that “bomb” in the cargo bay. I am not saying they could not do it but it could also be one of those things they blow a couple hundred million on studying and then decide what those those two astronauts had already made up their minds about a quarter century ago.

            Physics has not changed since Apollo; that is a fact some people cannot seem to wrap their heads around. Exhaust velocities of different propellants has not changed and small weight savings have been realized in material science advances and computer design. All the reasons they did what they did and did not do in the 60’s are still valid.

            Of course this drives the New Space crowd nuts; they do not want to hear it. Everyone wants something newer and cheaper and they are not going to get it because it does not and cannot exist. But they believe whatever snake oil is being peddled like NASP and half a dozen other projects that produced paychecks until someone realized they had been had and pulled the plug.

            Hypergolic technology exactly like that used for the 3 different engines in the service module and lunar module is exactly what is required.

            • denniswingo says:

              Yea well it was the astronaut corps that killed the Shuttle C because it was competition for them in the late 1980’s so I don’t actually put their engineering skills in that high of repute.

              • billgamesh says:

                “-it was the astronaut corps that killed the Shuttle C-”
                What does that have to do with engineering skills? Sometimes you pull stuff out of the air that does not make a bit of sense,

              • denniswingo says:

                Nesting does not work beyond a certain point in wordpress.

                Sometimes you pull stuff out of the air that does not make a bit of sense,

                Maybe not to you.

            • Robert Clark says:

              The Altair lunar lander was also hydrogen fueled to save weight.
              Physics hasn’t changed but technology has. The aluminum-lithium shuttle external tank saved 25% off the weight of the ET. The switch to this material resulted in the space shuttle increasing its payload by 3,000 kg over the Apollo-era material originally used. Insisting that the space shuttle had to stay stuck in the 1960’s would mean this advantage would never have been used.
              Physics hadn’t changed in going from the Ford Model T to modern cars either. The technology did.

              Bob Clark

              • billgamesh says:

                “The aluminum-lithium shuttle external tank saved 25% off the weight of the ET.”

                It is still a heavy lift vehicle with a hydrogen upper stage, The shuttle was a Saturn V class vehicle but most of it’s payload was wasted on lifting the orbiter.
                I repeat: Everyone wants something newer and cheaper and they are not going to get it because it does not and cannot exist.
                25 percent reduction was an improvement that would have been made to the Saturn V also so I am not insisting anything- you are.

              • denniswingo says:

                I repeat: Everyone wants something newer and cheaper and they are not going to get it because it does not and cannot exist.

                A very definitive statement, for which there is no engineering support.

            • The Centaur having weak tanks means that it could be used to land cargo but not for the Ascent of people.

              • Robert Clark says:

                If you run the numbers, you don’t even have to use the “balloon tanks” of the Centaur if you stay hydrogen fueled. For instance the Delta IV Medium upper stage, which does not use the balloon tank design, could also be used.
                But it should be noted the original Atlas rocket that launched John Glenn to orbit was a balloon tank. Also, Lockheed will be using the Centaur itself as the upper stage on the Atlas V when it is used to launch the new crewed spacecraft to LEO.

                Bob Clark

          • taiwanjohn says:

            Just to be clear, I’m not opposed to SLS, I just don’t have much confidence in the “old” style of government procurement. And I’m especially leery of any legislation that requires NASA to use a particular technology to solve a given problem.

            I was being more metaphorical than literal when I said it would never “fly”… Yes, they may build and launch a few, but at what cost? Specifically, at what cost-per-pound to orbit? After 50 years of experience, we’ve gotten pretty good at orbital rendezvous, so what’s the point of launching an entire mission on one vehicle when it’s cheaper to spread it out over several launches and assemble everything on orbit? (IOW, why do we “need” an HLV in the first place?)

            I will be *very* surprised if SLS comes in at even parity with Atlas or Delta, let alone SpaceX. So if it costs more, what are we really spending our money on if not a “jobs” program? That’s why I think it won’t “fly” (ie: succeed) in the long run. By the time it’s ready to launch, there will be much cheaper alternatives available.

            –jrd

  2. Pingback: Space-for-All at HobbySpace » Space policy – June.19.13

  3. Dennis, an excellent and lucid article that makes the case (clear case!) for a sustained public-private partnership for the exploration, settlement and economic development of the Solar System. The Moon has to be our first foray in becoming a spacefaring civilization. The Moon is where we will learn how to maximize ISRU coupled with robotics and 3D printing. The Moon is where we will learn how to biologically and psychologically survive beyond Earth. The Moon is where we will learn how to create an environment where humans can live and thrive. AND … it’s only three days away!! What a gift the Moon is for humanity. This is the case that needs to be understood by all. Haym.

    • denniswingo says:

      Haym

      Thanks but I do think that there is a lot of room for parallel work on Mars and the asteroids. For example the asteroid telescope to find the objects down to 10-50 meters is a great step. The telescope should also have sufficient instrumentation to be able to determine spectral class of object. Then with that data in hand a series of asteroid prospectors should go out and in-situ sample multiple bodies. This builds a statistical list of the resources of these objects and allows mission planners to then better plan for mining missions. This is a very valid thing for the government to do as the scientific benefit of more detailed classification and examination helps to better understand the formation and evolution of the minor and major bodies in the solar system.

      • Haym Benaroya says:

        Dennis, that is a good point, and I agree that parallel work makes sense for an optimal expansion into space. I am just thinking about the financing aspects. We can’t even muster support for small-scale efforts. But if the world has an epiphany about space and NASA’s budget grows to the point of being able to support multiple significant efforts, I am all in favor.

        • feet2thefire says:

          Haym –

          Yes, we could easily finance this. We have such a bloated military program that it leaves nothing over for much of anything else. I don’t decry having a military, but I think it is chewing up our tax money at an unsustainable rate, the way it is being mismanaged. With our military budget being bigger than those of all other countries in the world, there is a lot that could be pruned – and redirected – without sacrificing our security.

          1% of our military budget redirected to this would give them so much money they wouldn’t know how to spend it all.

          That said, with Dave Morrison in charge of NASA, it would all be ……..SNIP…….. (I Don’t allow such comments here)

          Steve Garcia

      • billgamesh says:

        “I do think that there is a lot of room for parallel work on Mars and the asteroids.”

        Mars is the armpit of the solar system. Only Venus is worse. No good reason to go. The subsurface oceans of Ceres and the outer moons are far more interesting and useful destinations. Just descending into and out of Mars gravity well is……not worth the trouble. It’s a rock. The only reason it is talked about is the popular culture baggage it represents and the mistaken assumption that it is “just close enough” for chemical propulsion. It is not.

        • denniswingo says:

          Good lord man this article was written as a counter to uninformed opinions such as your post.

          • billgamesh says:

            Good lord Dennis, you are not the king of informed opinion. What is uninformed about anything I said? It IS a rock. The better destinations are farther out. And in MY opinion Mars IS too far away for chemical propulsion. If you are going to condescend than just remove my original post and spare us the view from your high horse.

            • denniswingo says:

              And in MY opinion Mars IS too far away for chemical propulsion.

              I happen to agree with that opinion but that has nothing to do with your statement about Mars. I did the last video interview of Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger (one of the fathers of ion propulsion) and got the low down on what he and Von Braun thought.

              • billgamesh says:

                “-that has nothing to do with your statement about Mars-”

                It has everything to do with my statement about Mars. Nuclear propulsion means this prime qualifier for Mars- that it is close enough to reach with chemical propulsion- does not matter anymore. So what is left; a too deep gravity well, not enough solar energy, and no easy way to establish a self-sustaining colony. Thus- no reason to go except to satisfy past romantic notions of Mars as a second home to humankind.

                Ceres and the icy moons of the outer system have only one disqualifier- no solar energy. The radiation around Jupiter is a problem but Callisto is outside of that threat if I recall. These are the place to go to establish small survival colonies and do science. IMO building habitats using lunar resources as O’Neill advocated is the main focus if lebensraum is the goal. And it is. Not Mars.

    • Dave Klingler says:

      Hi Haym!

      “The Moon has to be our first foray in becoming a spacefaring civilization.”

      Why would a first foray in becoming a spacefaring civilization be to establish ourselves on another gravity well, one that isn’t even well-suited to human beings?

      • Haym Benaroya says:

        Hi Dave, nice to hear from you. I understand what you are saying. I think that it is easier to create long-term human presence in space starting out on a planetary body. Yes, the Moon is inhospitable, but so is everywhere else. The Moon has many of the elements we need to create a significant presence. If you are implying that we build large space stations, I don’t believe that makes sense just from the cost of supplying it perspective.

        • Dave Klingler says:

          Hi Haym. Thanks for your reply.

          You’re suggesting that the cost of supplying a lunar base is lower than the cost of supplying an orbital base? It seems to me that many decades would pass before that might become true, if ever, given the additional propellant mass necessary for lunar resupply. The ability to direct NEO resources toward the orbital base in the near term is also a factor, and mass could be directed from the lunar surface in the long term via mass driver.

          In the mean time, those on the orbital outpost would be enjoying 1G gravity, something unachievable on the lunar or Martian surface.

          I believe that while humans are still human, our best destinations will be the ones we build ourselves. We often tend to consider things using an historical paradigm, wherein explorers establish outposts and the spaces in-between are filled by colonists. In space, however, that “traditional” paradigm does not apply, because gravity other than 1G goes in the “disadvantages” column.

          If an 893×100-meter spinning torus existed near the Earth, providing 1G gravity, would you prefer the Moon over it? How about just two BA330-sized stations, connected by an 893m tether? We can build destinations from scratch that are both easier to reach and far superior to any planet in the solar system other than Earth, because they can emulate the Earth without the disadvantage of a gravity well.

          • billgamesh says:

            “I believe that while humans are still human, our best destinations will be the ones we build ourselves.”

            I think you are half right. One G is required for health but then you talk about space stations without addressing the several hundred tons- and for anything but a small single cabin several thousand tons- of radiation shielding that is also necessary. The water on the Moon is the only source for this shielding since bring up several thousand tons of plastic or water from Earth is an intolerable waste of lift.

            And of course a Lunar Solar Power infrastructure on the Moon is how to build really large habitats like spinning Bernal spheres 10 miles in diameter and larger. That is what you can do with a Moon base and you cannot do it any other way.

            • Robert Clark says:

              Under the gravity requirement, how would you compare the 40% Earth gravity of Mars to the 3% of Ceres?

              Bob Clark

              • billgamesh says:

                Bob, I would say building a circular “sleeper train” on a low gravity icy moon or body like Ceres is a much easier proposition than doing it on Mars. Such a train- essentially a ring centrifuge several thousand feet in diameter- would allow human beings to spend whatever time necessary in 1 G to maintain full fitness. In building such a domicile the less gravity the better and ice to melt through and use as shielding is also an enabler.
                The Moon is a place we have to go- we have no choice but to use lunar resources to go anywhere else- but Mars is…….not a place we have to or should waste time on IMO.

              • Dave Klingler says:

                Asteroids are a source of material, not a potential spot for colonization. We can build very large (hundreds of thousands of people or more) 1G habs all over the solar system interior to the asteroid belt for less money than it would require to put colonies on the lunar or Martian surface.

              • denniswingo says:

                The above is what is known as a religious statement that does not bear even casual scrutiny.

              • Dave Klingler says:

                “The above is what is known as a religious statement that does not bear even casual scrutiny.”

                If you’re suggesting that we put a copy of The High Frontier in every motel bedside table, I’m with you. :)

                Or are we simply dealing with a case of “One man’s religion is another man’s belly laugh”? After all, you began your examination of possible best destinations by leaving out the one that’s cheapest and has been repeatedly demonstrated. Granted, it’s your article, but there’s a decent-sized community of qualified people that feels that the answer should be “none of the above”, Al Globus, for one:

                http://settlement.arc.nasa.gov/

                “Casual scrutiny” would require that you answer at least a few questions:

                1. What’s the cheapest destination in space right now?
                Answer: ISS, obviously. Just because we built it doesn’t mean it’s not a legitimate answer.

                2. If “a cislunar space station” were included in your list of destinations, which would have the lowest required delta-vee?
                Answer: Pretty obvious.

                How about a couple more questions?
                3. Could we build another destination like ISS with simulated 1G gravity?
                Answer: Yes, doing so would not require any new technology, and has been extensively studied.

                4. Could we bring resources to that destination easily?
                Answer: Yes, even apart from bringing them from Earth, that has also been studied and proposed extensively.

                If you believe that you could knock down the body of work on free space settlements with casual scrutiny, please indulge me. :)

              • denniswingo says:

                “Casual scrutiny” would require that you answer at least a few questions:

                The statement you made was….

                We can build very large (hundreds of thousands of people or more) 1G habs all over the solar system interior to the asteroid belt for less money than it would require to put colonies on the lunar or Martian surface.

                This is simply a false statement. You made the statement, you need to back it up with estimates of what it would cost to build your 1G hab in an asteroid and the produce your equivalent numbers for a lunar or Mars colony.

                To keep it on the subject of this article, I think that asteroid habitats or L-5 habitats are all fine and dandy. You are talking about step 172 when we are talking about steps 1-10 for the economic development of the solar system.

              • gbaikie says:

                Two of my previous posts are still awaiting moderation. I ‘ll see what happens with this one. In regards to:
                Dave Klingler says:
                …We can build very large (hundreds of thousands of people or more) 1G habs all over the solar system interior to the asteroid belt for less money than it would require to put colonies on the lunar or Martian surface.
                And denniswingo reply:
                “The above is what is known as a religious statement that does not bear even casual scrutiny.”

                I sort of agree with dennis, but specifically, the problem is it’s ignoring markets, as if everything was somehow centrally planned. Or it a Star Trek reality.
                Unless transportation is for some reason governmental controlled, when there are any significant number of people living in space, our current concern about delta-v will not be important.
                Or different way to say this is that if gasoline/kerosene and oxygen is about as cheap in space as it is on Earth, the rocket fuel used to go to the Moon or Mars and leave the Moon is not a significant cost. Plus there are far cheaper ways to arrive or leave such planetary bodies than using chemical rockets.
                Or there will be cheap access to the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Earth orbit and Venus orbit-
                Venus atmosphere and Earth surface are perhaps slightly harder.

                So if you were living in one of these 1G habs with 100,000 of people, the cost to go to the Moon or Mars should less than a month’s income of any of the 100,000 people
                living there. They should have that choice, unless their some totalitarian government
                which prevents this choice. Or there is for some reason no available flights to these locations.
                But 1G habs could be very cheap. They could provide a cheaper apartment/condo
                than any available on Earth. People might eventually live in space, because it is cheaper.
                But people on earth, don’t stay forever in the their apartments. In fact they tend to move and/or travel, unless they are living in some kind of totalitarian state with their assigned living quarters.

                So we could have a lot of 1G habs and it’s possible more people live in them as any other location in space, or even more people living on Earth. I tend to imagine that if talking about around 1 million people living in space, that most population will be second homes in LEO- not really thinking about them having artificial gravity, but certainly possible. And it seems once the 1 billion people in space milestone is reached, then I tend think is will be most things like 1G habs and maybe more than 50% of entire space population is living in them. But these people moving around to different 1G habs [or “entertainment centers”] to earth, moon, mars, venus, mercury, and outer worlds.
                On Earth one has somewhere around 1 billion airline seats per year. Per capita I imagine people living in space are going travel more than compared to current Earthlings.
                And this is mainly because in space, one could have more abundant resources, and most significant resource [at least seeming to us, now] will be access to cheap energy.
                Solar energy, nuclear energy, and other ways to produce energy.

            • Dave Klingler says:

              That’s making things needlessly complicated. All one needs for shielding is dirt. Either use asteroid material or fire it up from the lunar surface using a mass driver. The mass driver could be built telerobotically, together with a solar array, and comes with a low infrastructure requirement.

    • Robert Clark says:

      The Moon is where we will learn how to maximize ISRU coupled with robotics and 3D printing.
      Your comment about 3D printing reminds me of an episode of “Brink” on Bloomberg TV that was rebroadcast this weekend. Among several topics, it discussed the idea of using 3D printing on the space station. According to the episode, the ISS has to carry spare parts, but most of them never get used. If you could do 3D printing you could just create these parts as needed, which would also clearly be a useful idea for long space missions to Mars, or for colonies on the Moon, or other planets.
      The episode was on Singularity University. You can view it here:

      Singularity University: Bloomberg Brink (06/04)

      http://www.bloomberg.com/video/singularity-university-bloomberg-brink-06-04-llZ8NpBqQB65izwV_sjNeQ.html

      It also had a segment with Dennis Wingo discussing his efforts to rescue Apollo images. This segment appears at about the 12 minute mark.

      Bob Clark

  4. Hubert Davis says:

    Where is the next opportunity for mankind to develop space at a profit? Such a system will induce and surely lead to accomplishment of all of Dennis’s Research, Development and Settlement RDS objectives.

    Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP. formerly SPSS) needs a fresh look, well beyond that done by NASA two decades or so ago. In 2011, a small group of volunteers undertook a straight forward task, simply update the 1979 Boeing Reference System. See solar high.org

    Our assumption was that the first generation of this system will be launched from Earth by a new fully-reusable space infra-structure we need anyway and have known how to do for this entire interval. Why was this not done then? Wrong-headed political decisions were made that flew in the face of ample data supporting far better designs for space transportation options.

    We updated the1979 Boeing Reference System to the 34 years later technologies that now exist, including robotics to replace the 500 person factory in high orbit. The Solar High Study Group has identified such a system and predicts from it that it is sufficiently better than that of 1979 that the business case will now likely close. For example, the specific mass, expressed in kg/kWe of ground output, is reduced by at least one third, reducing both equipment cost and that cost parameter most heavily criticized: launch cost.

    This conclusion requires confirmation by a larger group, conducting a comprehensive survey of this and many other design options for SBSP, at least one including the establishment of lunar developments adequate to supply much of the mass to Geo-stationary orbit to built a second generation of these massive but vital sources of base load electricity for Earth. The cost of this work will be higher than the $20 million spent in the late 1970s, but only due to the decreased value of the U.S. dollar, not the need for more human effort.

    We suggest a federally-assisted one or two year program of about $200 million divided evenly between systems studies and an austere but effective test program to reduce program risks, much of it giving new purpose to the ISS. Such a program should welcome and include participation by friendly nations and the growing U.S. private sector and led by NASA as its new principal mission, not by the scandal-ridden DoE overwhelmed by its many present interests, some considered by many to be ill-founded.

    • denniswingo says:

      Hubert, while I agree with you Space Solar Power advocates are their own worst enemy. Space Solar Power will play a role and that is where some business will be generated by the lunar shipyards. Lunar Orbit is far closer in energy terms to GEO than Low Earth Orbit.

      • billgamesh says:

        Space Solar Power Advocates have done great damage with their over the top sermonizing. It is just not practical. Sadly, another concept is often placed in the same category when it is IMO the most exciting and world-changing idea ever proposed.
        Criswell’s Lunar Solar Power is the ultimate alternate energy plan but for whatever idiotic reason was not embraced by the space power crowd.
        Worst mistake they ever made and I hold a grudge against them for it. I do not like discussing anything with them any more than I like giving my time to space elevator nuts.

    • Dave Klingler says:

      Hu, I was glad to see your comment here. I’d like to have a conversation with you some time soon. I hope you’re doing well.

      You ask an important question that people rarely ask. “Where is the next opportunity for mankind to develop space at a profit?”

      The operative word is “where”, given that this is a discussion concerning destinations. The answer should be obvious, but it’s constantly and consciously overlooked.

      “In Earth Orbit.”

      There are a lot of common basic assumptions that need to be re-examined before an article like this one can be written.

  5. G. Ryan Faith says:

    Dennis,

    A good article, in which you make some very relevant points.

    I don’t know if you are familiar with the Space Foundation’s report “Pioneering: Sustaining U.S. Leadership in Space” which was released a few months ago. (http://www.spacefoundation.org/programs/research-and-analysis/pioneering)

    More recently, I have been currently working on addressing some of the particular errors in thinking that you point out. Underlying all of it is this sense of purpose. Or more accurately, a problem with the very common modern tendency to use words like strategy and policy to mean roughly anything about deciding how to allocate resources going forward. This has hamstrung meaningful long-term consideration of the point of a space program.

    Moreover, discussion at that level is too often dismissed for being too general and lacking specifics. Yet those criticisms seem to ignore the fact that any particular set of specifics that is generated will fail to hold together cohesively without any higher-level conceptual links.

    In any case, the work done in the 2005 book on a Theory of Space Power is an important contribution in an area that will need a lot of help in coming years.

    Best,

    G. Ryan Faith

    • denniswingo says:

      G.

      Absolutely. In my chapter in the Space Power Theory book I talked about how our space policy has had an underlying assumption that began in the MacNamara era that was termed a “geocentric outlook”. Here is the relevant passage.

      The definition of geocentric within the context of a discussion of spacepower theory is as “a mindset and public policy that sees spacepower and its application as focused primarily on actions, actors, and influences on earthly powers, the earth itself, and its nearby orbital environs.”

      Dr. John Marburger was the first high level head of OSTP in decades that understood this and sought to expand our sense of purpose, which is the literal definition of vision beyond the near Earth orbital environs. However, the 1980’s OSTP head George Keyworth at least understood what questions to ask in framing a policy, also from my chapter….

      I think we have to ask, right at the outset, where we go from the lunar base? What steps should we be taking in parallel with the lunar base, and what comes after it? Do we go to Mars, and if so, why? Do we try to visit an asteroid? Remember that much of the momentum of our space program was lost after Apollo because we treated the Moon landing as an end in itself. This time we should know enough to define and update our goals in space in broad terms related to our future, not in terms of individual projects. And we should cast as wide a net as possible in creating this vision of our future, involving the American public and being driven by their enthusiasm as well as our own.

      Marburger echoed this in his 2008 speech that I reference in this missive yet our federal policy shows little coherence in the matter and NASA’s plans are nothing but ad hoc throw something against the wall and see if it sticks approach…

      You are absolutely correct that without framing why we do this with a high level guiding principle that is adhered to by those implementing policy (a key failure of NASA after the announcement of the VSE) then we end up with Marburgers monuments to futility.

      A stark example of this was that after Bush’s speech, which was stellar in laying out the high level including In-Situ Resource Utilization, NASA decided that the Technology Readiness Level for this aspect was too low so they nixed it from the entire effort. This was exacerbated by Norm Augustine who I am told simply did not believe in ISRU and so forbade any mention of it in his 2008 report or how it could be used to lower the cost of Constellation.

      It may be that we must rely on Plank’s dictum and apply it to space….

      “Science advances, one funeral at a time.”

      Thanks for your comment!

      • billgamesh says:

        I think there is confusion between In “Space” Resource Utilization and In “Situ” Resource Utilization.
        Because of private space propaganda many people seem to think that fuel depots in space are ISRU. Popularizing such depots in space are a deception IMO. They are hyped by basing the performance numbers on LH2 and LOX. I am extremely skeptical that the difficulties inherent (and it is inherently difficult) in storing and transferring cryogens in space can be overcome. Many take it as an article of faith that these difficulties MUST be overcome or we are not going anywhere. IMO the HLV is the solution to cislunar transport and going beyond the Moon requires nuclear energy.
        We do not need fuel depots. They are a private space gimmick to justify their cheap and nasty hobby rockets.
        That said, storable propellant fuel depots are different animals and may have a niche. But I do not like even admitting this because such support is automatically misused.

        • denniswingo says:

          Because of private space propaganda many people seem to think that fuel depots in space are ISRU.

          I know virtually all of the advocates of propellant depots and none of them think this. Propellant depots benefit from ISRU above just about all other endeavors though. Gordon Woodcock as far back as 1984 was writing papers on the massive leverage that ISRU derived water and propellant depots bring to exploration.

          • billgamesh says:

            “I know virtually all of the advocates of propellant depots and none of them think this.”

            Well, you don’t know many people who comment on space blogs then because many seem to think that fuel depots in space are ISRU.

  6. quantumg says:

    If this is going to be a chapter in a book, you’re going to have to explain all these things that you are talking about. People in 20 years are not going to know what “NASA’s plan” or “the asteroid mission” refers to.

  7. Jeff Smith says:

    Dennis,
    A good article and I would enjoy seeing it expanded upon. I’ve been thinking about your post since it came out and want to comment.

    Wouldn’t you agree that Earth policy (crafted and executed by Earth politicians) will be inherently Earth/Geocentric by definition. An Earth-based politician has to satisfy Earth-based voters and interests.

    Given that Space Policy is now crafted and executed by Congress (politics abhors a vacuum, like the one presidents have created for decades), it seems they are marginally good at deciding what they want and then getting it through legislation. While the apparatus for creating and executing space policy is a bit backwards, those who really care (space state representatives + several others) about it CAN execute according to their goals. Senators and Representatives have been creating and executing their own policies for generations, and when they combine together, this becomes de facto national policy. Due to a lack of term limits, these de facto policies can remain in force long after a particular president is gone. It seems the place to really focus a policy effort is on such state/national politicians.

    Finally, I think your quoting of Marburger doesn’t go far enough. I’ve always loved the SSE model he put forth: Science, Security, Economy. Those are the 3 big drivers of our space programs, the defense one, the NASA one and the telecom one.

    If a politician says they want to forward a US SSE space policy, they are not bound by programs OR destinations. They simply compare the options they have (technically feasible programs), with the budget available in each bucket.

    Executing policy then becomes a simple exercise. Budgets are relatively fixed, and proportional to public interest in a topic, so you don’t even have to worry about that too much. Next you just ask, “D

    • denniswingo says:

      Jeff

      You are right on Marburger’s SSE shorthand. I think that Marburger was wildly underestimated as OSTP head, he was a true visionary.

      To address the geocentrism, this is the case only when there is no realization that in looking outside of the geocentric box that you can help the geosphere….

      It is no more geocentric to state that we are developing the economy of the solar system than we would have been east coast centric to say in 1805 that we are going to develop the west coast. It was culturally understood that the development of the continent was to the benefit of the people who lived on the east coast by making the nation stronger economically.

      The problem with a simple SSE shorthand is the same problem that happened to NASA when the VSE was allowed to morph into ESAS/Constellation, that is Dr. Griffin ignored the parts of the VSE that did not comport with his predisposition to want to build a heavy lift rocket. By stating that the economic development of the solar system is your goal, SSE then becomes the three pillars of strategy, rather than the basis itself. Thus when looking at individual tactical implementations, lets use science for example, then you look back up the totem pole and make sure that your science missions comport with the overall goal. Here is an implementation example.

      !. Economic development of the solar system.
      2. Science criterion

      The identification of Near Earth Objects (NEA’s) down to 10 meters is desired. This touches upon S, S, and E. Thus the requirements for a telescope would be.

      1. Identify objects down to 10 meters.

      This requires a telescope with a limiting magnitude of about -25-27.

      The science rational is that this will give us a lot of information on the creation and evolution of the solar system.

      However, it does nothing for E. An additional requirement would be….

      2. Add a hyperspectral imager to allow for the characterization of the minerals of the objects…

      Go back to requirement for limiting magnitude and you might need another order (-26-28) in order to gain enough light to do the characterization.

      It also drives another requirement to increase the bandpass of the telescope from visible light (400-800 nanometers) to (400-10,000 nanometers)

      Now with S,S, and E satisfied, I now have a mission that no only identifies these objects, we can now do a preliminary classification of these objects into their meteoric taxonomies (Class S, M, CC, or whatever).

      The science is enhanced as well as with the new data the evolution of the solar system can be more fully explained, while also giving the mission planners and even the economists the data that they need to get a preliminary evaluation of the economic potential of these bodies as well as allow for more sophisticated mission planning to visit these bodies.

      This also satisfies the security requirement as now we know the dangerous objects down to the appropriate size. This is still fully consistent with the economic development of the solar system meme.

      • Jeff Smith says:

        Thanks for the thoughtful response Dennis, I address the VSE first and then the balance of your example second.

        The VSE is an interesting story. I think it’s amazing how many of us shout that what NASA needs is a little benevolent neglect (“they’re rocket scientist, just let them do their jobs”), but when someone actually does it, we aren’t happy with the result? Of course, we say that because we think if WE were in charge, it would be fine, it’s always the OTHER guy that is messing it up. Turns out, a rocket scientist acting on his/her own, NOT being controlled by the policy wonks (dirty word here: political oversight) gets you a rocket that DOESN’T SUPPORT THE CURRENT POLICY! All of us might need to accept the fact that political oversight can be VERY helpful, if it’s done in the right way.

        Now for the balnce of your comment.

        You stole the arguement right out of my keyboard. I wasn’t going to fill up space on your site unnecessarily, but that is one of my prime examples. I would go the next step and add some of the additional steps.

        Give NASA the cateloguing mandate “All NEOs larger than X”, and then give DoD the defense mandate “No Tunguska Events.” NASA is funded to study and quantify the targets. The DoD actually does research to actually protect us from such an event. Companies like PRI, DSI and others get hardware demo contracts to find more NEOS. NASA does additional missions to NEOs intercept/modify the orbit of a NEO. DoD creates a capability to have a fast detection scheme to monitor uncatalogued objects and warm a local population, and they create a separate capability to move large known NEOs (PRI/DSI/others get the follow-on contracts). If you can move/destroy a NEO, you can harvest it too. PRI/DSI/others have been given the tools to detect/intercept/harvest non-Earth resources while making us safer in the process. Science/Security/Economy work together to make the world a better place.

        The issue I don’t see with Settlement as one of the S’s is that I think settlement is a result of pursuing other goals, not the goal in itself. Unless you are a rejected religious minority that has to leave (and hopefully we live in a tolerant enough society where that doesn’t have to happen again), migration is usually for economic reasons, no migratory reasons. Being a good Californian, the boom to the state came when the 49ers came for the gold. Few made it big in that industry, but many other industries popped up to support it and provided many more jobs to immigrants. The modern version of Fort Point was started in 1953, BECAUSE California was now economically and strategically valuable. As much as I want to see settlement, I see settlement as being a by-product of needing a populace to take advantage of an economic opportunity, not as a goal for its own sake. (Also, I can’t imagine that any politician can sell settlement to their voters either. The response will be: “I want a job for me and my kids” “I want you to protect me from X”.)

        Sometimes the order of the story changes: Science (your exploration) finds gold, an Economy develops to mine, Security is brought in to protect it. With the interstate highway system, Security needs create a highway system to move troops, an Economy develops to take advantage of it, which leads America to having the greatest Supply Chain/Logistics capability in the work. Other times, Science discovers atomic clocks, Security develops GPS and then our Economy is greatly helped by cellphone navigation. Some of my other favorite examples can be constructed around the Internet, Harrison’s chronometer and the very reason why we have space travel: ballistic missiles. But these are points we already agree on.

        From what you’ve said, it seems you want a strategy that contains the idea/goal settlement but you also realize that after Newt’s experience, no one has ANY appreciation for it. Our problem has always been we don’t have a good elevator pitch for the average voter (and there his/her politician), which may indicate that our product is not one that anyone wants to buy. If we base our goals around things that we already know work in the political sphere: “Use Space to enrich the lives of Americans with improvements in Science, Security and Economy”, I think we can get people and politiicans to say “that’s a good idea, that is something someone should be working on.”

        From the examples we’ve both cited, I think there is a simple line to draw from an SSE policy to an implementation that includes settlement. But, instead of settlement being an explicit goal, it is merely a natural result of from executing that policy (and hopefully a self-sustaining one too).

        • denniswingo says:

          With the interstate highway system, Security needs create a highway system to move troops,

          The act is the “Interstate and Defense Highway Act of 1956″.

          It is squarely in the realm that I wrote about before as a multifaceted system that incorporated economics and security. Eisenhower as a young solider was part of a group in the 1920’s that drove military vehicles across the nation on the road network and thus knew the deplorable state of American road transport compared to the German system that he helped to deconstruct a few decades later. It was an integrated idea to strengthen on Ike’s part, too bad we don’t have leaders like that anymore.

          SSE did not keep Mike Griffin from turning the VSE into Constellation even though Marburger explicitly warned that funding would not be available should there not be a clear linkage between exploration and economic development. Apollo on steroids simply did not cut it.

          • billgamesh says:

            I have to go with Mike Griffin. I have read endless comments demonizing this guy. We have actually had three chances to make a go of it in space since Apollo. The first was the Shuttle which the orbiter made useless. The second was Constellation and that died because IMO Bush was never serious about it in the first place. The DOD budget is proof we could have easily had Constellation flying to the Moon. And the third was Sidemount which would have worked well and was what the Shuttle program should have been to start with. When it died it broke my heart. Liberty would still work well IMO and using the SLS as a cargo vehicle would be the best deal except for one thing; transporting fissionable material to the Moon is the only hope for any Human Space Fight Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit (HSF-BELO). So combining crew and cargo vehicles in the SLS may be a blessing in disguise. The escape system on the SLS is the safest way to transport this ultimate hazardous material directly to the Moon. Not to say that Liberty could not take nuclear material up but then it would have to be docked with an Earth Departure Stage in orbit and that is just one more risk factor.

            • denniswingo says:

              The second was Constellation and that died because IMO Bush was never serious about it in the first place.

              Constellation died because Dr. Griffin was trying to sell ten pounds of crap with only a five pound bag. He ignored all advise that told him that a heavy lift architecture would not be funded by congress and I have written in detail about it. He had no vision when it came to the architecture level and repeatedly told people that it was his job to build the rocket. His job was to sell the vision and do it in a manner that was within the amount of money that congress was willing to spend. He failed, and failed massively.

              • billgamesh says:

                “- repeatedly told people that it was his job to build the rocket-”
                Because he understood that only that architecture could do the job. He did not fail, congress did. IMO he was the only one doing his job. Ten pounds of crap? I think someone playing the blame game to justify their own agenda is the one holding the bag of crap.

              • Robert Clark says:

                He ignored all advise that told him that a heavy lift architecture would not be funded by congress and I have written in detail about it.

                Do you have a link to your writing that? I got the feeling that Obama was against it before the 2008 election, but I was unsure about McCain. If Congress was against funding it even before the election that means whoever won it was not likely to be funded.

                Bob Clark

              • denniswingo says:

                “- repeatedly told people that it was his job to build the rocket-”
                Because he understood that only that architecture could do the job.

                You are certainly entitled to that opinion, but it is wrong. He ignored virtually every expert in the field, including most of the people in Huntsville who built the Saturn V.

                Even if you go back to the SEI 90 study of 1989 it did not require an Ares/NLS/Apollo class heavy lifter. In 1965 JSC came up with an alternate architecture to the Saturn system called Lunar Gemini that would have gotten us to the Moon without the heavy lifter.

                You make a lot of definitive statements but have little to back them up except as assertion that since we did it that way in Apollo that this is the only way to do it. You would be wrong. Read the NASA CE&R final reports from 2005, you might learn something.

              • denniswingo says:

                Do you have a link to your writing that? I got the feeling that Obama was against it before the 2008 election, but I was unsure about McCain. If Congress was against funding it even before the election that means whoever won it was not likely to be funded.

                Bob, sorry about the nesting thing.

                The day that the ESAS architecture was announced to joy in the street in Huntsville I stated in the Huntsville times that it was doomed (2005). I have some articles in the archives at NASA watch where I go into this in great detail, you may just have to dig them up.

              • billgamesh says:

                “You make a lot of definitive statements but have little to back them up except as assertion that since we did it that way in Apollo that this is the only way to do it. ”

                Apollo worked. Nothing else has. That is my assertion. If you think it is wrong you have a problem with the truth that I cannot help you with. If you say I am wrong and he “ignored virtually every expert in the field, including most of the people in Huntsville who built the Saturn V” then you need to cite something besides a plan to use Gemini.

                That is a red herring if I ever saw one. Red herrings and Ad Hominems are not convincing to anyone except those with the same case of tunnel vision you have.

                Griffin saw the separation of crew and cargo vehicles as a necessary evolutionary step and I tend to agree with him. Except in the case of the SLS it may be a blessing in disguise for transporting nuclear material to the Moon.

              • denniswingo says:

                Apollo worked. Nothing else has. That is my assertion.

                While that assertion is true, it is uninformative. Battleships won wars, until they didn’t.

              • Robert Clark says:

                Dennis, I can probably find it on Nasawatch your writings on the lack of funding for Constellation by searching the Nasawatch archives.

                Bob Clark

              • Robert Clark says:

                Thanks for the link:

                http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1538

                You state that the proposals for the VSE didn’t require anything more than a 70 metric ton launcher. Do you know of architectures for returning to the Moon under such a scenario?

                Bob Clark

              • denniswingo says:

                Bob, the CE&R reports should be available either through NASAWatch or through the National Space Society. NONE Of the reports required a 100 ton class heavy lifter.

                It is interesting that it is extremely difficult to find any of the CE&R documents on the Internet. I did some searching and the only one I found was the interim report from t/Space.

                I actually have ALL of the CE&R reports. I should put them on my server for reference.

            • Robert Clark says:

              Apollo worked. Nothing else has. That is my assertion.

              By that argument Griffin should have simply remade Apollo. :-)
              That’s not actually so farfetched now with the push to make the F-1b version of the Saturn V F-1 engine.

              Bob Clark

      • billgamesh says:

        “This also satisfies the security requirement as now we know the dangerous objects down to the appropriate size.”

        Detection is not deflection. That does not satisfy any security requirement and saying so actually makes the situation worse. Shame on you Dennis.

        • denniswingo says:

          You know, you don’t know what you are talking about half the time. You have to know what is out there before you can plan to deal with it.

          • billgamesh says:

            “-you don’t know what you are talking about-”

            I think I do know that detection is not deflection and saying just detecting something is satisfying a security requirement when only deflecting AND deflecting it does is a lie.
            Every time I throw the B.S. flag on you your language get’s more insulting and condescending. I am surprised you have not banned me yet.

            • denniswingo says:

              Every time I throw the B.S. flag on you your language get’s more insulting and condescending. I am surprised you have not banned me yet.

              I usually give someone enough rope to hang themselves and you are performing quite admirably. When I wake up in the morning and I see over a dozen posts in the middle of the night I know that I have struck a nerve.

      • billgamesh says:

        “This also satisfies the security requirement as now we know the dangerous objects down to the appropriate size.”

        Detection is not deflection. That does not satisfy any security requirement and saying so actually makes the situation worse. Shame on you Dennis.

  8. Jeff Smith says:

    Dennis,
    A good article and I would enjoy seeing it expanded upon. I’ve been thinking about your post since it came out and want to comment.

    Wouldn’t you agree that Earth policy (crafted and executed by Earth politicians) will be inherently Earth/Geocentric by definition. An Earth-based politician has to satisfy Earth-based voters and interests.

    Given that Space Policy is now crafted and executed by Congress (politics abhors a vacuum, like the one presidents have created for decades), it seems they are marginally good at deciding what they want and then getting it through legislation. While the apparatus for creating and executing space policy is a bit backwards, those who really care (space state representatives + several others) about it CAN execute according to their goals. Senators and Representatives have been creating and executing their own policies for generations, and when they combine together, this becomes de facto national policy. Due to a lack of term limits, these de facto policies can remain in force long after a particular president is gone. It seems the place to really focus a policy effort is on such state/national politicians.

    Finally, I think your quoting of Marburger doesn’t go far enough. I’ve always loved the SSE model he put forth: Science, Security, Economy. Those are the 3 big drivers of our space programs, the defense one, the NASA one and the telecom one.

    If a politician says they want to forward a US SSE space policy, they are not bound by programs OR destinations. They simply compare the options they have (technically feasible programs), with the budget available in each bucket.

    Executing policy then becomes a simple exercise. Budgets are relatively fixed, and proportional to public interest in a topic, so you don’t even have to worry about that too much. Next you just ask, “does this program enhance the SSE posture of the United States when considered in context of other ongoing/future programs?”, and finally, “can I pay for it?” If a group of Senators and Representatives can say yes, the program moves forward. Because they are working on a Geocentric space policy, their efforts improve the nation’s position, and they get reelected.

    I’m always concerned with policies that don’t seem to benefit those who are paying for them.

  9. Steve Garcia says:

    In the middle of reading, I am going to comment before finishgin, before I forget this…

    At the end of the day, if we as interested citizens can come up with a policy and sense of purpose in this realm we follow in the footsteps of those in our history like Fulton, Whitney, Huntington and others who gain popular financial and ultimately political support for our vision.

    Not long ago I had reason to read a bit about the developments of canals in the USA in the period roughly 1780-1860, let’s say. There was public money put into canals and there was private money put in. There were hundreds of canals built, and most of them were either white elephants or were profitable for relatively short periods of time. The pro for canals was mainly cheap transport. For their day they were also relatively quick, since they were built on fairly direct lines between industrial centers.

    Canals were trumped by railroads. Railroads were also built with some public money and some private money. Just this week I was reading about the St Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Railway, a short-lived endeavor that became part of the Missouri Pacific Railway system, and which I had, as a kid, ridden on part of. Reading of the history of both that and the MoPac (which my dad worked for), I was reminded how short-lived technologies can be.

    That resurrected my reading about canals. Canals and railroads – now nearly forgotten means of transport, both VERY important in their day. Both saw fortunes made and lost, and MANY of the endeavors were lost losers from the beginning. As railroads supplanted canals, air travel and semi-trailers have reduced railroads to secondary status, even though they have not killed them altogether.

    At this point in space “exploration” both of these seem to have lessons to teach us. One is that many of the private efforts will fail, taking fortunes down with those failures. Another is that, no matter what we do in the near future, some other future development will supplant the early ones (no matter HOW politically or commercially connected its main actors are). But we will stumble forth, with the best technology we can muster in the present.

    And as, in the beginning, canal builders did not see railroads out in the future, and as railroad builders did not see Interstate highways and air cargo out there, either, we now cannot see what next level will come for space. But we need SOMETHING NOW, whatever we can muster, to get it started. The railroads were not invented to succeed canals, thought they did. Railroads only became more successful than canals over time, as it became apparent that railroads did the job better – but if the canals had not carried industrial growth to a certain point, railroads themselves would not have been the success that they were. Similarly, railroads lost out because other means did the job better – and because railroads abetted the expansion of the economy so much, air cargo, interstates, and semis were able to step in.

    Each of those steps built on the success of its predecessors, plus the expansion of opportunities the earlier means helped to create and sustain.

    For space it means that we will go with today’s technology.- but don’t fail to expect new transport technologies to evolve. Railroads were around from about the middle of the life spans of canals. At the time of their invention, few thought that trains would drive canals out of business. Airplanes were around about half the life span of railroads. At the time of the Wright Brothers’ early successes not many people could see them taking over for trains and putting trains on a siding to nowhere. Also, few could see in the 1950s and 1960s that those interstate highways would allow trucking to take so much business away from trains.

    The heyday of canals lasted about 80 years. The heyday of trains lasted from about 1850-1980. Right now space travel as we (minimally) know it is about, let;’s say, 50 years old. Since each of the successors came along about midway through the life span if its predecessor, it seems likely that the successor to our current way of “doing space” is either already out there or will VERY SOON be on the horizon.

    LOOK FOR IT. You probably will NOT recognize it for what it represents. Not yet. But perhaps soon.

    Whatever, do not expect us to keep on doing the same old, same old for very much longer. As they say, at the opening of hostilities, most generals are fighting the last war. NASA is forging ahead with Neil Armstrong and Space Shuttles still in its head. Last century’s tech. The 21st century tech is not yet here. But wait. . . and look for it.

    Steve Garcia

    • denniswingo says:

      Also, few could see in the 1950s and 1960s that those interstate highways would allow trucking to take so much business away from trains.

      I agree with much you have to say but not this one. Rail travel was already dying by the 1950’s and by the early 1970’s most cities passenger rail stations were demolished. Yes it was by the competition of the interstates but ironically it was not cargo traffic on the freeways that killed rail travel it was personal travel. Today rail transport of cargo is the one area where they are competitive with trucking, especially intermodal shipping.

      LOOK FOR IT. You probably will NOT recognize it for what it represents. Not yet. But perhaps soon.

      Oh I have some pretty good ideas in this area already…

  10. Steve Garcia says:

    With the EDS policy the Moon, Mars, asteroids and even free space become part of a greater whole of the economic development of the solar system for the good of ourselves and all mankind. Thus the EDS policy has a fundamental moral aspect to it

    This has a sense of Horace Greeley’s “Go West, young man! Go west!”

    But it wasn’t moral aspects that produced the economic marvel what was the United States in the period 1850-1900. It was inching along the economic roadway – new businesses starting up, often in new places, and often to fail – but sometimes to succeed. It wasn’t Lewis & Clark type exploration that succeeded, it was little people and big people, out there in the middle of freaking nowhere, taking chances, providing services, and needing supplies.

    YES, as part of the greater whole – but not in any moral sense, just as parts of an economy – as consumers, mostly.. For the good of all mankind? . . . Perhaps…

    Steve Garcia

    • denniswingo says:

      The moral aspect of building a nation of free people underpinned everything in the 19th century. It still does today but the moral aspect has been twisted by those who seek power by stealing the people’s money to hand out to their supporters.

  11. Steve Garcia says:

    If the trend of resource consumption demand increase continues unabated, there are three likely potential outcomes. The first is collapse, forecast by the Limits to Growth school of thought. The second, and more likely scenario is fierce national economic competition leading to wars over diminishing resources. The third, and most desirable, is to increase the global resource base by the economic and industrial development of the inner solar system.

    Thus the EDS policy has a fundamental moral aspect to it in that it is presented as an alternative to the current seeming direction of the world toward war as we fight over the resources of our single planet. This war is already underway in the economic sense with the increasingly fierce competition for energy and other resources between China, India, Europe, and Japan.

    The fierce competition does a couple of things. First, it drives up prices. Secondly, it gives suppliers the idea that not only TODAY’S money is there to be made, but much MORE.

    And what comes out of that? The drive to find new sources.

    Right now, that means exploring for new mineral sources. THAT is where “Limits to Growth” completely missed the boat. We have no fewer years of oil reserves now than we had at the time (1972) that that book was written. The author simply did not have the slightest CLUE about the nature of what drives economic growth. Not that I am an expert, though.

    But one thing I do know right now is this:

    No matter how much it costs to find minerals here on Earth, it is still far, far cheaper than to go get it from asteroids or Mars – or even the Moon. This is not one of the options you gave, Dennis. Option 4 is that mining companies will go out and find new sources here on Earth. And it is one that will be pursued for a long number of decades to go yet.

    Fierce competition exists or will exist? The mining companies will be wetting their lips at that future. That will afford them all the reason in the world to go find new sources. It is what they do, anyway. Don’t leave them out of these equations, because then you’d be making the same mistake that “Limits to Growth” made.

    I believe in people. The author of “Limits to Growth” does not seem to. You do, from what I read here. People will find a way. And they will find it HERE, first, before looking out to the asteroids or Mars or the Moon.

    In time, yes, we will need the inner Solar System.

    Is that time now? Not yet.

    When? Maybe 100 years. Maybe 1,000.

    “I’ve got one word for you, Benjamin Braddock. Thorium.”

    More on that….

    Steve Garcia

    • denniswingo says:

      But one thing I do know right now is this:

      No matter how much it costs to find minerals here on Earth, it is still far, far cheaper than to go get it from asteroids or Mars – or even the Moon.

      You don’t “know” this anymore than the people that wrote Limits to Growth “knew” that resources on the Earth were going to come into short supply, both are faith statements backed by preconceived notions about how the future is going to evolve.

      I know about Thorium as well and I am a supporter of thorium fission systems. It is still a dirty system that will itself need to be transcended.

      • Steve Garcia says:

        My “knowing” is based on the billion(s) per mission to do anything in space beyond satellites. I put that against the cost of mining. Even if deeper mines quintuple in costs, is there any comparison? That is my opinion, take it or leave it.

        Just getting minerals down to Earth’s surface is an extremely expensive operation, as we would need to do it with today’s tech. NASA has always burned through tens of millions in minutes landing space craft. And if the cargo is raw ore. what is the net cost? If pre-processed, that is much more dollar smart for that phase, but then there is the cost of the processing phase, say, on the Moon. MANY billions as it looks today, to get all the parts up there and get the plant built and running. That is the kind of expenditure that it is very tough to get through Congress. ***

        A factory on the Moon? How far out there is that? 100 years? With the option being to bring down raw ores, wow, is that going to be expensive per pound.

        IMHO, minerals found in space might best be used in space, versus shuttling down to Earth’s surface. That kills two birds with one stone – neither having to put minerals up nor bring them down.

        …Thorium is less dirty than all that. The only dirty material is the start-up Uranium. Thorium fuel is not radioactive till it is run through the jacket of the reactor. The reactor isn’t needed at least until orbit is achieved. So, at a minimum, the Uranium could be stored in a very robust “safe” until the reactor is in space and ready for start-up.

        *** The more I am learning about space’s future, the more it all sounds like second-guessing what Congress will pay for, and with the other tens of thousands of lobbyists out there competing for Federal dollars, it all becomes politicking instead of science or industry. The two most likely outcomes, it seems: China does it instead of the USA, or it will have to be privately done. Pandering to Congress is going to get nowhere, especially as long as the Republicans control either branch of Congress and those lobbyists are in the ear of everyone on Capitol Hill. All the Republicans want to do is cut every non-military spending program and give tax breaks to the wealthy – and hamstring every other program with cloture and filibusters. In that ‘marketplace’, what chance does NASA have to do anything meaningful? With this system, until NASA spends a billion dollars a year lobbying, NASA will always get less than a tenth of what is needed.

        It seems NASA’s priorities are inadequate, and their influence is almost nil. With decisions going through committee after committee, I’m not holding my breath that anything will happen of significance before 2050.

        I am on your side here, Dennis, even if I don’t see everything the same way you do. Space WILL happen. Enterprises in space. All sorts of things. But it won’t happen with today’s tech, even if that is all we have to work with now. I am rooting for it to happen, but Congress being a boulder in a drainpipe, nothing is going to happen until someone does an end-around on Congress. My money is on the Chinese, even if they are far behind right now. We had the ball in our possession, but we sat on it too long.

        I am relatively new to all this, and the politics of it nauseates me. Progress will only be made by those who can bypass the politics. IMHO.

        • denniswingo says:

          My “knowing” is based on the billion(s) per mission to do anything in space beyond satellites. I put that against the cost of mining. Even if deeper mines quintuple in costs, is there any comparison? That is my opinion, take it or leave it.

          Steve, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but there are two trends that are working to close the cost gaps…

          Here is a paper regarding the increasing expense of terrestrial mining…

          Crucial Challenges to Discovery and Mining – Tomorrow’s Deeper Ore Bodies

          http://www.segweb.org/pdf/news/daniel-wood/Crucial-Challenges-to-Discovery-and-Mining-Tomorrows-Deeper-Ore-Bodies-Text-Only.pdf

          Take a look at SpaceX for the first evidence of declining cost. Also, NASA is not your touchstone for considering the cost of extraterrestrial mining. NASA is not set up to minimize costs but to maximize government priorities.

          The work that I and others are doing will continue to help decrease these costs. At some point the two costs will cross each other. I also take issue with your claim that returning materials is extremely expensive. It is actually pretty cheap to do. Read up on aerocapture.

          I am relatively new to all this, and the politics of it nauseates me. Progress will only be made by those who can bypass the politics. IMHO.

          In this we agree….

          • billgamesh says:

            SpaceX is actually the cost going up since what they are doing is essentially worthless. The hobby rocket to the ISS and space tourism is a dead end and a complete waste of money.
            A HLV and a 6 flights a year to the Moon to build a permanent base is the only worthwhile goal. Such a base enables all other things and without it there is no hope of success.
            Private space disgusts me.

            • denniswingo says:

              Private space disgusts me.

              Yea and if a frog had wings it would not bump its rear when it jumped. Those of us who work these issues day in and day out understand that what you want is not necessarily what you get. The key is to do what you want with what you get. This was the genius of Paul Spudis’s observations about how much money congress was willing to give NASA. NASA gets a certain amount of money, the task is to figure out how to do exploration within that budget. This is something that Dr. Griffin never understood and he has almost destroyed human spaceflight because of it.

              • billgamesh says:

                “Those of us who work these issues day in and day out understand that what you want is not necessarily what you get.”

                Then you don’t get it. If there is not enough money to do it then it cannot be done. Nobody “almost destroyed human spaceflight.” It could be he almost made it happen if you discount LEO as human spaceflight- and I do. Space travel is not going in circles at very high altitude Dennis. To travel you have to go somewhere. And the last time anybody did was Apollo 17. I am not real knowledgeable about Mike Griffin or any of the people who get all the blame for our present situation. I just happen to believe what he tried to make happen would have worked and also agree that reusability is a myth.

              • denniswingo says:

                I am not real knowledgeable about Mike Griffin or any of the people who get all the blame for our present situation.

                Yes that is quite obvious.

                I just happen to believe what he tried to make happen would have worked and also agree that reusability is a myth.

                Belief in order to be more than a bug fart in the wind has to have some practical basis. I agree and have stated so publicly, that if the U.S. had a true commitment to space along with a $40 billion a year NASA budget what Griffin wanted to do would have worked. This is the problem, the nation does not have that commitment. Our political leaders have the vision of a gnat and the vast majority of our troubles as a nation can be traced to this lack of vision (which means sense of purpose). This drives spending and the prioritization of spending.

                You can scream bloody murder all you want but you get no where with it. Paul Spudis was absolutely right when he said that the U.S. government is willing to spend X on space and thus we have to show and prove that we are good stewards of that money and make exploration happen within that amount of money. It absolutely and most certainly can be done, and we can use the assets we have, such as ISS, COTS, and our existing stable of ELV’s to do it. Technology has come a very long way since the stone knives and bear skins of the Apollo era and with ISRU, advanced manufacturing, and a little luck we can break the bonds of the Earth by building a true outpost on the Moon and by demonstrating what we can do, can help to reprioritize our national funding priorities toward more space development. This will do more to help the world than anything except fusion power.

              • billgamesh says:

                “This will do more to help the world than anything except fusion power.”

                The only two places fusion will ever work as advertised is in a star or a bomb. In the case of your flexible approach however it will not work anywhere as advertised.

                “Technology has come a very long way since the stone knives and bear skins of the Apollo era-”

                Not really. Physics has not changed. There is still no substitute for a HLV with hydrogen upper stages. Propellants have a certain exhaust velocity and there is no wishalloy or force fields to contain those propellants.

                I think YOU are the one “screaming blue bloody murder.” It will not change reality.
                There is no cheap. You want to play, you have to pay.

              • denniswingo says:

                You still have done nothing but make assertions, nothing to back it up. I have referred you to many sources to show that there are many ways to solve what is an engineering problem, not one of fundamental physics. That you are simply wedded to your ideas is your own problem.

        • taiwanjohn says:

          “Thorium fuel is not radioactive till it is run through the jacket of the reactor.”

          Actually, Thorium is radioactive by nature, it’s just a very LOW level of radioactivity. (Its half-life is 14 billion years.) I think what you’re getting at is the distinction between “fertile” and “fissile” materials. Thorium is “fertile” because it can transmute into a “fissile” element, 233U, after absorbing a neutron. (IIRC it decays to Protactinium almost instantly, then to 233U after 27 days… unless it absorbs another neutron in the meantime, in which case it jumps to another decay chain and ends up as 232U, which is also fissile, and a very “hot” gamma emitter.)

          If you’re interested in Thorium energy, I highly recommend this lecture by Kirk Sorensen. It’s long, but very detailed, and he is a very engaging speaker.

          Coincidentally, Sorensen is also a NASA alumnus, so the first 15min of this talk is an interesting look at that experience. Then he gets into all that Thorium goodness… ;-)

          Enjoy…

          –jrd

          • taiwanjohn says:

            Hm… unfortunately, WordPress has seen fit to replace my URL with an embedded video widget. This is “unfortunate” because the video has an annoying (IMO) 5min intro, which my URL was designed to skip over. You can either skip ahead manually or reconstruct the link from this broken version…

            http://www.youtube DOT com/watch?v=YVSmf_qmkbg#t=5m

            • billgamesh says:

              Yes, I will find it and watch it. Thank you. Thorium is one of those paths never taken to everyone’s misfortune. I have read one design of thorium reactor can “eat” hi-level waste and turn it into much shorter lived products. Sounds like we need some of these models to reduce nuclear waste. I would like to mention a little detail about spaceship designs using a thorium reactor; Thorium reactors emit some highly penetrating radiation but also can be designed to shut down very safely using gravity. With a spaceship using a long tether to generate artificial gravity it only makes sense to use that distance to attenuate the radiation and also the artificial gravity to shut it down in an emergency. Of course I realize it is far more complicated than that but just a couple ideas. I look forward to watching the video.

        • gbaikie says:

          Steve Garcia says:
          June 28, 2013 at 10:16 am

          “My “knowing” is based on the billion(s) per mission to do anything in space beyond satellites. I put that against the cost of mining. Even if deeper mines quintuple in costs, is there any comparison? That is my opinion, take it or leave it.”

          Basic problem with this view is it’s based upon the cost to leave Earth.
          One fundamental aspect of this is the cost would actually based on cost to return mass
          to Earth. And important part of this cost would related with Earth’s thick atmosphere, things falling in it have a terminal velocity. Or fairly easy to have something in Earth orbit
          [7.8 km/sec] or at Earth escape velocity [11 km/sec] land on the Earth surface.

          Say with the Apollo Program. One uses vast of amount of rocket fuel to get to Lunar orbit. Having vehicle that lands on the Moon using LEM. LEM is mostly rocket fuel used to land enough rocket fuel on surface, that crew can return to lunar orbit. And crew have returned from lunar surface and docked with Command Module, they are pretty close to Earth escape velocity relative to Earth. From point returning from lunar orbit to Earth surface, requires very little rocket power- about 10 Km/sec of velocity is removed by aerobraking. So the controlling factor is shape of object which enters Earth.
          So for example take a hollow sphere with say 4 inches of shell of sphere and make the total density of volume say 1/2 of density water if sphere was filled with water.
          So a 4 meter diameter sphere of solid water is volume equals 3/4 times pi times radius cubed. Radius 2. cubed is 8. Times 3.14 times 4 divide by 3 is 33.49 cubic meters.
          Water is density of 1 or cubic meter is 1 metric ton.
          So one have outer shell of 5 meter diameter made of anything, like lead or gold, or whatever as long is mass does exceed 16 tons and it has some structural strength- so
          one might use a relatively small amount of something strong, like steel or copper or whatever- though relatively weak structural strength of metallic lead or gold may enough. And then you coat sphere with something like mud [mortar, clay mud, sand glued together, whatever].
          So let’s go back and get idea of how thick the spherical shell is. Area of sphere is:
          Area equals: 4 times pi radius squared.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphere

          So 2 meters radius squared times 4 times pi is 50.24 square meters of area.
          And 1 cm thickness [1/100 meter] of water of 50 square meters is .5 cubic meter
          1.2 ton of water. Steel has density of 7.8. So 1 cm thick steel is 3.9 tons.
          Gold has density of 19.32, so 1 cm thick of gold is 9.66 tons. So from that calculation as guess, gold or lead would probably no be structurally strong enough- or it would
          be close- steel or copper easily is. Now if put say mud stuff which was fairly strong [such as brick mortar] and made it fairly thick and with same density water [it’s a fluffy mud] and was 10 cm thick. That is about 5 tons of mud and then put 10 tons of gold as inner layer about 1-2 cm thick. Then dropped on to Earth from escape velocity height [around moon distance] then and should land on surface much slower than a sky diver and without a parachute. Probably completely intact if it hit the water [and would float quite well].
          So terminal velocity of sky diver is 56 m/s [200 kilometers per hour]

          http://hypertextbook.com/facts/JianHuang.shtml

          So getting things [especial if not living] to Earth is fairly easy.
          So that’s not including the part of lifting stuff from Earth to mine stuff in space-
          which requires more wordage. So I just leave it with the beginning point that getting stuff to Earth is much easier than lifting stuff form Earth.

  12. Presidential terms last a maximum of 8 years so any plan requiring more than 8 years will fail. A long term plan containing several 4 year sections may work but we do not know the order in advance.

    We are more than 8 years, including 2-3 years getting Congressional approval, from a manned Mars mission – so it is not viable.

    A single visit to an asteroid can be passed off as Planetary Defence, particularly if we do something that will help protect the planet such as a reconnaissance (scientific research on the make up of the asteroid). Multiple visits are unlikely to receive continuing funding.

    The asteroid watch program may need funding for centuries to come.

    That forces back to the Moon and LEO. So the main long term program will have to be a Moon program with smaller missions that develop hardware useful for Mars and meteor missions.

    One day an incoming US President will be told that we can go the Mars in 6 years.

    • denniswingo says:

      Presidential terms last a maximum of 8 years so any plan requiring more than 8 years will fail. A long term plan containing several 4 year sections may work but we do not know the order in advance.

      This is simply not correct. ISS has enjoyed stable support for almost 20 years now. Many many government programs last far longer than the term of a president.

      • The ISS was not done as a single 20 year program but several shorter but related ones. For instance the modules were separate projects.

        • denniswingo says:

          Not from my history they weren’t. The modules were work package 1 of four work packages spread out amonsgt the contractors. Today the station has a $2.5 billion dollar a year budget. The station program started in 1984, that is 29 years worth of programmatic support.

          • The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer module definitely had its own funding.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_Magnetic_Spectrometer

            • denniswingo says:

              The AMS did not have funding for a very long time and it was carried as a stealth program by JSC until they could muster the political support to get that budget. I used to see in the news where it was not funded and would not be funded but yet JSC was still moving forward with it.

              AMS does nothing for your point.

          • billgamesh says:

            The first act of any worthwhile effort to expand our space program is to splash that collection of over-priced tin cans. A spaceship is always the best space station and the only place to assemble, test, and launch a true spaceship capable of multi-year missions to the outer system is the Moon.
            With the ice and solar energy on the Moon that 2.5 billion could support a base with more than a handful of people going in endless circles at very high altitude.

            • denniswingo says:

              For that amount of money and run by NASA you would have people sitting on their posteriors doing nothing on the Moon. You simply don’t understand any of the history of the development of human spaceflight architectures and for some reason are wedded to an Apollo type architecture no matter the fact that no Apollo type architecture has been able to gather the political support required to execute on it since 1967.

              • billgamesh says:

                “You simply don’t understand any of the history of the development of human spaceflight architectures and for some reason are wedded to an Apollo type architecture.”

                You simply don’t understand that I am not wedded to anything except what works. If you recall Apollo worked. You condemn me for spending too much money and then not enough. I know some history and it is full of people who are wedded to a vision of what they believe should happen while ignoring what already has. Santayana and all that.

  13. Pingback: Thorium in Space – And a New Idea | Welcome to Feet2TheFire

  14. Steve Garcia says:

    Thorium reactors can be an export from the Moon to provide megawatts of power for space ships and to be delivered to Mars to provide power on the surface there.

    Yes and yes.

    Thorium reactors will be needed in space, on Mars, on the Moon, and on asteroids.

    I am jumping out of my skin, waiting for the first Thorium LFTRs to get up and running. (Actually the second ones. Alvin Weinberg had one up and running 50 years ago at Oak Ridge.)

    As applied to space, the advantages of Thorium are (at least):
    1. Inherently safe
    2. Scalable, down to whatever size is going to be needed on a spacecraft.
    3. Thorium is super plentiful
    4. It is plentiful on the Moon (so we don’t have to ship it there)
    5. It’s energy output is extremely dense
    6. It can be used as an energy source for ship’s systems
    7. It should be able to be adapted to fuel spacecraft propulsion, in tandem with ion propulsion
    8. This much thorium (http://tiny.cc/5ajdzw) is enough for a person’s entire lifetime needs
    9. The thorium on the Moon can fuel essentially ALL future extra-lunar flights. No need to take fuel to the Moon.
    10. Thorium can actually be used to power lasers and mining equipment on the Moon, Mars, and asteroids
    11. IMHO, Thorium in tandem with lasers can be used to ablate asteroids (and probably comets), to steer them away from Earth (or perhaps, in time) TO Earth so they can be mined here, in Earth orbit
    12. Thorium can power Lunar ore processing, ore furnaces, machining, manufacturing, and assembly of more Thorium LFTR reactors – as well as building space craft. (This obviates the need to take everything to the Moon from Earth.) I would advocate the design of robotics solely for lunar use (which may or may not be made on Earth).

    That list is not intended as as comprehensive list.

    Does all of that sound expensive? Compared to using the huge rockets to lift only a few tons of cargo from Earth? Not in the long run.

    If 11 is possible – and I am certain it is – it might, in time, mean that we can use asteroids’ inherent momentum to navigate the entire solar system – simply by steering them. We can save an AWFUL lot of fuel and energy that way. They are already going over 20 km/sec. Why not use that to our advantage? And once they arrive at another asteroid, their relative speed is already there. A hair-brained idea? To be honest with you, I don’t think so. Every new technological process or method involves using the inherent advantages of what is available. In space and with Thorium, we are only just beginning to learn what is possible and what we are working with.

    Steve Garcia

    • denniswingo says:

      We are in agreement….

    • Robert Clark says:

      If 11 is possible – and I am certain it is – it might, in time, mean that we can use asteroids’ inherent momentum to navigate the entire solar system – simply by steering them. We can save an AWFUL lot of fuel and energy that way. They are already going over 20 km/sec. Why not use that to our advantage? And once they arrive at another asteroid, their relative speed is already there.

      Intriguing idea. Would you allow me to generalize it? In regards to advanced propulsion for missions to Mars and for asteroid retrieval missions, NASA is considering for example ion propulsion, nuclear propulsion, and plasma propulsion.
      I think another possibility is given little attention by NASA, and that is solar thermal propulsion. A solar furnace only requires a lens or mirror to focus the sunlight. It can reach temperatures of 3,500 °C. This would be enough to vaporize even the rock in an asteroid. The advantage here is that you could just shovel the asteroid material into the furnace and it would come out as high velocity rocket exhaust. You don’t need the complexity of a nuclear engine, or plasma generator or even the fuel for an ion drive.
      Note then that if you rendezvoused with an asteroid then you could ride it at high velocity with kilotons of propellant to Mars or other solar system destinations. And another key advantage of it is that it could be used to deflect dangerous asteroids.
      What would be needed is a lightweight material for the lens or mirror. The new graphene if it could be produced in hundred to thousand square meter sizes would certainly work. But I don’t think it even has to be that exotic. But NASA is not even investigating materials that could work to solve this question.

      Bob Clark

  15. Robert Clark says:

    Well written article. It deserves wider dessimination to business newspapers or magazines. Quite key is your statement that getting off world resources may in fact become a necessity in the upcoming years.

    Bob Clark

  16. billgamesh says:

    “We must develop a firm moral, technological, and fiscal foundation for this outward move that will attract capital investment-“

    The only “moral foundation” for such an enterprise is planetary defense. Safeguarding our species from extinction is the moral high ground above all other calls on public funds. Private funding will not work; only vast governmental resources can build spaceships and establish off-world colonies.

    “Is there a way to tie the destinations together into a cohesive policy for long term economic growth and national prosperity (and world prosperity by extension)?”

    Ten years ago Criswell’s Lunar Solar Power mega-project was proposed and nothing has come close to what it aims at accomplishing. Not only does this path provide a practical means to space solar power but it also enables a beam propulsion superhighway to the rest of the solar system.
    While we dream of colonies on Mars and in the outer system we ignore the truth that Gerard O’Neill gave to us; we must create our own worlds if we wish to live in space. A massive energy infrastructure on the Moon makes the construction of these gigantic habitats practical.

    These places like Mars and other bodies are plausible future destinations for scientific research bases but to propose them as second homes for human beings is….not plausible. Earth gravity is the first requirement and while this can be made available on low gravity bodies at some expense, on Mars it becomes more difficult just because it has too much gravity.

    Planetary Protection- Lunar Solar Power- Beam Propulsion- Artificial moons

    Get the money from the DOD to protect us from impact threats while investing in a future where the billions to come will have a high standard of living. From this basic plan comes the next step of building artificial hollow moons and after that perhaps the stars.

    It starts with a Heavy Lift Vehicle bi-monthly to the Moon for the next thirty years. No ISS, no Mars, no asteroid boondoggles. A narrow path, not a flexible one.

    • denniswingo says:

      The only “moral foundation” for such an enterprise is planetary defense. Safeguarding our species from extinction is the moral high ground above all other calls on public funds. Private funding will not work; only vast governmental resources can build spaceships and establish off-world colonies.

      You are more than welcome to your opinion, but you are wrong. Planetary defense simply does not rise above the noise of competing interests on the national budget. That is what this article is about. This is what Marburger talked about, hell this is what Von Braun talked about.

      It starts with a Heavy Lift Vehicle bi-monthly to the Moon for the next thirty years. No ISS, no Mars, no asteroid boondoggles. A narrow path, not a flexible one.

      Without private enterprise’s involvement yours is a fantasy as much as the fantasies of others that you decry. A HLV every two weeks? Get serious.

      • billgamesh says:

        “A HLV every two weeks?”
        Every two months. My mistake. And if you think I am wrong about planetary defense- that is your opinion. Just because it does not “rise above the noise” does not mean it’s morality is invalid. It does hold the moral high ground and your “private enterprise” is a question of profit, not what is right or wrong. Unless you think the market decides all things for mankind. If that is true we are truly an endangered species.

        • denniswingo says:

          Just because it does not “rise above the noise” does not mean it’s morality is invalid.

          Oh I agree, but after working with the government off and on for almost 40 years in disaster preparedness and seeing how stupidly it is addressed, I have zero hope that it is a sufficient rationale to support space.

          The larger question of planetary civilization sustainability is one that can and will get attention, if we articulate our argument in a compelling manner and then follow up with a track record of success.

          Unless you think the market decides all things for mankind. If that is true we are truly an endangered species.

          What you want communism in space? The era of solely state directed space programs is part of our problem and legacy that we must get beyond if we are to be successful

          • billgamesh says:

            “What you want communism in space?”

            The last resort of the private space fanatic is to always call someone a communist.
            Puh-leez.

            “I have zero hope that it is a sufficient rationale to support space.”

            Then you have zero hope but do not try and sell “the market” as salvation.

            • denniswingo says:

              The last resort of the private space fanatic is to always call someone a communist.
              Puh-leez.

              If private enterprise has no place in space, which is your position, then state direction is the only alternative. You might want to think through your position on this.

              • billgamesh says:

                I have Dennis. And thank you for the more polite reply.
                Only vast governmental resources can establish- private enterprise comes later. HLV’s, nuclear energy, spaceships from lunar shipyards; considering how “far” spaceX has come it will NEVER happen by way of private investment. Inflatable orbital bordellos maybe. But that is not space travel. You have to go somewhere to travel.

              • denniswingo says:

                Only vast governmental resources can establish- private enterprise comes later.

                I agree that state investment would help, but if we have to depend on it for all progress, then maybe it will be the next civilization that does it out of necessity.

                It is completely doable by private enterprise and or private visionary funding. Paul Allen is doing his part, Bill Gates is supporting thorium power, Musk with SpaceX. I simply don’t have your level of pessimism nor is that position engraved in granite.

  17. billgamesh says:

    http://iopscience.iop.org/1742-6596/41/1/015/pdf/jpconf6_41_015.pdf

    If there is such a thing as unobtanium then this is it. Americium 242m may allow for small rocket engines similar to what we have now but with a million second ISP.
    Yes, sounds pretty crazy- but the properties of Americium are well known. The problem that keeps it even being discussed anywhere is that very little is available and making enough to support large scale deep space flight would be starting an industry from scratch. Trillions of dollars probably. Several articles described flying to Mars in less than a month using such engines after a couple papers were written on it.
    The main resource on the Moon is Thorium (or so I have read). Thorium reactors for use in the outer solar system where solar energy is not practical may be a possible lunar industry. Solar energy is far more important IMO. Dr. Spudis has discussed manufacturing solar panels on the Moon. On Earth I think solar thermal and liquid air energy storage are the way to go on Earth; anyone curious can google “Ivanpah solar plant” and liquid air energy storage.

    http://www.technologyreview.com/news/514936/liquefied-air-could-power-cars-and-store-energy-from-sun-and-wind/

    I am not a fan of nuclear energy on Earth but in space I hold the exact opposite view. The place where nuclear energy in space and solar energy meet is probably near the end of this century when Lunar Solar Power allows for true airliner to space travel and nuclear waste can actually be transported off planet. Beam propulsion may allow payloads to boosted outbound but energy is required at the other end to slow down. Unless aero-braking in the 4 gas giants is workable. If nuclear energy is not required out there to slow stuff down it will still be needed to power colonies and to come back.

  18. billgamesh says:

    “Clearly, you and I have different ideas about the space program. In my opinion, SLS will never fly because it is a continuation of the “old way” of doing things. It will hit numerous cost overruns and eventually get canceled, whereas the private “NewSpace” startups like SpaceX will go there for their own reasons, regardless of government funding.”

    In my opinion, SpaceX is a house of cards and the sooner it collapses the better for space exploration.

    -regardless of government funding?
    You are talking about a company that by way of political contributions has used taxpayer dollars to subsidize a space tourism for the ultra-rich business plan. All their “innovative technology” was originally paid for by the taxpayer- their engines, heat shield, stir welding- and now we are being charged for it again. They call this low earth orbit boondoggle space exploration. Disgusting is the only word I have for it. Anyone taken in by their infomercial is……part of the problem. It is the private space flim flam and future generations will look back in amazement that anybody could have fallen for it.

    The “old way” of doing things is what landed on the Moon. Physics has not changed. These cheap and nasty hobby rockets with their clusters of low thrust engines and inferior propellants, and the idea of fuel depots- all were discarded early on. They have been re-branded as something new and wonderful when they really are still what they were a half century ago- obsolete junk.

    It’s a rip-off.

    • denniswingo says:

      In my opinion, SpaceX is a house of cards and the sooner it collapses the better for space exploration.

      Laf, such hubris and ignorance wrapped up in one sentence.

      The “old way” of doing things is what landed on the Moon. Physics has not changed. These cheap and nasty hobby rockets with their clusters of low thrust engines and inferior propellants, and the idea of fuel depots- all were discarded early on. They have been re-branded as something new and wonderful when they really are still what they were a half century ago- obsolete junk.

      There is physics and then there are architectures, and in developing the resources of the Moon and beyond is insufficient. You talk about nasty hobby rockets with low thrust engines and inferior propellants without understanding that the perfect was the enemy of the good. Von Braun did not want the Saturn V LOR architecture as he knew that it left no infrastructure in space to build upon. I have worked with and sat with many of the Germans as well as their American counterparts and know what they were thinking. If you look at the Von Braun authored Horizon report you see fuel depots and these same low thrust engines with inferior propellants.

      You are like the general that is still fighting the last war with battleships, advocating for them even after they became junk on the bottom of Pearl Harbor.

      • billgamesh says:

        “You are like the general that is still fighting the last war with battleships-”

        Your ignorance and closed mind is the very definition of hubris. Project horizon did not work. The battleships that were sunk were the junk rockets of horizon and Apollo is what won. What you are advocating is the sunken junk that failed the test of reality. Von Braun was wrong about many things. Invoking his name is not going to do your case any good Dennis. You are wrong; “fuel depots and these same low thrust engines with inferior propellants” did not work then and they will not work now. There is no substitute for a HLV with hydrogen upper stages. Von Braun autographed a picture of a Saturn V in recognition of Abe Silverstien being right about liquid hydrogen. The HLV was right and Horizon was wrong as the history of our attempt at doing building an orbital infrastructure shows; 30 years of nowhere. We have gone nowhere because we did not have exactly the resource you are calling junk on the bottom of Pearl Harbor.

        You can keep making up all the lame analogies and excuses you want Dennis; it will not change the fact that Private Space and Low Earth Orbit are both dead ends and a waste of time, money, and effort. Private Space is the enemy of good enough because it definitely is not good enough. The hobby rocket has been around for awhile, has accomplished little and will accomplish less.

        • denniswingo says:

          as the history of our attempt at doing building an orbital infrastructure shows; 30 years of nowhere.

          Uh, no.

          The history of the last 40 years is one of continuing attempts to rebuild a heavy lift rocket that was never needed in the first place. Try reading the reports rather than asserting a faith statement.

          the fact that Private Space and Low Earth Orbit are both dead ends and a waste of time, money, and effort.

          That is your opinion, not the gospel truth.

          • billgamesh says:

            “-continuing attempts to rebuild a heavy lift rocket that was never needed in the first place-”

            Uh-no. It actually was needed in the first place and continuing attempts to accomplish anything without one have resulted in……nothing being accomplished.

            Your opinion is not the gospel any more than mine is by the way.

            • denniswingo says:

              Uh-no. It actually was needed in the first place and continuing attempts to accomplish anything without one have resulted in……nothing being accomplished.

              Your opinion is not the gospel any more than mine is by the way.

              My opinion is backed up by 40 years of the history of the politics of trying to get beyond Low Earth Orbit again, as well as with numerous architectures that have been developed (OASIS, CE&R) that do not require heavy lifters.

              Here is a nice graphic by Mike Duke from JSC on how ISRU changes the game for launch vehicles. I respect his opinion far more than I respect yours.

              http://www.panoramio.com/photo/92224273

              • billgamesh says:

                “Here is a nice graphic-”
                And that is all you have. No architecture that does not require heavy lifters has ever gone anywhere. I believe that is history.

              • denniswingo says:

                “Here is a nice graphic-”
                And that is all you have. No architecture that does not require heavy lifters has ever gone anywhere. I believe that is history.

                If you look around, no architecture that requires heavy lifters has been funded by the state since Apollo and the cold war. It simply does not pass the engineering smell test that HLV’s are the only way to do space.

              • Robert Clark says:

                Thanks for the cool graphic. That puts it in stark terms.
                Bob Clark

        • Robert Clark says:

          You can keep making up all the lame analogies and excuses you want Dennis; it will not change the fact that Private Space and Low Earth Orbit are both dead ends and a waste of time, money, and effort. Private Space is the enemy of good enough because it definitely is not good enough. The hobby rocket has been around for awhile, has accomplished little and will accomplish less.

          I am frequently the one taking the unpopular view on these forums, so I don’t want to be seen as ganging up on you. We agree on several issues, disagree on others. Everyone here wants greater manned access to space and also, finally, a return to manned flights BEO. The difference is in how to achieve it.
          We agree that the Moon should be a first destination, rather than, say, an asteroid. We also agree the SLS can be used effectively for BEO flights. We disagree on the value of NewSpace. I get the feeling though that a great deal of your animus towards it is in response to the animus shown by the NewSpace supporters against the SLS.
          I happen to be a NewSpace supporter who is not against the SLS. I just feel the SLS can be do more than what is currently being planned for it. For instance it would not have to take us to something like 2030 to have a manned lunar lander mission using it.
          In defense of my support of NewSpace, I think it is important to remember that it includes more than just SpaceX. Orbital Sciences I think is a good example. It is a company that has been around for decades now, but its development of the Antares rocket can be included in the “commercial space” category.
          What I call “commercial space” means cases where a large portion, even if not 50%, is financed by the companies themselves. This can still result in reduced amounts that have to be financed by government. For instance for the development of the Antares, NASA only had to spend $288 million for this 5,000 kg class launcher. This is far less than the billions NASA would normally have to spend to develop a launcher this size:

          Orbital Sciences development costs increase.
          By: ZACH ROSENBERG WASHINGTON DC 06:09 30 Apr 2012

          Documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reveal that Orbital Sciences’ development costs for the Antares rocket are estimated at $472 million.
          “Under the COTS agreement, as amended, as of March 31, 2012, NASA has agreed to pay us $288 million in cash milestone payments, partially funding our program costs which are currently estimated to be approximately $472 million,” reads the 10-Q. “We expect to complete this program in the second half of 2012.”

          http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/orbital-sciences-development-costs-increase-371291/

          Bob Clark

          • billgamesh says:

            “I happen to be a NewSpace supporter who is not against the SLS.”

            A pleasure to correspond with you.
            You are far too civil to be a “NewSpace supporter Bob. They do not consider you one of “them.” Not if you support SLS, that’s for sure. The forums I have lurked on would curse you roundly for any such talk.

            “For instance for the development of the Antares, NASA only had to spend $288 million for this 5,000 kg class launcher. This is far less than the billions NASA would normally have to spend to develop a launcher this size:”

            Nasa would not spend billions on a new launcher that size- they already exist. They are spending bilions on the SLS because some people realize an HLV is the only thing that will ever get us beyond Earth orbit again. As for Orbital, no one seems to remember they have dropped around a billion dollars of satellites in the ocean because they could not get some fairings to separate. There is no cheap.

            http://news.cnet.com/8301-19514_3-20039222-239.html

            • Robert Clark says:

              OK, but the Antares worked pretty darn good.

              Bob Clark

              • billgamesh says:

                I guess,
                but IMO not as darn good as a HLV with hydrogen upper stages. I consider everything else an IFV (Inferior Lift Vehicle). Atlas, Delta, the hobby rockets; they should all be replaced by SLS. It was a disaster to try this with the STS, especially without the C version, but I think we have learned are lesson. Get rid of the ISS, use the SLS in a separate cargo and a separate crew version, and head for the Moon.
                That is how to spend tax dollars.

              • denniswingo says:

                Atlas, Delta, the hobby rockets; they should all be replaced by SLS.

                This reveals such a lack of understanding of the right tool for the right job.

  19. gbaikie says:

    “We must develop a firm moral, technological, and fiscal foundation for this outward move that will attract capital investment, spur technology development, and encourage innovation in a manner that people can understand, believe in, and thus financially support.”

    The key is “attract capital investment”.
    The question is what could attract *some* capital.
    And I think *the answer* is lunar water mining.

    I think in terms of the Moon, NASA should forget about ISRU. And instead think about lunar commercial mining. And commercial lunar water mining could attract capital. It’s not trillions of dollars within a few years type capital, rather rather instead it’s more on the order of billions of dollars, which over decades could eventually evolve into hundreds of billion to trillions of dollars. But what is needed some capital invested and it being profitable, which lead to further investments attempting to make even more profits. So relatively insignificant to amount money in comparison to what NASA is spending, would be very significant.
    So I believe what is needed for commercial lunar water mining is exploration of the Moon to determine whether there is minable water on the Moon.
    For the private sector, it will require billion of dollar invested and very importantly it will also involve finding/developing enough market for rocket fuel which made from the Lunar water.
    In contrast, NASA lunar water ISRU “efforts” will have zero chance of being profitable- saving more money than the money spent. I believe that the quantity of rocket fuel that NASA could need
    would make it cheaper to ship rocket fuel from Earth as compared to cost of doing “ISRU”.
    And I do not think potential commercial lunar mining will be assisted by any NASA efforts relate to NASA ISRU having to do with mining lunar water.
    But exploration by NASA to determine whether there is minable lunar water would critically important in order to begin commercial lunar water mining.
    So, NASA should have lunar exploration program which involves robots and humans exploring the lunar poles which purpose is to determine and quantify lunar water deposits on the scale on one square km resolution. In others one point to a map and say something about area at the scale of 1 km resolution- like 10% of top one meter is water.
    If one square km of the lunar surface has 10% of top one meter depth being water, one has 1 million square meters in a square km, so the amount water in top meter is 100,000 tonnes.
    Which is probably more water that one could mine within the first decade of commercial lunar water mining. Or if selling lunar water at 1 million per ton, it’s 100 billion dollars of water. Or hundreds of billions of dollars in terms of the rocket fuel which is made.
    And it’s unlikely there is enough market demand within 1 decade of start of lunar water mining of hundred of billions of dollars of rocket fuel. 50 billion dollar of rocket fuel within a decade is probably more realistic. Hence the need to know at a resolution of 1 square km, rather than at 100 square km area [10 km by 10 km]. So NASA wouldn’t need 50 billion dollar worth of lunar water or lunar rocket fuel- so even if one is crazy and imagine NASA is going to be more cost efficient in water mining, it still wouldn’t be profitable for NASA to make it’s own rocket fuel could need on the lunar surface.
    The other downside, to NASA mining lunar water is there is unlikely to be an objective assessment of whether it’s actually minable. If the plan was for NASA to mine lunar water, then
    it’s very likely NASA would attempt to mine lunar even if it was not feasible. Also there will tend to be less exploration to find lunar water which is minable. The main effort would in the mining part rather than in the finding the minable water.
    So the Moon needs to be explore [by someone] BEFORE one considers the possibility of mining it- that is the way it’s done in real world. And it’s in NASA’s interest [and American public’s interest] for any party to mine the Moon to make rocket fuel which can be bought [at reasonable price].
    And unreasonable to expect a mining company to spend to the capital needed to explore the Moon in order to determine whether or not they should spend the billions in order to mine it.

    Though once there is some mining occurring on the Moon and there is existing market for lunar rocket fuel, it could be more reasonable that a company may spend billions exploring the moon to find other locations of minable lunar water [or other resources] or there might market for some company to do various kinds of exploration of the Moon. As is done on Earth.

    So if NASA focuses on lunar exploration, rather than NASA lunar mining [ISRU] , and/or NASA lunar base building, a lunar exploration program could be relatively cheap.
    And it seems that if NASA were to then explore Mars [manned Mars program] after the lunar exploration program, then a possible market for lunar rocket fuel, could sold to NASA for use
    in it’s Mars program.
    Any Manned Mars exploration program, which is not merely a stunt, but is actually an effort to explore Mars, will take a long time, does require NASA bases, and will be pretty expensive.

    Or a major NASA lunar program could be finished within 5 years, and a major Mars program
    will probably require more than 20 years. And yearly a Mars program could cost more than 50% more than lunar program. Or roughly, say 3-5 billion per year for lunar and 5 to 7 billion per year Mars. Or it’s possible to do Lunar program and continue ISS, whereas unlikely to be able to afford current spending on ISS and do Mars program. And certainly unlikely to do ISS, Lunar and Mars.
    So a brief exploration of the Moon [and because it’s brief, it will have to be low cost] would be appealing to congress in terms of budget cost. Which means one should able to start lunar program faster than the current plan. The lunar program can be test bed for Mars- in a number of ways.
    If NASA is focus on exploring the moon to find minable water, what could appear rather obvious
    is that commercial lunar water mining needs a market for the rocket fuel. And this may help some to see the importance of having fuel depots.
    And think before starting lunar program, NASA should first establish fuel depots and establish a practice of NASA mission using fuel depots [both manned and robotic missions]. Or KSC should have a fuel depot at it’s launch inclination at LEO. Once it starts lunar program, NASA can then focus on fuel depots in High Earth orbit.
    Having fuel depots is not only critical for commercial lunar rocket fuel, but is also critical for Manned Mars- you can could use depots in LEO and high Earth, but you must have fuel depot at Mars orbit.
    And if one mines space rocks to make rocket fuel, one also needs fuel depots.

    So NASA should focus on what is necessary and NASA should consider, attracting capital investment, as necessary. Or this same as markets. NASA should consider starting new markets in space something which necessary. Having NASA use depots, and the exploration of the Moon to determine if there is minable water, would be a low cost way to creating new markets in space.

    • denniswingo says:

      I don’t disagree. This is what NASA’s RLEP program was supposed to be but here we are 9 years later and still no landers…

      • Robert Clark says:

        The lunar RESOLVE mission is scheduled for 2017:

        NASA hopes to make water on the moon.
        Science
        April 15, 2013 at 12:58 PM ET

        http://www.nbcnews.com/science/nasa-hopes-make-water-moon-1C9351807

        Bob Clark

        • denniswingo says:

          13 years after the beginning of the VSE era.

          • billgamesh says:

            I date news of the most important discovery in recent history to 3 years ago.

            http://www.space.com/7987-tons-water-ice-moon-north-pole.html

            It is one of those wonders of human stupidity, no…idiocy, that when all that ice on the Moon was discovered nothing happened. This was the moment when everything changed- and very few people noticed.
            We may be too stupid to survive.

            • denniswingo says:

              It is one of those wonders of human stupidity, no…idiocy, that when all that ice on the Moon was discovered nothing happened. This was the moment when everything changed- and very few people noticed.

              That water ice was known about as far back as the 1990’s. The former CEO of Lockheed Martin forbade mention of it as a resource in his Augustine II commission because he thought that heavy lift was the only way we could launch payloads for exploration. That water ice makes heavy lift obsolete. Many of us have known this for quite some time.

          • gbaikie says:

            “That water ice was known about as far back as the 1990′s. The former CEO of Lockheed Martin forbade mention of it as a resource in his Augustine II commission because he thought that heavy lift was the only way we could launch payloads for exploration. That water ice makes heavy lift obsolete. Many of us have known this for quite some time.”
            They may think this but they are wrong. Saturn V wasn’t made obsolete by fuel depots or lunar water mining. What makes Heavy lift “impractical” is lack of market for such a launch vehicle.
            With more market demand, it will be economically be required to operate heavy lift.
            So if mining lunar water on the Moon at level of 1000 tons per year, you are going to need heavy lift- probably more than one hvy lift.
            So the CEO of Lockheed Martin is only vaguely correct if he/she/it means having only one hvy lift which is not economical for NASA to support and it Lockmart wants to have a sole monopoly on one hvy lift which is uneconomical/expensive launch vehicle.

            • denniswingo says:

              With more market demand, it will be economically be required to operate heavy lift.

              If the water ice can be harvested, there will probably never be a market for heavy lift, though there is room for modification of that statement. The principle reason for a heavy lifter is to loft large integrated payloads from the ground today. If we end up with a very robust extraterrestrial economy there might be a use for a heavy lifter lifting a lot of parts to space.

              So if mining lunar water on the Moon at level of 1000 tons per year, you are going to need heavy lift- probably more than one hvy lift.

              No, you are not. If that happens it will be far more cost effective to build systems right there on the Moon and lift them to orbit. If that level or more of water is harvested we will scour orbital space and scarf up all of those RL-10’s on spent upper stages and probably the whole stages.

              The Earth’s gravity well is pretty darned deep and there is no compelling reason for heavy lift if you have a robust extraterrestrial economy.

      • gbaikie says:

        “I don’t disagree. This is what NASA’s RLEP program was supposed to be but here we are 9 years later and still no landers…”

        Yes. But the focus should manned and robotic. Trying to just do robotic is too cheap and not likely do adequate amount exploration which is needed. So let’s make part of a major program- something with 3 billion per year being spent and build program up 3 billion per year level within a couple years.
        And then after Manned lunar it is continued and transitioned to Manned Mars [so Mars program starting at 2-3 billion [while lunar is ended] per year level and increases to 4 billion or more.

        But before this, we need fuel depot at KSC inclination. So, say, start with Liquid oxygen only and build toward storing the fuel component [and storing other stuff- like refrigerant and xenon for ion engines]. But first get oxygen storage and transfer to operational and routine status. The depots should viewed as something available to all NASA missions in future- so telescopes needing refrigerant or other servicing [robotic- rather than manned] could be designed so to allow for it].
        So we spent decades trying to make a launch vehicle reusable {the Shuttle]. Let’s instead focus on making all spacecraft in space environment reusable. And this begins with depots. And NASA is in the unique position [unlike commercial launch for satellites]
        to get this system started. The idea is commercial satellite [and military] will also use depots, once NASA has turned something which at experimental level into a operational
        level. And NASA should start this, as sole controlling agent, but encourage the fuel depot market, so eventually NASA is one customer in this entire market.
        It might helpful to think of the fuel depot in LEO as “a part” of KSC- just like launch pad is part of KSC. In other words it’s part of a rocket launch of the spaceport [and other American spaceports].

        So, I see rocket fuel delivered from Earth to depots as providing rocket fuel needed for Lunar and at least the beginning of Mars [first 5 to 10 year of Mars program] with perhaps at some point rocket fuel coming from the Moon. But getting lunar rocket fuel is not on critical path for Lunar or Mars exploration.

        • denniswingo says:

          G

          I agree, but there is a lot of value in precursors, especially at the North Polar area. We need wheels on the ground there in the most desperate way. The more we learn about the area the better we will be able to take advantage of the resources that are there. I spend a fair amount of time looking at LROC-NAC images of the area and there are very interesting things going on there that shapes the regolith in ways that I don’t think anyone has paid much attention to as of yet. I see the same mottling in the other farside highlands areas, mottling that eliminates most small craters over what must be a very short period of time. There are far more small craters in the Mare regions than near the pole, though that terrain is much older. Why?

          I also agree about reusable spacecraft rather than launch vehicles. What most people don’t think about is that we have already proven SSTO from the Moon via the Apollo LEM ascent stage. We might just end up with our first propellant depot on the lunar surface…..

    • Robert Clark says:

      ISRU includes the production of propellant from lunar water.

      Bob Clark

  20. billgamesh says:

    Dennis, I have to give you credit for not banning me like the other two blogs that support private space did. But your language is atrocious. If you are so upset with what I write then delete it. Using “piss” and “crap” and “you don’t know what you are talking about” etc. makes you look immature and shows a lack of class. It is a characteristic of the private space crowd that they cannot handle criticism and resort to this. All the creds and experience in the space game does not make up for acting like a spoiled nine year old. I do not talk nice about private space because none of the private space advocates have ever talked nice to me. They also lie and make things up and then accuse their critics of doing so. But you do not seem to have that failing to any degree…..yet. Except for the detection is not deflection comment. I will never let something like impact threats be dismissed by someone falsely stating that detecting them solves the problem.
    Stating the problem is solved when it definitely is not only makes it worse. Detecting a dinosaur killer a couple months out will give everyone time to say goodbye and not much else.

    • denniswingo says:

      I do not talk nice about private space because none of the private space advocates have ever talked nice to me.

      Maybe that is because you are closed minded as you accuse others of being.

      makes you look immature and shows a lack of class.

      I come from the coal mining world and ascribe to the John L. Lewis form of calling bullshit for what it is and in the manner that is should be called. You should see his congressional testimony sometime. We need more of that,not less.

      All the creds and experience in the space game does not make up for acting like a spoiled nine year old.

      Pot, meet kettle.

      I will never let something like impact threats be dismissed by someone falsely stating that detecting them solves the problem.

      And I did not say that, what I said is that detection is s requirement. You make things up out of whole cloth by misinterpreting what I said.

      What you might do to keep yourself from being banned is to actually learn about the subject much more than what you know now. Trying to claim that physics demands that an HLV is the only way to do exploration is at the top of the list of what you are wrong about. Being wrong is not the end of the world, but refusing to look beyond your own biases is the sign of a closed mind and ends up with a dogmatic viewpoint that ends up getting you banned by those who simply get tired of responding ad infinitum to a dogmatic position.

      • billgamesh says:

        “Maybe that is because you are closed minded as you accuse others of being.”
        Possible.
        “Being wrong is not the end of the world, but refusing to look beyond your own biases is the sign of a closed mind-”
        True.
        “-who simply get tired of responding ad infinitum to a dogmatic position.”
        It goes for you to Dennis. Your dogma and my dogma might be barking at each other but the fact remains we went to the Moon with an HLV and have not been back since. If less had been capable of doing so we would have gone. You can blame politics all you want but fuel depots and small rockets in LEO have been a dead end so far. I study up as much as possible and all the holes in the private space scam have become apparent to me. No one is changing my mind by just saying I am not right. Prove it.

  21. billgamesh says:

    “If you look around, no architecture that requires heavy lifters has been funded by the state since Apollo and the cold war. It simply does not pass the engineering smell test that HLV’s are the only way to do space.”

    The Shuttle was an HLV in the Saturn V class. But trying to go cheap by making it all things with the orbiter turned it into a lame duck. So a heavy lifter was funded. I have no idea what a “smell test” is but so far they ARE the only way to do deep space and that is all that matters in terms of human space flight.
    Again, I have to say that I do not consider LEO to be space flight. When Apollo 8 left Earth orbit that term was re-defined.The last time humans traveled anywhere besides going in circles was Apollo 17.

    • denniswingo says:

      The Shuttle was an HLV in the Saturn V class. But trying to go cheap by making it all things with the orbiter turned it into a lame duck. So a heavy lifter was funded.

      Splitting hairs. No one thought of the STS stack as a heavy lifter payload wise, that is what counts. Also, you misunderstand the history of the Shuttle as well. It was EXACTLY for the reason that they did not want to further fund heavy lift that was the rational for the Shuttle. What they got was the lame duck because OMB refused to fund the development cost of the fully reusable TSTO Shuttle.

      Again, I have to say that I do not consider LEO to be space flight.

      Again, you would be wrong.

      • billgamesh says:

        According to you. Going in circles in LEO is not “halfway to anywhere”; it is a dead end.
        I repeat; to travel you have to go somewhere and circles……go in circles. Going in circles gets you nowhere. Disagree all you want.

        The shuttle stack was heavy lift- it lifted close to a hundred tons and just because no one “thought of it that way” because it was mostly lifting a glider does not change the fact that it lifted a hundred tons. Gee whiz, this is getting ridiculous.

        • denniswingo says:

          The shuttle stack was heavy lift- it lifted close to a hundred tons and just because no one “thought of it that way” because it was mostly lifting a glider does not change the fact that it lifted a hundred tons. Gee whiz, this is getting ridiculous.

          No one is forcing you to post here. The Shuttle C was a heavy lifter in mass and look at what happened, it never got funded.

          • billgamesh says:

            “The Shuttle C was a heavy lifter in mass and look at what happened, it never got funded.”
            So…..heavy lift is just inherently evil and…..I am not following you. No one is forcing me to post here…..and that means?
            I suspect our time together is now coming to an end Dennis. Two dogmas barking at each other perhaps.

            • denniswingo says:

              heavy lift is just inherently evil and

              No, heavy lift is incredibly useful, if there is a national commitment to an exploration and development architecture that can support the incredibly high overhead of the system. That would require a NASA budget probably of a minimum of $40 billion per year. Without that commitment, another path is required. I say again, Spudis has it right, in the prioritization of the spending of the congress and the white house, space gets so much money and has for a very long time. Thus we have to figure out how to do exploration within the confines of that budget. This not hard to figure out, and after you have been at this as long as many of us have, you either learn from it or go away.

              Again, no one is forcing you to post here. I tell you uncomfortable truths that you are unwilling to listen to, what you do is your problem, or maybe your opportunity. Up to you.

              • billgamesh says:

                And I think I am the one telling you uncomfortable truth’s that you just ignore. Who is right? 40 billion? If you are right and that is what it takes then…..that is what it takes. The DOD budget is proof we can spend that much. Really. The jaws may drop and the private space wailing and gnashing of teeth do not change the reality. If that is what it costs then that is what it costs. Going cheap may be the only option to you and Paul but I do not consider it a solution; I consider it failure before it starts. There is no cheap.

              • denniswingo says:

                There is no cheap.

                It is this attitude that has kept us off of the Moon since 1972. You remind me of another chap that demands that we spend $200 billion for space infrastructure so that we can build a solar power satellite. Both positions are unrealistic and untenable.

                So you just keep right on demanding the money to do your heavy lift while we go and do what is required to get us off this rock.

              • billgamesh says:

                “You remind me of another chap that demands that we spend $200 billion for space infrastructure so that we can build a solar power satellite. Both positions are unrealistic and untenable.”

                Right. Whoever I remind you of is not what we are discussing. My position is not unrealistic and I am not demanding 200 billion. You just went from 40 to 200 and made me the villain in your warped version of reality.
                Give it a rest.

              • denniswingo says:

                Right. Whoever I remind you of is not what we are discussing. My position is not unrealistic and I am not demanding 200 billion. You just went from 40 to 200 and made me the villain in your warped version of reality.

                No merely pointing out that you share a similar mindset. It is this mindset that helped to kill the Apollo Applications Program, the Space Exploration Initiative, and the Constellation plan. You share it with those like Dr. Mike Griffin who thought that he could force congress to spend more money than they were willing to spend. Dr. Marburger talked about this mentality in his 2006 Goddard symposium speech.

                That you don’t get it speaks volumes.

  22. billgamesh says:

    Atlas, Delta, the hobby rockets; they should all be replaced by SLS.
    “This reveals such a lack of understanding of the right tool for the right job.”

    You want to spend money on inferior lift vehicles but not on what will allow beyond earth orbit flight; who has a lack of understanding?

    • denniswingo says:

      You want to spend money on inferior lift vehicles but not on what will allow beyond earth orbit flight; who has a lack of understanding?

      The Atlas and Delta are very well matched for their intended market, which is GEO and heavy payloads to LEO. It is you that has lack of understanding of what the markets are and what inferior means.

      • billgamesh says:

        I am not concerned with markets and satellites Dennis- you are. You are confusing making a buck with safeguarding the human race. Sad.

        • denniswingo says:

          The two are intimately related, that you don’t understand this is your loss.

          • billgamesh says:

            One is certainly being confused with the other. I am not confused.

            • denniswingo says:

              One is certainly being confused with the other. I am not confused.

              You may not be confused but you are certainly mistaken in your notions about heavy lift. Nothing wrong with that as long as you are willing to consider other positions and alternatives. A dogmatic fixation on one path is what a friend of mine once characterized as “The Highlander Syndrome”, after the movie.

              • billgamesh says:

                Again, it goes for you to. I think I have done my homework and private space appears to be a scam to me. None of it adds up. The SLS- even underfunded as it is- will be taking people BEO long before the hobby rocket every refuels from a mythical depot and heads for Mars.

              • denniswingo says:

                Again, it goes for you to. I think I have done my homework and private space appears to be a scam to me. None of it adds up. The SLS- even underfunded as it is- will be taking people BEO long before the hobby rocket every refuels from a mythical depot and heads for Mars.

                Oh, I started out like you and if you can find it, I was an advocate of reviving the Saturn V in the 1980’s. Time moves on and as we learn more we learn that there are many reasons that systems are built, many of which have nothing to do with technical considerations. MSFC had a very interesting idea back then to use a single F1a and a single J2-s as a launch vehicle. Better performance than a Falcon 9 and probably cheaper to manufacture. Still, it requires a lot of capital before you get to first launch. What you keep missing is that the perfect is the enemy of the good, and our existing global stable of vehicles are actually quite good.

              • billgamesh says:

                “Oh, I started out like you-”
                Please don’t do that. It is not a nice thing to do to anyone and is really just a subtle insult.

                “What you keep missing is that the perfect is the enemy of the good,-”

                Uh…no. I am not missing anything and just saying I am does not make it so. What exactly do you think I am missing Dennis?

              • denniswingo says:

                Please don’t do that. It is not a nice thing to do to anyone and is really just a subtle insult.

                People feel insulted when they want to feel that way.

                Uh…no. I am not missing anything and just saying I am does not make it so. What exactly do you think I am missing Dennis?

                I have stated it probably over a dozen times in this thread, if you don’t get it by now, you never will.

  23. billgamesh says:

    “It is completely doable by private enterprise and or private visionary funding. Paul Allen is doing his part, Bill Gates is supporting thorium power, Musk with SpaceX. I simply don’t have your level of pessimism-”

    There you go making me out to be something I am not; I am no pessimist about spaceflight as long as we have a HLV on the way. You are pessimistic about the SLS and think Bill, Paul, and Elon are a better option. That is…….I do not know what to call it. Bizarre maybe.

    • denniswingo says:

      There you go making me out to be something I am not; I am no pessimist about spaceflight as long as we have a HLV on the way. You are pessimistic about the SLS and think Bill, Paul, and Elon are a better option. That is…….I do not know what to call it. Bizarre maybe.

      You need to learn more of the history of our nation. It is actually quite American to do what they are doing. SpaceX just signed another GEO comsat launch deal as well. There is life outside of the NASA bubble.

      Specifically you need to read MacDougal’s “The Heavens and the Earth” which will better inform you of the mistake made by the nation in pushing the Apollo cold war mentality.

      • billgamesh says:

        No Dennis, I do not need to read about Apollo as a mistake because I know for certain it was not. If you want to wrap SpaceX in the flag and talk trash about Apollo it is your blog of course. It is pretty disgusting to me.

        • denniswingo says:

          No Dennis, I do not need to read about Apollo as a mistake because I know for certain it was not.

          Note carefully what I wrote. I did not say that Apollo was a mistake. What I said was that the Apollo cold ware mentality was a mistake. The race to the Moon forced a design that left zero infrastructure in space or on the Moon to be leveraged. Von Braun saw this coming and fought for over a year against the Lunar Orbit Rendezvous architecture. He lost, we lost as well as it is quite clear that Von Braun was right. As a landing on the Moon of the first humans faster than the Russians could do it, Apollo was a great success. As the beginning of mankind’s thrust into the cosmos it was a costly failure that many, including you, have never learned from.

          • billgamesh says:

            “-it is quite clear that Von Braun was right.”
            I disagree. It is clear we landed on the Moon and everything you are stating is your version of history. I read history a little different.

            “-it was a costly failure that many, including you, have never learned from.”

            I am sorry Dennis but I consider that…..arrogant and completely inaccurate. I have learned everything I need to know about private space from “experts” like you- and I consider it pure garbage.

            • denniswingo says:

              I have learned everything I need to know about private space from “experts” like you- and I consider it pure garbage.

              One man’s garbage is another man’s recycled materials.

              Such is life….

  24. gbaikie says:

    “This short missive brings together the gestalt for the economic development of the inner solar system. It is not a question of the Moon, Mars, or the Asteroids, indeed to argue for or against one to the exclusion of the others is to miss the point! It is all of the above or we are just wasting our time and we might as well start the wars early and get them over with. This is slightly tongue in cheek but what direction do we want to go for the future of mankind? There is a way out of the dark future that many see coming toward us. The economic development of space is a strong contender for that path. Even if the future is not darkened by war, we will have 9 billion souls on the Earth soon and we want all of our brothers and sisters of the Earth to live good lives, not lives steeped in poverty. There are those that think that our age is one of excess, destined to exhaust itself soon unless we dial back civilization to something that can be operated with solar panels and wind turbines. It is simply not possible to operate a planetary civilization of 9 billion plus people with low energy multiple sources and thus we face a decision, backward or forward?”

    I don’t necessarily think we are doomed without opening the space frontier, and certainly don’t think solar panels or wind turbines part of any kind of future, as they simply are not a net gain
    in terms of providing energy. Solar panels and wind turbine in terms providing electrical power is
    a symptom of “too much wealth” – a strange way to waste energy and time, and without amply
    amount energy, they would not be used. They aren’t things one does if there is a shortage of energy- they similar to electric cars [a hobby of wealthy people].

    Not opening the frontier is refusing ample prosperity- it’s a brighter future we choosing not to take. We aren’t currently living in world which lacks resources and is over burdened with too many people and/or killing ourselves for various kinds of pollution [and to considering CO2 as a pollution is utter nonsense- or a product of a mindless religious fervor ].
    Opening the space frontier would similar to continue to view “fossil fuels” as useless and worthless
    as they were considered prior to 20th century. It’s would like remaining in age of coal and steamships. No cheap steel, fossil fuel, food, electricity, etc. So more global poverty. And not a world where the middle class can fly across the country [or the world] and no one is flying except some rich people using balloon as a hobby. It’s a world in which in rich countries, 99% of people are labors. And people aren’t living much longer than 50 years old. Upside is it would a world with much higher percentage below the age of 30. And a lot people are farmers and stay at their farms
    for their entire lives. And good news is we wouldn’t have all these government programs- NASA might agency trying to make airplanes that worked [such as advance work may have a huge labor force of hundred people employed] and likewise government would have to have fewer
    numbers being employed. And America would still safe because of it’s oceans- with no military to speak of. Though people in 19th century were informed of world news, it would couple weeks late for those living in certain cities, and months late for those in rural areas. It’s likely we would have more air and water pollution, than we do currently. And America would less population increase from emigration, though it’s possible we could have about same population as we do currently.
    Due to the America government, we would be far richer than China and China would poorer than it was in at beginning of 20th century. But probably other than being richer, the US would more similar to China, or perhaps the long future fear is we could eventually [centuries] go more in this direction. So though America population could about same as it is currently, the rest of the world would have had a lot more people being poor and a lot more them would have died. So world population might be about 1/2 of what it is now, and have and have 3 or 4 times
    more poverty as it does today. And a Hitler type would failed just as Napoleon failed, and wouldn’t have a EU- though obvious success of America, would probably encourage European
    to strive to unite Europe- but it probably would fail, as countries trying copy America [such as Philippines and Liberian] have largely failed by trying to exactly copy the government- as it isn’t the government, its the people who make the government. It isn’t the bill of rights, it’s the people who make the bill of rights- it’s the culture rather than the document.

    • denniswingo says:

      Not opening the frontier is refusing ample prosperity-

      How many people out there understand this?

      it’s a brighter future we choosing not to take.

      How many people even understand that it is the elites of the world seek to make this choice for us, in the name of sustainability, equality, and societal preservation.

      I fully concur with your analysis except that the elites of China, India, and other rising sections of the world are unwilling to abide by a status quo or a decent into equality via global poverty. This is the achilles heel of the entire “Limits to Growth” mindset. I have read this literature extensively and none of their projections extend beyond 2100. Why? Because if you take their premises and extend them to the year 2200 and beyond what you have is a slow descent toward barbarism and the eventual extinction of humanity, all in the name of saving the planet. At its core this philosophy has as a central tenant self hatred, which extended to the level of humanity as a species, is that we are a cancer on the world that must be eliminated in order to return the planet to its natural state. This is an idea of mind boggling ignorance and hatred that space exploration and development is the exact polar opposite.

      What must be done is to illuminate the fact that these underpinnings are there and that the choices that are being forced upon us in the name of preserving humanity have indeed the opposite effect.

      Life either grows or dies, the stasis that you elucidate is indeed what the LTG world thinks will happen, yet humanity does not work that way, never has and never will, there will be war, and war on a scale that will make WWII look like a minor skirmish.

      The mindset involved is at least partly illustrated in this article in its opening…

      http://reason.com/archives/2013/06/25/the-power-of-people

      • billgamesh says:

        Not as simple as it seems; not a case of LTG fanatics or Ayn Rand is the second coming crowd.
        It is in truth at the most basic level about utilization of energy. And if you would like a completely impartial take on energy I have found only one.
        This guy Ozzie Zehner in Berkeley is disliked by everyone on both sides of the fence because he is telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth despite the left and right sides of the debate.
        Read “Green Illusions”

        [editor snip of off topic personal attack]

        If you want a solution then 10 years ago a brilliant mind came up with the only one so far; and it does not look like anything else is going to work anytime soon. Believe me I have been looking.
        The solution is Criswell’s Lunar Solar Power. How we get that lunar energy infrastructure started is the question.

        • billgamesh says:

          “-war on a scale that will make WWII look like a minor skirmish.”

          It could happen. All it takes is something to stop the world from growing food. I am not sure what other kind of war you are talking about. Nuclear weapons have made conventional wars a thing of the past. And no one is going to start a nuclear war.
          I call it world war C- a play on that other sci-fi story using the last letter of the alphabet. The C standing for cannibalism. Fill the upper atmosphere with enough particles- from an impact or a super volcano to by far the least likely cause, which is a nuclear war- and there will be no food and we will eat each other. The best movie I have seen that gives some idea of what it would be like is “The Road.”

          • denniswingo says:

            With the reductions in nuclear forces by the major powers the day is coming closer to where massive conventional war is not only possible again, it is probable, especially if we are confined to this single planet and its physical resources. Nukes would only be used by the losing power toward the end of a conflict and by then they could be neutralized by the offensive force before they could strike a target.

            Nothing is fixed in warfare and to think so is one of the fallacies of diplomacy.

        • gbaikie says:

          “…The solution is Criswell’s Lunar Solar Power…”
          The lunar surface get more than twice the solar energy than Earth.
          Since the lunar surface has about 2 week period of daylight, it would be near foolish, not
          to bother with continuously have the solar panel so it’s pointed directly at the Sun.
          On Earth if pointing directly at the sun and if the sun is at low angle, one doesn’t get the same amount of solar energy as compared to when Sun is near Zenith. This is due to the sunlight needing to go thru more atmosphere when sun is at low angle and a clear sky at low angle will reflect more of the solar energy. So if at 8 am in morning if directly pointing at sun one receives significantly less sunlight as compared to 10 am to 4 pm [when sun is closer to zenith]. So even on clear days on Earth with more than 12 hours of sunlight, it’s the hours between 10 am to 4 pm in which get well over half [70-90%] of the solar energy. Whereas on Moon long as sun is not blocked by horizon [or mountains]
          if you have the solar panel pointing at it, you getting 1360 watts per meter.
          Or over a year time period on average one has 12 hours per averaged day in sunlight [in northern countries, like Canada in winter one less than 12 hours of daylight, and during summer get more than 12 hours of daylight- but over a year it’s averages 12 hours]. And on moon over a period of year, half is daylight and night and averaged 24 hour period is half day and half night. So per average day one gets 1360 watts per square meter times 12 hours is 16.3 kW hours. Whereas best location on Earth get
          about 8 kW hours per averaged day.
          Moon gets more twice amount of solar energy as best location on Earth.
          But if in high Earth orbit, the Earth only blocks very small percentage of sunlight-
          it’s averaged day is about 24 hours of sunlight at 1360 watts per square meter.
          So bad locations on Earth- like Germany or UK, it’s about 2 kW hours per averaged day-
          or Moon gets 8 times as per solar energy. And best locations on Earth [such as SW US, some parts of Australia, and Sahara Desert] one gets about 8 kW hours per averaged day. Or Moon gets twice as much. But high Earth orbit, one gets constant power and
          therefore in average day you get twice as much solar energy.
          Earth in general is very poor place to have solar panels, the Moon is a pretty good location [eternal peaks of light in polar region can be close to equaling someplace like GEO or high Earth orbits], and high Earth orbit is best location at earth distance to harvest solar solar.
          Now region of the Moon known as eternal peaks of light is a limited area. Probably more area than one might use on the Moon for centuries into the future, but in terms of Earth’s global electrical needs- a fairly limited area.

          Beaming energy made on the Moon to Earth, doesn’t make much sense. And if just look at economics in simple way this can be illustrated.
          Currently, if one wanted to buy a certain amount of electrical energy. Say, 1 MW generated 24 hours and 365 days of year [24 times 365 is 8760 megawatts hours per year]. The most expensive place to buy it within 1 million km of Earth would be on lunar surface. Or it might cost somewhere around $5 to $20 kw hour.
          So for 1 MW per year: 8,760,000 times $5 to $20. So 43.8 million to 175.2 million dollars per year. Would be a good price for this much electrical power. Or getting something which would equal to 1 MW power plant having useful lifetime of 10 year
          would need to cost less than 432 million [or 1.75 billion] to ship and set it on the Moon.
          So to buy at $5 per kW hour when one needs it on the Moon is very good price- and even at $20 per kW hour is fairly reasonable costs.
          Now it looking at with rather simple economics of scale- instead of 1 MW, one does 1000 MW it could be argued one might lower the costs- you might make to lower end of $5 kW hour, but seems unlikely one lower it to $1 kW hour.
          So what I mean by simple economics of scale, is buying lots of rocket launches at very low costs, and you use man and machine power on the Moon in more efficient manner.
          But probably one you are thinking about is making solar panels on the Moon- and simply one would need to make rocket fuel on the Moon to do this, costs just go thru the roof, otherwise.
          So $5 to $20 kW hour is somewhere near a reasonable price that lunar water mining
          pay for electrical power. And at such prices one could expect rocket fuel to be around $2000 per lb at surface and selling lunar rocket in low lunar orbit or higher orbit for around $5000 per lb. And having lunar rocket fuel around this price allows one to reuse vehicles coming high Earth to lunar surface and back.
          This ability to buy rocket fuel in lunar orbit and surface, would at least half the cost of getting anything to the Moon. So if bringing solar panel from Earth, this halves the cost per kw hour of electrical energy.
          And lower price of rocket fuel at lunar surface significantly affects lunar rocket fuel at
          lunar orbit. Price drops from 2000 to 1500 per lb- means drop from 5000 to 4000 at lunar orbit.
          500 drop at surface , lowers orbit price by 1000. It also means if instead 2000 per lb at surface, it’s 3000 per lb, then it could be cheaper to ship rocket fuel from Earth rather than from the Moon.

          So in order to transmit the harvested solar energy in the Moon. one has to have the cost of electrical power on the Moon be $.05 per kW hour or less. Or needs price/cost
          to less the 1/100th of $5 per Kw hour.
          A question could be if and when electrical power on the Moon is 5 cents or less per kw
          hour, what is price/cost of lunar rocket fuel.
          It’s possible that if electrical power is 1/100th of cost, than rocket fuel would be 1/100th of it’s cost. Or instead of $2000 per lb, it’s $20 per lb.
          One could argue all day about what the price would be, but I am just saying it could
          this price. And let point out that rocket fuel at $20 per lb is about 20 times the cost of rocket fuel on Earth, and 5 cent per Kw hour is in ballpark of price electrical power on Earth.
          The factor which would control the price of lunar rocket fuel is volume of rocket fuel made per year- and to lessor extent the total amount water available on the Moon. Meaning there may be in total 1 billion tonnes of minable lunar water, but it’s only if there is less than 1 million tonnes that might be a factor.

          And it seems if one at point of making solar panel on the Moon to be used on the Moon, and one is near the price of 5 cent per Kw hour. And one is near the price of rocket fuel at $25 per lb. One can ship solar panel off the Moon for less than per $50 lb.
          And it seems to me if one could ship solar panels off of Earth for $50 per lb [to GEO]
          we would shipping solar panels to GEO to harvest solar energy from Space. And lunar price above, you do same thing from the Moon. Ship the solar panels so they are closer to Earth, and they get twice as much solar energy.
          And if shipped the solar panel made on the Moon to GEO, you have huge demand for
          rocket fuel. Or some even cheaper way to get solar panels off the lunar surface-
          some kind of mass driver that make to cost to ship off the moon closer to $1 per lb or less.
          So it seems economics would dictate that one would not harvest solar energy on the lunar surface in order to transmit the energy to Earth- instead you would ship lunar solar panels from Moon to Earth high orbit [such as GEO or L-points].
          One it also be possible to make solar panels from asteroid material- but since cost of shipping from the Moon could made quite insignificant- it’s not a given.

          • billgamesh says:

            GB, nobody likes to read long rambling comments- so nobody does. If you want anyone to read what you are writing besides yourself you need to keep it much shorter and make more sense.
            Did you even bother to google Criswell? It appears you just posted a huge comment without even knowing what you are posting about.

            • denniswingo says:

              GB, nobody likes to read long rambling comments- so nobody does. If you want anyone to read what you are writing besides yourself you need to keep it much shorter and make more sense.
              Did you even bother to google Criswell? It appears you just posted a huge comment without even knowing what you are posting about.

              Bill

              This is my forum, not yours. I am the moderator, and I determine what is appropriate or not. I have interacted with G Balkie for well over twenty years now and he is a reasonable, though sometimes voluable fellow. I respect his opinions and he frequently comes up with incredibly important points on various subjects. You need to learn how to conduct yourself in a manner appropriate to the level of discourse on these subjects.

              • billgamesh says:

                Then why don’t you just remove my comment? I need to learn how to conduct myself? If it is your forum than practice what you preach and give everyone the respect they deserve instead of condescending to scold them for telling someone what they need to hear. You do not me telling someone they need to improve? Fine, then do not let me tell them- it is your blog. What are you trying to prove?

              • denniswingo says:

                I need to learn how to conduct myself?

                Yes, you do. gblalkie and I go so far back in history that we were posting together before sci.space split up into different groups. That is probably about 1988 or 89. We have seen everything from people posting, aggressiveness, petulance, one upmanship, arrogance, superior attitudes, and good honest back and forth. I simply am no longer tolerant of attitudes like yours as all it does is start flame wars and I really don’t tolerate that. G ignores the flame bait as he is well practiced in these types of forums. You are not telling people what they need to hear, you are strutting a superior and condescending attitude toward other posters.

                What are you trying to prove?

                You have already admitted that you have been banned from other forums. I am attempting to lead you toward a less confrontational style of posting as you do bring some good ideas out. There is value in that, but that value does not compensate for the bad attitude. Thus, you can either learn or not. If not, you will continue to be banned and will never understand why. Learn, or not learn, your choice..

              • gbaikie says:

                “I have interacted with G Baikie for well over twenty years now and he is a reasonable, though sometimes voluble fellow.” :)
                Well, if there was a edit mode, I could do slightly better.

                But though may write a lot words, I don’t consider myself a writer.
                A writer can do better job with far fewer words [and less typos].
                And this particular case is dennis wingo is actually a writer. So I only hope to remind
                Dennis of certain things he already knows, and maybe add different
                angle it, which might help him write something [which I then will find enjoyable to read].

                Plus in general terms it appears that people in general don’t get certain principles, so I tend to try give a complete summary for their benefit.
                And I am always hopeful they could find faults in my rationale [rather than writing] which then helps me understand things better.
                I have been over the 20 years been constantly evolving in my view- which why a post
                anything at all.

              • denniswingo says:

                g….

                I thought that you could edit your posts…

                Hmm…..

                I agree with your volubility on this subject as some people read a book like Criswell’s and think that they have found a great truth. I like Dave Criswell but I have never understood the power beaming from the Moon to the Earth. The power is certainly, to me, more valuable on the Moon for industrial purposes…..

              • gbaikie says:

                “g….

                I thought that you could edit your posts…

                Hmm…..”

                I edit before pushing the “post comment”.

                But over at http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/ is only place I can edit a post after
                I post something {and I use that feature a lot}.
                Maybe there there is log in options at your site, which would allow such editing- but I don’t have that option, nor did I know it was even available.

                “I agree with your volubility on this subject as some people read a book like Criswell’s and think that they have found a great truth. I like Dave Criswell but I have never understood the power beaming from the Moon to the Earth. The power is certainly, to me, more valuable on the Moon for industrial purposes…..”

                I have thought beaming energy from Earth to the Moon might be a good idea.
                Use the 5 cent Kw hour electricity available on Earth, so after the losses and infrastructure costs one can have lunar electricity for about $1 per kw hour.

                I have not seen a study related to it.
                But if one can cheaply send power from the Moon to Earth, it would seem one should able to send power more cheaply to the Moon.

              • denniswingo says:

                g

                It certainly to me would make more sense to do so but even then the RF pollution of throwing that much energy around appears to me to not be worth the effort.

                It is my opinion (FWIW) that the best course of action is to prospect the hot spots of Thorium and Uranium on the Moon and then use that to power reactors. That would be a far better use of time and money. Just think what we could do for industrialization if we could generate a gigawatt of power. If you could do that, then a fundamental transformation would be within our reach in industrialization of the Moon which would then enable the infrastructure development of near Earth space. For some strange reason I don’t think that people focus enough on what plentiful energy does to enable a plethora of positive applications on the Moon and beyond. Certainly Mars will never be adequately colonized without nuclear power, and a lot of it…

              • gbaikie says:

                ” For some strange reason I don’t think that people focus enough on what plentiful energy does to enable a plethora of positive applications on the Moon and beyond. Certainly Mars will never be adequately colonized without nuclear power, and a lot of it…”

                World Bank is largely focused building hydro dams- regard it as a key to economic development. Without power, any nation is doomed to poverty. And the Chinese know it.

                Recent interest in private funding of Mars funding- Mars One, would be more serious
                if focus was making power plants on Mars [or wherever]. Though I suppose it’s not a glamorous as Reality TV.
                It is would really cool if there public ownership of power plants in space, though solar power might be more appealing. The German nation spent and will spend
                hundred of billions for “green energy”.
                It seems if actually wanted a settlement on Mars, you would focus on making the power plant. Or if there is power plant someplace on Mars- that is where any people would go.

                But I don’t think that due to Mars getting 60% less solar energy than at Earth distance- or 60% less than the Moon, that one could use not solar energy on Mars.
                Mars [like the Moon] lacks Earth’s thick atmosphere. Therefore when sun at low angle
                the atmosphere is not blocking much sunlight.
                Though dust is problem- particularly global dust storm events.

                “It should be remembered, however, that these global dust storms are quite rare – only ten have been reported since 1873, and all but two have occurred since 1956. Much more common is the “localized” dust event, often starting in desert regions near Serpentis-Noachis, Solis Lacus, Chryse, or Hellas. During the 1997 apparition, CCD and HST observations revealed localized dust clouds over the north polar cap early in northern spring.”

                http://www.alpo-astronomy.org/jbeish/MetTrendDust.htm

                It could reasonable to say that due to mars dust storms, solar power is not practical.
                But if we knew more about what causes these events- and therefore could predict them and even perhaps possibly prevent or lessen them, then solar energy could be more dependable.
                Mars like Earth has long polar summers and unlike Earth, on Mars when sun is low on horizon [if there isn’t a lot of dust] one can get a significant amount of solar energy continuously for half the Mars year. Year being 687 days- so 343 days constant solar power. Then there is the 343 days of night which follows this.

                About 600 watts per square meter is average, and Mars varies significantly in it’s distance from the Sun [and one spends more time of a year further than nearer].

                But pick say 500 watts per square meter for 12 hours is 6 Kw. So averaged day less than 1/2 of Lunar surface closer to 1/3 or less. But 6 Kw hours is about 3 times better than Germany or UK, but not as good as best areas on Earth.
                But the dust could/would be a major problem in this regard, so nuclear power would
                be safer and a global dust storm has number other challenging aspects, and one better have constant source of power if you are in one.

                But assuming we have explored Mars- assuming we understand Mars a lot better than we do now, and you interested to doing something for less 340 days- at poles with constant daylight you could getting 12 Kw hours per 24 hours- which for this less than a year period, is better than you can get anywhere on Earth over same length of time.
                And constant [within a year period- and again, assuming no dust storm] source of power has as great a benefit as simply the greater accumulation of the amount of energy. Or one gets more solar energy than at Earth’s arctic in summer [6 months of sunlight- even if this Earth’s polar region were cloudless].

                So if you can somehow manage the dust problem [predict it, avoid/flee it, or “remedy it”]. The poles over months of time can much better than anywhere on Earth, and Mars equator regions can get more solar energy per day per square meter than Earth is currently harvesting solar energy [because in vastness of human stupidity, Germany is the “solar energy capital of the world” {and rainy Japan is also eager for the crown} rather than efforts of harvesting solar energy being focused on using in better locations on Earth].
                And equatorial [or non polar regions] and any day [which lacks a high level of Mars dust] could be reasonably good place to get solar energy- such as, the better places which can be found near urban areas in India or China [or Africa- excluding Sahara Desert].

              • denniswingo says:

                The problem with solar power on Mars and on the Earth is that it is a diffuse power source. For any kind of viable Martian society they will need multiple megawatts of power and without a LOT of launches you simply are not going to get that on Mars.

                I agree that Mars One should be focusing on the key issues that will affect its viability. However, they are not doing anymore than making the mistake that NASA makes in this regard. They simply assume that the power that they need will be there without understanding that power = life, whether on the Earth or Mars.

                But pick say 500 watts per square meter for 12 hours is 6 Kw.

                It really does not work this way. Cosine losses are independent of atmosphere. Also, if you read the NASA reports from Opportunity you will see that their “tau” is less than half of the 600 watts/m2, usually about .45-.49.

                Thus you need a tracking array AND you need a very high efficiency array, exceeding 40% to even get 1 kw/hr/day/m2.

            • gbaikie says:

              But pick say 500 watts per square meter for 12 hours is 6 Kw.

              -It really does not work this way. Cosine losses are independent of atmosphere. Also, if you read the NASA reports from Opportunity you will see that their “tau” is less than half of the 600 watts/m2, usually about .45-.49.

              Thus you need a tracking array AND you need a very high efficiency array, exceeding 40% to even get 1 kw/hr/day/m2.-

              The 6 kw hours refers total solar flux, not the amount of power one can get from solar panels. So I mean if panels had 20% efficiency, and solar panels are tracking sun, and there is little dust in atmosphere, it’s 6 times .2 or 1.2 kilowatt hours per day of electrical power per square meter.

              Opportunity [or Spirit] have 1.2 meters of solar panel area, and high efficiency
              [“27.5% beginning-of-life efficiency”] solar panels, but their solar panels don’t track the sun.
              “The total solar array area on the MER is 1.2 square meters.”

              http://hobbiton.thisside.net/rovermanual/

              “During the rovers’ prime missions, their solar arrays were able to produce about 900 watt-hours of energy per martian day, or sol.

              http://marsrovers.nasa.gov/technology/bb_power.html

              And a seemly small tilt in angle of solar panels can make a significant difference:
              “In the short term, Oppy will make sure that she’s getting enough solar power to keep driving and doing science: her winter spot on the outcropping kept her tilted 15 degrees northward towards the sun, and after this drive, she’s only tilted eight degrees.”

              http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/opportunity-rover-fires-up-engines-starts-another-year-exploring-mars

              So using terrain slope to get as much power as possible. And the Opportunity rover is very near Mars equator [ “1.948282 degrees S latitude, 354.47417 degrees E longitude for Opportunity.”

              http://starbrite.jpl.nasa.gov/pds/viewMissionProfile.jsp?MISSION_NAME=MARS%20EXPLORATION%20ROVER

              Mars axial tilt is 25.19° [only slightly more then Earth’s 23.44°].

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astronomy_on_Mars

              So winter is having the sun only about 25 degree off zenith at noon.
              Or same sun position on Earth at midsummer at 23.4 + 25 degree: about 49 latitude- or Paris at midsummer. Or Canadians or Brits don’t see the sun this high above horizon.

              And I would say what having the 15 degree tilt is mostly good for is the hours before and after 12 noon. Or as long as the sun position is only 45 degree or less off Zenith, one does not loses a lot of solar energy if on level ground [not sloped]. But if 25 degrees lower than zenith at 12 noon, it’s [roughly] losing 15 degree per hour on either side of 12 noon. So after 11 am and before 1 pm would not be affected much. But without the 15 degree slope in Mars wintertime, the times before11 am and after 1 pm takes larger losses in amount of solar hitting the solar panels.

              And also addition if one has dust in the atmosphere one is increasing amount loses if sunlight has travel thru it at low angle [if sun more the 45 degree away from Zenith one is significantly adding to the amount atmosphere the sun must pass through and adds to amount dust blocking the sun].

          • denniswingo says:

            I did an analysis at one time and figured that for Platinum Group Metals, the energy involved on extracting them on the Moon and transporting them to the earth would carry more energy value than to beam the energy from the Moon to the Earth. Lunar power beaming has never made any sense to me as that power is far more valuable than wasting most of it in broadcasting it to the Earth.

        • denniswingo says:

          As I stated to gbalkie’s post, that power is at least two orders of magnitude more valuable on the Moon for industrial purposes than to waste most of it beaming it back to the Earth.

        • gbaikie says:

          More regarding:
          -And let me point out that rocket fuel at $20 per lb is about 20 times the cost of rocket fuel on Earth, and 5 cent per Kw hour is in ballpark of price electrical power on Earth.-

          On Earth, it not profitable to split water to make Hydrogen.
          But on the Moon, there a higher demand [or higher cost/price] for Oxygen.
          So on the Moon when making rocket fuel one could have about 1/2 value being the oxygen [the larger component of rocket fuel mixture] and half the hydrogen.
          Or *if* on earth one could sell the oxygen one makes from splitting water for as much as the hydrogen you are selling, it could be more profitable to split water.

          Said differently, on Earth there are cheaper ways of getting Hydrogen and Oxygen as compared to getting by splitting water [Hydrogen from fossil fuels and Oxygen by refrigerating the atmosphere into a liquid air].

          So in terms of mass of water, one gets 8 times the oxygen for every one part hydrogen.
          So oxygen on the moon could be, say, $500 per lb and hydrogen may be $2000 per lb. And for rocket fuel in terms of the mass, one needs 6 parts oxygen per one part Hydrogen. 6 times 500 is $3000 and 1 part hydrogen is $2000.
          Totals $5000 per 7 lbs of rocket fuel or $714 per lb of rocket fuel.
          Or if rocket fuel is around $2000 per lb, Oxygen could somewhere around $1000 per lb and hydrogen $4000 per lb.
          The cheapness of Oxygen on lunar surface, could mean one ships just lunar oxygen from Lunar surface and ships the hydrogen [methane, kerosene, or whatever] from Earth. This is assuming hydrogen is in too much in demand [too expensive] to ship it from the Moon.
          But market prices [the amount of need for oxygen or hydrogen at lunar surface- would
          determine actual prices- keeping in mind that hydrogen is very useful mining and manufacture of various stuff and therefore it could [or could not] be in very high demand at lunar surface].
          And of course on the supply side of oxygen, other types of mining [other than water] could create an excessive/surplus of oxygen [40% of mass of Lunar or Earth surface is oxygen- in form of various oxides], thereby lowering oxygen prices and thereby lowering rocket fuel price.
          So if mining aluminum or iron ore, one is also a “rocket fuel maker” [one getting paid for oxygen mined].

          Or generally speaking, everything processed on the Moon could involve having no “waste products”.
          Or as on Earth, when you are slaughtering cows, almost every part of cow is used [sold] for some purpose- one could do same sort of thing on the Moon.

          And so one can see that addition aspect regarding the Moon, is one would encourage the development of “using every part of the cow” in terms mining and manufacturing in general {and such *developed lunar technology*- could have various unexpected “domestic uses” in terms of Earth’s mining and manufacturing].

      • billgamesh says:

        “I have read this literature extensively and none of their projections extend beyond 2100. Why?”

        Because every study done so far predicts the population will top out at 9 billion in 2070 and then decline. [editor snip]

        Bill, this is the last warning to you to write in a manner consistent with a reasonable discussion between intelligent adults.

        • denniswingo says:

          Bill

          This is why you get banned from forums, partly because you are rude and partly because you don’t really know what you are talking about most of the time and it annoys people. Your posts are disruptive to no positive effect. You are now hereby warned that unless you can post with more comportment you will also be banned here.

  25. Pingback: Space exploration and New France | Steve S. Grant

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s