PDA

View Full Version : Human Space Exploration: The Moon, Mars or niether?



Pattern
August 7 2012, 09:51:03 AM
Early enough in most of our lives we reached pretty important milestones in our own understanding of the universe. For me realising that space travel was possible, that we had visited the moon, and that we where still sending people to space was a highly inspirational facet of my earily childhood.

For a while, not only did I take the idea that it would continue for granted, I expected lunar bases, NERVA rockets to mars and Jovian gas harvesting by the end of my life time.

However, my early enthusiasm was tempered by the knowledge of just how far away everything was, the laws of relativity and politics. A trip to anywhere important would be ponderous, expensive and hazardous; what I hoped would be possible within decades, now seems centuries away.

However, not all is so gloomy, we leave in a reality wherein unmanned exporation is going off in a big way, from new horizons to due fly past pluto in 2014, to comercial space travel and asteriod prospecting finally beinging to take off. We have developing nations sending humans into space with China, and possibliy Russia looking towards the moon by the end of the next decade and we now at least, have the material science brake throughs to build space elevators, working early versions of drives that could propel interplanetary probes between worlds within weeks instead of months.

With the recent sucessful landing of Curiousity, we are seeing the convergance of social media and crowd funding (http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/06/curiosity-killed-the-apathy-fundnasa-crowdfunding-plea-taking-shape/) appearing at least, to challenge the way things are and empower the people who are willing to fight, vote, and pay for big things to happen.

So, it's in this context, I ask what should be human exporation goal be for our generation if you had the opportunity to directly fund a mission, and why?

Evelgrivion
August 7 2012, 09:59:41 AM
Moon, Mars, Asteroids; because we can, because it's hard, because it's cool, because it forces smart men to do smart things which will create smart results for the rest of us back on Earth. Ultimately, they should succeed in expanding the global economy's sphere of economic influence into the rest of the solar system. It's impractical, it's a little absurd, but it's too damn cool not to do. Nothing good will ever happen if nobody is willing to do something impractical in space.

Pattern
August 7 2012, 10:02:48 AM
Which would you prioritise? Which one would you directly fund (first?)

Pattern
August 7 2012, 10:20:18 AM
Bonus question, how much would you personally be perpared to pay for your mission of choice?

Smuggo
August 7 2012, 10:27:27 AM
I think prospecting for minerals and resources is a good first step. It would be good to establish what materials out there can be used as we could then look at the possibility of building some kind of orbital shipyard. If we could build spacecraft in space, this would, in the long-term, reduce a lot of the cost and risk of launching spacecraft and would also enable more innovative design that's not limited by the payload constraints of current launch vehicles.

Evelgrivion
August 7 2012, 10:32:13 AM
Realistically, budget is a smaller problem than the bureaucratic morass that has bogged down the agency in procedure and cyclical starts and stops on the whims of a Congress that is firmly divided into two camps: those who want to reduce NASA's budget so they can tell their constituents that they shrank the deficit, and those who want to increase NASA's budget so they can keep (or add more) jobs in their state. NASA has to battle with a shifting set of priorities with every election and every presidency; the most important thing to do right now, I think, is figure out how to improve NASA's autonomy without removing all accountability. I'm not sure how to strike the right balance there, let alone how to get the political inertia to make it happen.

Zeekar
August 7 2012, 10:34:23 AM
In this order:

Mineral mining from local near Earth asteroids.
Terra-formation of Venus with the intent of having colonies there.
Colonies on Mars.

The first one could be done quite fast and we are actually seeing some commercial interest in that.
Second one is hellowa lot trickier then any other since we are simply lacking the technology for it but in my opinion takes precedence over Mars since colonies on Mars will never be able to be outside domes since the planet is too small to have a suitable atmosphere.
Third one is a given if nothing else just for exploration of the red planet.

Id be willing to pay 100-500€ per each mission.

Aramendel
August 7 2012, 11:05:57 AM
Mineral mining from local near Earth asteroids.

That would be my pick as well.

Mars is the "best" destination if we wanted to establish a colony, but I do not see a real point in doing so now. With the current technology a Mars colony would still be very far from self-sustained. It would require regular shipment of goods which it cannot manufactor. Meaning if earth would die for some reason (asteroid, superplague, ron paul becoming president) Mars would too.

Moon would be interesting if we need H3 for fusion, otherwise it is not really rich in resources. And if we want to mine it we can do so remotely, it is near enough to the earth to do so.

Asteroid belt or NEOs would be the areas where sending actual humans could be actually useful.

However, I would still say our resources would be better used for improving the basics of a later expansion. I.e. creating a real industry in the earths orbit, improving how we send stuff in orbit, etc. Going "Human Space Exploration" without that would be a bit like crossing the Atlantic in a row boat.


colonies on Mars will never be able to be outside domes since the planet is too small to have a suitable atmosphere.

That is relative. Mars would keep bleeding atmosphere, if that is a problem or not depends how fast this bleeding is though. If we would only have to throw the mass of a new asteroid every year into the atmosphere to counter its bleeding effect it wouldn't be a major issue. If we would have to do that every day, on the other hand...

Steph
August 7 2012, 11:16:15 AM
Which would you prioritise? Which one would you directly fund (first?)

Seems to me the moon is the logical choice for a first kick at long-term off-planet habitation, if only because should shit go awry it's only a few days away to send the rescue party.

As for asteroid mining, the asteroid belt is (obviously lol) even further away than Mars, so would probably be the next step after the red planet. Any settlement in the belt, and you'd need a long-term settlement, would have to be self-sufficient; you can't realistically call home for help if something went awry.

The following paragraph is wack-ass sci-fi speculation.

In the long term, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are ideal (relatively speaking) for mining Helium-3, which is considered to be one of the best choices as fuel for fusion reactors because fusing it throws off a stray electron that can be directly captured. But that's a long way away. Ganymede would be a good spot for a stopover station; Europa would be nice if it had liquid water (and even pretty good for just ice), but IIRC Ganymede doesn't get as much nuking from Jupiter's radiation belts because it's farther away.

The moon also has some Helium-3, by the way.

Paradox
August 7 2012, 11:24:31 AM
A manned sample-return mission to Mars would be great but it would need funding, probably best way to get both funding and experience and infrastructure at the same time would be mining asteroids and selling the minerals.

The problem with men is that they're soft and tend to die in hard vacuum, I'd say that any mission that you intend to do with humans can and should be done with robots first.

Gotta be a better use of public taxes than the F-35 so I'm all for it.

In regards to crowd sourcing... yes... but it probably wouldn't work quite the same way as kickstarter, projects involving hardware tend to run over-budget and over-time so it would be a bit tricky to actually deliver precisely what people would be donating for. I'm not really sure how that would work.

elmicker
August 7 2012, 12:49:21 PM
Once you're out of the gravity well there's no point in going back. Asteroids all day every day.

Hel OWeen
August 7 2012, 02:00:07 PM
Which would you prioritise? Which one would you directly fund (first?)

Seems to me the moon is the logical choice for a first kick at long-term off-planet habitation, if only because should shit go awry it's only a few days away to send the rescue party.


This.

A permanent moon habitat/station should be the first major goal. "Major" as in other projects shouldn't be stopped alltogether, keep sending out those Opportunities, Curiosities and the likes.

A moon station has so many advantages (i.e. easier assembling of heavy parts, less fuel needed to overcome gravity at launch etc.) for further exploration, it seems to be a no-bainer as the starter project.

A moon station also implies advancements in other (space exploration-)crucial technologies which would help us elsewhere, too. Think robot/automated cargo transport (moon-earth logistics), extra-planetary resource harvesting.

While having a human plant his foot on Mars (or other planets/moons) would be another historical highlight and I would really go crazy if it would happen in my lifetime, from a technological POV it's a silly waste of resources and time. The time it takes to construct a safe environment and the resources (=mass) needed to keep that fragile carbon-based, oxygen-breathing creature alive would be better spent on research/exploration equipment.

Smuggo
August 7 2012, 02:07:50 PM
less fuel needed to overcome gravity at launch

Surely the problem is getting the fuel there in the first place no? No fossil fuels, which we're still highly reliant on for launches, and even in the lower gravity moon environment they would be needed. You'd spend a lot launching fuel to take to the moon, to then launch something else. Probably less efficient than just launching on Earth.

Aramendel
August 7 2012, 02:37:17 PM
Moon as launch base is rather redundant. You can just use the Lagrange points in the earth/moon orbit for that. Which are better since zero launch costs and no gravity hindering construction. Moon offers no real resources besides (possibly) water and H3 (assuming we need it), but bringing that to a Lagrange point is cheaper than bringing *everything* to the moon. And launching it from there too.

FourFiftyFour
August 7 2012, 02:41:55 PM
I'd like to see some kind of magnetic accelerator on the moon which use a nuke plant for power and disposable sleds for launches.

TheManFromDelmonte
August 7 2012, 03:59:56 PM
So, it's in this context, I ask what should be human exporation goal be for our generation if you had the opportunity to directly fund a mission, and why?

Two answers here. For unmanned exploration we need to start using something from space. It's not about going anywhere or setting up a base or anything, we need a resource from space we can use for further exploration as a start in becoming self sufficient up there. As I've said unmanned I don't include water in this. If all we can find is iron or platinum from asteroids then we need to head towards using that. Even if it's inefficient compared to using materials on earth we'll have to mine, refine and use it to finish a satellite.

Second answer, the manned exploration, we need to know far more about ecology and for that we need to recreate the Biosphere II project. It was a bit of a farce in the end but understanding the details of an isolated ecosystem is an essential step in moving people anywhere to survive without just being supplied forever. So we have to build many biospheres on earth, sealed up, and experiment to find out how they work.

People aren't really needed in them, we just need large mammals and the ability to analyse them in detail without breaking the seal.

elmicker
August 7 2012, 04:06:44 PM
I'd like to see some kind of magnetic accelerator on the moon which use a nuke plant for power and disposable sleds for launches.

i never understand this. why the moon? why not some kind of magnetic accelerator in free space? why involve the moon at all? there's nothing there that we can't get easier and cheaper from an asteroid. plus you can actually have earth-normal gravity in free space. living on the moon is almost certain to involve inordinate effort to avoid bone and muscle atrophy.


As I've said unmanned I don't include water in this.

protip: water is rocket fuel.

dpidcoe
August 7 2012, 04:42:38 PM
The first goal(s) would need to be earth based. Firstly establishing a better/cheaper way to get tonnage into space. Some kind of EM mass driver up the side of a mountain seems like a good choice, or maybe even aircraft deployed rockets. Having that initial velocity and also being a mile or two closer to space before having to kick in the rockets can definitely help out a lot with the payload to fuel ratio. Secondly would be some kind of biosphere style research. Use the lessons learned from the previous ones to do it better, and with several at once. It doesn't even need to achieve 100% self sufficiency either. They should aim for just limiting the amount of outside resources that are needed to sustain it. If you could make a lunar colony run for two years without needing a resupply, that's a lot better than one that can only go for 6 months.

First non-earth goal would be to establish an orbital structure with centrifugal gravity that could be staffed full time and eventually used as a base for missions to lunar colonies and such. And even if no one wants to make a lunar colony, at the least it can act as a research station and a cool landmark to use as a target for other privately build spacecraft. Maybe even design it with the idea of hosting some space tourists.


Bonus question, how much would you personally be perpared to pay for your mission of choice?
Realistically with the kind of funds I can expect to have available with a normal job, I would have no problem paying 25-50k for a few days trip to a space station. Now if I were a multi-billionare, I'd look into how much it would cost to build and maintain an orbital base that could be permanently lived in (being resupplied at intervals). If it looked like I could do it with my current funds, I'd dump everything I had into it, with the plan of living on the thing for as much of the rest of my life as possible. I would probably also look into letting other people buy into it and/or letting people pay to ride along on the resupply missions and visit to keep things interesting/help cover costs.

edit:
why not some kind of magnetic accelerator in free space? because of newton.

Aramendel
August 7 2012, 05:50:06 PM
why not some kind of magnetic accelerator in free space? because of newton.

You would still first have to counter the moons gravity. Also, a spacebased magnetic accelerator could counter the recoil by changing the direction of the next "shot" to counter the recoil from the first one. Also an advantage of a spacebound one, on the moon you will have a a lot smaller firing area.

KathDougans
August 7 2012, 07:07:41 PM
a fuel depot, or several of them.

would allow spacecraft to be launched fairly empty, to fuel up at the depot, then onto the rest of the solar system.

FourFiftyFour
August 7 2012, 07:17:08 PM
I'd like to see some kind of magnetic accelerator on the moon which use a nuke plant for power and disposable sleds for launches.

i never understand this. why the moon? why not some kind of magnetic accelerator in free space? why involve the moon at all? there's nothing there that we can't get easier and cheaper from an asteroid. plus you can actually have earth-normal gravity in free space. living on the moon is almost certain to involve inordinate effort to avoid bone and muscle atrophy.


As I've said unmanned I don't include water in this.

protip: water is rocket fuel.

I was thinking that you'd need the accelerator to be anchored to something because of the physics of firing something off like that. The moon has much less gravity than earth so theres that as well. It's much closer than any asteroid.

If you could build one in free space all the better. I just didn't think it was possible.

Evelgrivion
August 7 2012, 07:22:05 PM
To actually answer the OP, I'd go with asteroids first for the sake of economic development, followed with a manned Mars landing, then a colony on the moon, and then the colonization of Mars. I'd be willing to spend at least $250 per mission.

elmicker
August 7 2012, 08:03:00 PM
because of newton.

fire payload forward, fire inconsequential mass backwards, hey presto you've solved newton.

FourFiftyFour
August 7 2012, 08:25:34 PM
You're expending a lot of extra energy doing that though.

definatelynotKKassandra
August 7 2012, 08:31:47 PM
You're expending a lot of extra energy doing that though.

So you should build your launcher at the bottom of a gravity well instead?

dpidcoe
August 7 2012, 08:49:07 PM
because of newton.

fire payload forward, fire inconsequential mass backwards, hey presto you've solved newton.
Even if you fire a mass equal to your spaceship backwards at the same time, you still need to get that mass to the accelerator somehow (presumably on chemical rockets?) which will probably kill your efficiency. The one thing that might work in that case would be to make the accelerator sufficiently more massive than whatever it's accelerating, than use a solar sail or some ion engines to correct the trajectory over the course of a few days after launch.

Also, not only is the escape velocity of the moon something like 2.8km/s compared to earths 11.2km/s, but there's also no air resistance, making it a lot better gain than it initially appears to be.

Aramendel
August 7 2012, 08:56:20 PM
You do not need either. *cough*




why not some kind of magnetic accelerator in free space? because of newton.

You would still first have to counter the moons gravity. Also, a spacebased magnetic accelerator could counter the recoil by changing the direction of the next "shot" to counter the recoil from the first one. Also an advantage of a spacebound one, on the moon you will have a a lot smaller firing area.

Ideally, a spacebound accelerator would be part of the same object where you dock, fuel, maintain and construct ships. Meaning its mass >>> any ships it launches. So recoil only becomes an issue if you keep launching ships in the same direction all the time. But for that you would have to not only have the same destination, you would have the same time of launch as well. Which is rather unlikely.

You could even have dual launch tubes in opposite directions for ships, making recoil a relative nonissue. Ideally you will use earth for a slingshot maneuver anyway so it doesn't really matter in which direction you are shot at as long at it is usable for a slingshotting.

Smuggo
August 7 2012, 09:52:27 PM
a fuel depot, or several of them.

would allow spacecraft to be launched fairly empty, to fuel up at the depot, then onto the rest of the solar system.

You still need to transport fuel to the depot though, which uses fuel as well.

KathDougans
August 7 2012, 10:02:16 PM
a fuel depot, or several of them.

would allow spacecraft to be launched fairly empty, to fuel up at the depot, then onto the rest of the solar system.

You still need to transport fuel to the depot though, which uses fuel as well.

True enough, but as I understand things, it would make sending large spacecraft to further parts of the solar system considerably easier.

like, to move say 100t of fuel to an orbiting depot using 10 small rockets, then launch a bigger craft to meet up with the depot and use the 100t of fuel to go elsewhere, uses a lot less fuel in total than trying to get the large craft+100t of fuel into orbit.

Steph
August 7 2012, 10:29:25 PM
Two reasons to set up long-term habitation on the moon:

1) A testbed for long-term habitation projects on other celestial bodies, like Mars, or Ceres(big asteroid in ze belt), or Ganymede, etc
2) When testbed habitat is no longer needed, can be sold to the civilian sector as an elaborate space resort. Because you know someone would want it, and if space travel were cheap enough it'd be huge. 8-)

FourFiftyFour
August 7 2012, 10:50:29 PM
You do not need either. *cough*




why not some kind of magnetic accelerator in free space? because of newton.

You would still first have to counter the moons gravity. Also, a spacebased magnetic accelerator could counter the recoil by changing the direction of the next "shot" to counter the recoil from the first one. Also an advantage of a spacebound one, on the moon you will have a a lot smaller firing area.

Ideally, a spacebound accelerator would be part of the same object where you dock, fuel, maintain and construct ships. Meaning its mass >>> any ships it launches. So recoil only becomes an issue if you keep launching ships in the same direction all the time. But for that you would have to not only have the same destination, you would have the same time of launch as well. Which is rather unlikely.

You could even have dual launch tubes in opposite directions for ships, making recoil a relative nonissue. Ideally you will use earth for a slingshot maneuver anyway so it doesn't really matter in which direction you are shot at as long at it is usable for a slingshotting.

Good post. I admittedly hadn't thought the idea all the way through so thanks for explaining all that.

Imagining the physics of something like that in your head is hard to do when you've never really had to consider those concepts on that scale before.

elmicker
August 7 2012, 11:29:51 PM
True enough, but as I understand things, it would make sending large spacecraft to further parts of the solar system considerably easier.

like, to move say 100t of fuel to an orbiting depot using 10 small rockets, then launch a bigger craft to meet up with the depot and use the 100t of fuel to go elsewhere, uses a lot less fuel in total than trying to get the large craft+100t of fuel into orbit.

you don't need to launch the fuel into space. rocket fuel is just hydrogen and oxygen. what do you get when you combine hydrogen and oxygen? water! what are asteroids (sometimes) made of? ice!

launch a nuclear reactor into space, use the power it generates to melt icy asteroids and electrolyse the resulting water, hey presto you've got a fuel depot in space. done properly you can then use the fuel in situ to move the asteroid into a more useful position (HEO or L4/5) and you've then got an abundant fuel source in space, plus a source of oxygen and water for human life outside of earth.

Hell, to move the asteroid you wouldn't even need to electrolyse the water and burn it, just boiling it off and directing the steam would give sufficient thrust. Remember when we're talking about space even very modest forces, when applied over a long enough time, render the results you want. NASA and co want to use a variant of this technique to deal with space junk. They want to build a fuckoff great big earth-based laser to shoot at junk in orbit, not to "destroy" it, but to simply cause a small area of the junk to boil off, giving a nice jet of vapor forcing the object out of its orbit and into earth's atmosphere.

JForce
August 8 2012, 06:27:39 AM
Couple of thoughts/questions:

1) How practical is it to launch a nuclear reactor into space? The smallest ones are what, some of the university ones, or a submarine or something? Even then how big are they compared with our current ability to launch objects? Is it doable, or are we talking a new massive rocket to lift something that big?

Cause it seems like a pretty straight forward deal to me - hell you could probably do the asteroid thing unmanned anyway - fire reactor at it, plug in, boil away some shit etc to get it closer - then go there and do whatever.

2) The space-junk problem has always annoyed me - as in, I see several (what I think are) easy solutions to clean up the whole lot, cause it's all the tiny bits that are the problem. Magnets - now that could be out simply cause it's all aluminium etc and non-magnetic, but I'm not sure on that. Otherwise just put a giant fuck-off pool-scoop up that just cruises around and the stuff crashes into it. Adjust course a tiny bit, go around again - is the issue that the speeds/forces of the tiny items is such that you'd need tank armour on the thing, which is impossible to launch as too heavy?

definatelynotKKassandra
August 8 2012, 08:34:53 AM
Your space junk idea wouldn't make a noticeable difference because space is big and the numbers are huge. You can't eradicate malaria with a flyswatter, even if it's the biggest, best, most advanced flyswatter man can conceive.

Smuggo
August 8 2012, 09:41:53 AM
Couple of thoughts/questions:

1) How practical is it to launch a nuclear reactor into space? The smallest ones are what, some of the university ones, or a submarine or something? Even then how big are they compared with our current ability to launch objects? Is it doable, or are we talking a new massive rocket to lift something that big?


I think when launching anything radioactive you need to bear in mind the risks that the craft burns up on launch, and then there's a potentially substantial risk of spreading nuclear material through the atmosphere that will eventually come down to Earth. I'd guess the amount of material needed to run probes and such, like Curiosity, is relatively small and thus not a major risk in the atmosphere, but if you wanted to put a reactor that would generate some serious power up there presumably the amount of nuclear material and the consequent risks to life on Earth reach some unacceptable level.

Diicc Tater
August 8 2012, 10:42:39 AM
Classical EvE roid mining. :companioncube:
Space elevator.
Assembly plants "outside" planetary gravity wells.
Mars base for science like geology, biology, archaeology, ecology etc etc.

SAI Peregrinus
August 8 2012, 11:47:01 AM
Actually, water is fuel.
The Moon has no atmosphere, so solar panels work fine. No clouds, though there is a night. That lets you electrolyze the water into hydrogen and oxygen, then use it in fuel cells.

Still probably not economical to lift all that gear to the moon when one could use a Lagrange point, but it is possible.

definatelynotKKassandra
August 8 2012, 12:10:51 PM
I hope that this 'use solar panels to electrolyse water' is part of a plan to ship that hydrogen and oxygen somewhere else. Otherwise the laws of thermodynamics would like a word.

NoirAvlaa
August 8 2012, 12:19:55 PM
You do not need either. *cough*




why not some kind of magnetic accelerator in free space? because of newton.

You would still first have to counter the moons gravity. Also, a spacebased magnetic accelerator could counter the recoil by changing the direction of the next "shot" to counter the recoil from the first one. Also an advantage of a spacebound one, on the moon you will have a a lot smaller firing area.

Ideally, a spacebound accelerator would be part of the same object where you dock, fuel, maintain and construct ships. Meaning its mass >>> any ships it launches. So recoil only becomes an issue if you keep launching ships in the same direction all the time. But for that you would have to not only have the same destination, you would have the same time of launch as well. Which is rather unlikely.

You could even have dual launch tubes in opposite directions for ships, making recoil a relative nonissue. Ideally you will use earth for a slingshot maneuver anyway so it doesn't really matter in which direction you are shot at as long at it is usable for a slingshotting.

Any reason you can't use an electro-magnetic launcher? ie. spaceship sits in the middle of it, electro-magnetic rail-gun for ships "lauches"(shoots) ships out into the slingshot tragectory. Asides from it needing to be a fucking massive electro-magnetic tube, is there any reason it wouldn't work? Would solve recoil right?

TheManFromDelmonte
August 8 2012, 12:20:24 PM
launch a nuclear reactor into space

Please don't. If you find the uranium/whatever up there you can launch an empty one and put it in at a lagrange point but I'd rather not have a reactor flying overhead attached to rocket fuel. Perhaps I'm worrying about nothing here and you can correct me.

I left off the manufacture of rocket fuel as I didn't think solar panels were good enough to break it down properly. But it looks like you can get 1MW out of them up there without too much trouble. A large installation might work. I'll change my unmanned answer to a solar powered water splitter. Thanks for the info!

elmicker
August 8 2012, 12:24:13 PM
I suppose you could do it with solar but that's boring.

Honestly the mass of a nuclear reactor is probably prohibitively large to allow it to be launched anyway, short of something like Skylon cutting launch costs by a factor of 10-100.

Aramendel
August 8 2012, 01:39:36 PM
...Would solve recoil right?

Er... either I am totally misunderstanding what you wrote or I am having a huge physics fail moment or....no, it wouldn't.

It doesn't matter how you launch something, you will have always recoil. If you give an object some energy to accelerate its inertia will apply the same force in the opposite direction. The only way something doesn't causes recoil is if itself supplies its acceleration energy, i.e. rockets.

Hel OWeen
August 8 2012, 01:42:21 PM
less fuel needed to overcome gravity at launch

Surely the problem is getting the fuel there in the first place no? No fossil fuels, which we're still highly reliant on for launches, and even in the lower gravity moon environment they would be needed. You'd spend a lot launching fuel to take to the moon, to then launch something else. Probably less efficient than just launching on Earth.

Please note: I'm trying to repeat what I thought I understood from various resources I've consumed over time on that topic. I'm nowhere near an experte on that matter and need to trust "the experts" on this. That implies a lot of possibilities to be wrong for me: "experts" not being experts. Science has come to new conclusions meanwhile or (the most likely reason) I was to dumb to understand the facts presented.

Harvest moon itself (H3). Harvesting other resources (asteroids etc.) might be also easier when done moon-based.


Moon as launch base is rather redundant. You can just use the Lagrange points in the earth/moon orbit for that. Which are better since zero launch costs and no gravity hindering construction. Moon offers no real resources besides (possibly) water and H3 (assuming we need it), but bringing that to a Lagrange point is cheaper than bringing *everything* to the moon. And launching it from there too.

Very good point. It might be more economical to launch from a "solid ground" with a bit of gravity, though. Very trivial example: being able to lay your tools aside/on the ground for a moment without needing some extra measures to avoid them floating away. But I really have no idea. The bean counters need to figure that one out. ;)



Any reason you can't use an electro-magnetic launcher? ie. spaceship sits in the middle of it, electro-magnetic rail-gun for ships "lauches"(shoots) ships out into the slingshot tragectory. Asides from it needing to be a fucking massive electro-magnetic tube, is there any reason it wouldn't work? Would solve recoil right?


I've heard of that examples, too. That's basically a Gauss or Rail gun with the spacecraft as its "bullet". Not sure how serious this can be taken. The idea sounded nice. It would also solve another problem: the enormous and long persisting dust clouds (assuming moon-based launch) that would be created when using traditional chemical rocket engines.

Smuggo
August 8 2012, 02:04:33 PM
less fuel needed to overcome gravity at launch

Surely the problem is getting the fuel there in the first place no? No fossil fuels, which we're still highly reliant on for launches, and even in the lower gravity moon environment they would be needed. You'd spend a lot launching fuel to take to the moon, to then launch something else. Probably less efficient than just launching on Earth.

Please note: I'm trying to repeat what I thought I understood from various resources I've consumed over time on that topic. I'm nowhere near an experte on that matter and need to trust "the experts" on this. That implies a lot of possibilities to be wrong for me: "experts" not being experts. Science has come to new conclusions meanwhile or (the most likely reason) I was to dumb to understand the facts presented.

Harvest moon itself (H3). Harvesting other resources (asteroids etc.) might be also easier when done moon-based.


The basic principle is correct, it's just the practical nature of it. Lets say we had a huge reserve of ready to use rocket fuel on the moon, and all the stuff we need to build a rocket already, just like we do on Earth. In this case then it's true that it would be significantly more fuel efficient to launch from the Moon than Earth.

The practical problem though is that we would need to first get all these items to the Moon before we can launch from there, which of course uses fuel, probably a lot more fuel than we would stand to save from a moon launch.

Even if we built a space elevator, you would be better off building your craft at the top of the space elevator than on the moon, as then it still requires less fuel and is less constrained by the design requirements of being able to survive a launch that currently dictate rocket design.

Aramendel
August 8 2012, 02:38:13 PM
It might be more economical to launch from a "solid ground" with a bit of gravity, though. Very trivial example: being able to lay your tools aside/on the ground for a moment without needing some extra measures to avoid them floating away

No. No. Really: No.

Making spaceships does not work like changing a tire. Besides, you could solve that rather easily by using magnets. In general gravity would hinder construction a lot. Not only because ..well.. things weight stuff, but also because it does not really make sense to construct a spaceship under gravity.

That's a bit like creating a ship for the oceans surface 1 mile underwater. Sure, you could do it, but you would have to design the ship in such a way that it survives the underwater conditions as well as the surface conditions.

Another problem is the moon dust. Construction on the moon would have to happen in sealed halls which a rather extensive mechanism to keep them clean too. In space you can do it in the open.


I've heard of that examples, too. That's basically a Gauss or Rail gun with the spacecraft as its "bullet". Not sure how serious this can be taken. The idea sounded nice. It would also solve another problem: the enormous and long persisting dust clouds (assuming moon-based launch) that would be created when using traditional chemical rocket engines.

I always assumed right from the start that we are talking about electromagnetic guns, it is the only thing which makes sense.

If you use chemical engines to shoot stuff recoil is a total nonissue anyway because you do not need to launch those from a certain object, they launch themselves.

Tarminic
August 8 2012, 02:38:15 PM
I think the first thing we need is a real self-sustainable presence in orbit. The ISS was an amazing accomplishment for its time, but it's still essentially a cramped space-bunker that needs to be resupplied on a regular basis.

Hel OWeen
August 8 2012, 03:16:10 PM
That's a bit like creating a ship for the oceans surface 1 mile underwater. Sure, you could do it, but you would have to design the ship in such a way that it survives the underwater conditions as well as the surface conditions.


Dude ... I dunno understand ... can you mangle that into a car analogy? ;)

No, serious: good example for dummies like me. Makes sense. Thx for that.

Hatepeace Lovewar
August 8 2012, 03:45:19 PM
On the topic of Nuclear reactors in space, I read an interesting article today on the topic of post cold war Plutonium shortage (http://astroguyz.com/2011/07/27/no-nukes-what-the-plutonium-stoppage-means-to-the-space-program/) as a result of the ceasition of Nuclear Weapons manufacture and how it is likely to impact NASA in a big way when putting together Cassini like probes in the future.


Regarding construction in space, my opinion is we should, but only once the cost of moving stuff in to space in reduced. You might argue that you won't need to build stuff in space at that point, but as has already been pointed out you wouldn't build a boat under water, and there is the concept that even with affordable access to Space there is still an economy for building stuff in space (http://www.rocketpunk-manifesto.com/2009/09/building-things-in-space.html).

definatelynotKKassandra
August 8 2012, 04:16:42 PM
Not really - there are plenty of other isotopes lying around in spent fuel from power stations that you can use to powe RTGs. Americium is probably the most obvious one. The only requirement is that it's active enough to get hot and ling enough lived to not run down before the rest of the probe. Ease of working, friendly chemistry etc are a bonus.

Calks
August 8 2012, 04:20:27 PM
I read 'Mining The Sky' recently, written by this gentleman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_S._Lewis), and although it was written about 15 years ago it offered a lot of practical reasoning on the whys and wherefores of a lot of the issues you chaps are discussing, it even covers space elevators...

The author talks about pros and cons of basing operations on the moon/mars/asteroids etc, as well as where all the fuel for these & future expeditions would come from. The only information that felt dated was regarding automation of tasks, the fields of robotics & computing has advanced a lot since he wrote this and we will arguably be conducting any initial exploration remotely.

Anyway, definitely worth a read if you have more than a passing interest in this stuff, and the science isn't too heavy either.

Zeekar
August 8 2012, 08:11:17 PM
I think the first thing we need is a real self-sustainable presence in orbit. The ISS was an amazing accomplishment for its time, but it's still essentially a cramped space-bunker that needs to be resupplied on a regular basis.

Selfsustained ? Maybe by the end of our lifetime.

SAI Peregrinus
August 8 2012, 08:56:25 PM
I hope that this 'use solar panels to electrolyse water' is part of a plan to ship that hydrogen and oxygen somewhere else. Otherwise the laws of thermodynamics would like a word.

It's for landing on the moon/mars and using it to as a fuel. Hugely inefficient, but if setting up a long term base/fuel depot for future missions it may be a good idea. And for Mars it might allow production of return-trip fuel.

elmicker
August 8 2012, 09:49:57 PM
It's for converting solar or nuclear energy into useful chemical [potential] energy to shoot out of the back of a rocket. Obviously.

Hatepeace Lovewar
August 9 2012, 09:02:40 AM
Not really - there are plenty of other isotopes lying around in spent fuel from power stations that you can use to powe RTGs. Americium is probably the most obvious one. The only requirement is that it's active enough to get hot and ling enough lived to not run down before the rest of the probe. Ease of working, friendly chemistry etc are a bonus.

The article discusses other isotopes (mentions thorium in particular) and indeed even touches on Solar (and it's inability to fulfill operational requirements beyond jupiter) but it's conclusion is there are no other isotopes that are as effective as Plutionium 235 and it's going to limit and or cost NASA more to operate these sort of probes without it (given our current technological understanding which is of course subject to change).

Marlona Sky
August 11 2012, 12:32:08 AM
This is an interesting topic. I wonder with all the danger of the smallest thing going wrong and people dying; how many of you would go?

Zeekar
August 11 2012, 09:36:32 AM
In a heartbeat.

SAI Peregrinus
August 11 2012, 11:02:27 AM
This is an interesting topic. I wonder with all the danger of the smallest thing going wrong and people dying; how many of you would go?

Yes.
I'd volunteer for a 1-way trip to Mars. I'd rather die helping expand the knowledge of all humanity than waste away 60 years from now having had no opportunity to do anything of equivalent importance.

Pattern
August 11 2012, 11:09:56 AM
Re: Moon - has anyone not considered the fact that a much greater density/concentration of resources might outway the whole gravity well thing?

elmicker
August 11 2012, 12:20:56 PM
Re: Moon - has anyone not considered the fact that a much greater density/concentration of resources might outway the whole gravity well thing?

What makes you think the moon has a greater density/concentration (same thing) of resources than a given asteroid?

Hatepeace Lovewar
August 11 2012, 01:13:54 PM
This is an interesting topic. I wonder with all the danger of the smallest thing going wrong and people dying; how many of you would go?

o/

Aramendel
August 11 2012, 01:18:56 PM
What makes you think the moon has a greater density/concentration (same thing) of resources than a given asteroid?

That.

The moon is aside from H3 rather resource poor. It consists mainly out of resource poor upper mantel material and also has few of the mechanics which produce rich deposits on earth. I.e. of of the major mechanics for creating those is when magma comes into contact with the ground water. Plate tectonics and erosion can also transport other deposits, which form only several km below ground level, upwards for easy access.

Certain Asteroids, on the other hand, are basically huge chucks of ore which is as good (or better) as whatever you can find on earth. And it does not cost much in energy to send them to us (aka into an orbit with earth), assuming you are okay with waiting a decade.


This is an interesting topic. I wonder with all the danger of the smallest thing going wrong and people dying; how many of you would go?

I wouldn't. I like it here. But I would happily be part of a crowdfunding effort.

Pattern
August 11 2012, 04:30:41 PM
Re: Moon - has anyone not considered the fact that a much greater density/concentration of resources might outway the whole gravity well thing?

What makes you think the moon has a greater density/concentration (same thing) of resources than a given asteroid?
You have millions of impact craters over only 14.6 million square miles of lunar surface vs hundreds of tillions of miles squared worth of near empty space?

Warpath
August 12 2012, 06:24:55 PM
and we now at least, have the material science brake throughs to build space elevators,

Since when? yes they have carbon nanotubes, but these are no where near ready or strong enough to form a cable that long yet. As far as I know the record length of cable they managed to make and get a robotic vehicle to climb was around half a mile in length in 2009? (As quoted by national geographic) even when they have perfected this, the cargo hold of the climber will reputedly only hold around 14 tons or so. So it will take ages to get enough materials into space to build a decent sized craft given that the trip from earth to space will reputedly take a couple of weeks or more?

Doomed Predator
August 12 2012, 06:41:49 PM
I think the first thing we need is a real self-sustainable presence in orbit. The ISS was an amazing accomplishment for its time, but it's still essentially a cramped space-bunker that needs to be resupplied on a regular basis.

You can't really have a self-sustaining space station. It will always need water for fuel/consumption and materials for repairs.


Creating a self-sustaining base on the moon,Mars or an asteroid seems like a massive amount of effort. A space elevator to ferry materials to a space station that could construct ships would be the best option. I have no idea how far apart they need to be if you have more than 1, but surely you could build a few in relative proximity so you could ferry more stuff up if space elevators require weeks for a round trip.

Warpath
August 12 2012, 07:38:25 PM
Ultimately if we are to get anywhere in space outside of our solar system we really need to start researching much more exotic propulsion systems. and ways of getting ships, crews and materials into space much cheaper than even the private sector can at the moment. One of the biggest breakthroughs would surely be Anti Grav? In the early/mid 50's there was reputedly an article in an aviation industry journal called Inter Avia where the heads of most of the leading aircraft companies and several academics of that time spoke openly of the fact that they were researching this, but that it would most likely take more resources than the Manhattan Project had and at least a decade to crack. Within a few years though they were denying all knowledge of any research and any academics using the phrase Anti Grav was branded a nut job. Hinting at the fact that the projects had gone black and were being covered up. Given that we are now several decades on from when this was going on even if they did not crack it, it would be nice to have the research out in the open so that people would have a head start on what has already been disproved, and what has been found?

Aramendel
August 12 2012, 08:33:24 PM
You have millions of impact craters over only 14.6 million square miles of lunar surface vs hundreds of tillions of miles squared worth of near empty space?

The problem is that these impacts have also spread that material over a rather large area. The moon has no atmosphere breaking particles so they can fly quite some distance. It is likely not very economical mining impact sites.

Hatepeace Lovewar
August 12 2012, 09:04:39 PM
Any one heard about this (http://www.humanipo.com/blog/437/19-year-old-girl-in-Egypt-invents-a-spacecraft-propulsion-device)




A 19-year-old Egyptian university student called Aisha Mustafa has invented a propulsion device intended to offer spacecrafts a new method and cheaper means of energy consumption.

The propulsion device promises chances of using quantum physics and chemical reactions in artificial satellites, instead of the current radioactive-based jets and ordinary rocket engines.

Mustafa’s device is based on a scientific mix between quantum physics, space technology, chemical reactions and electrical sciences.

Mustafa said the inventions generates energy for space vehicles from electric energy formed by Casimir-polder force, which occurs between separate surfaces and objects in a vacuum and by the zero-point energy considered as the lowest state of energy.

The device uses reflective panels for additional force which resembles photovoltaic solar cells.

At present, artificial satellites, spacecrafts and space vehicles depend on rocket gas engines that use forced gas at a supersonic speed, or chemical reactions rockets propelled by solid or liquid fuels such as radionuclide or petroleum. Others use electrically propelled probes, which depend on thrusting force via accelerating ions.

The physics student at Sohag University told EGYNews agency she has patented the device with Egyptian Academy of scientific Research and Technology (ASRT).

The invention is related to a hypothetical concept of a jet propulsion called “Differential Sail”, theoretically created by NASA’s retired professor Marc G. Millis -- who led NASA breakthrough propulsion physics project.

Dr. Ahmed Fikry, Mustafa’s supervisor, said the invention would be highly beneficial in several fields and areas of industries once adopted.

The 19-year-old says she aims at testing her invention at major scientific research organisations hence the possibility of applying it in upcoming space missions.

The new invention, analysts say, is expected to make space travels, easier, cheaper and faster in future.


Can't find much about it, more specifically as a concept how fast can it make shit go. One thing is for certain, they have been watching Stargate, with all this zero point energy malarkey.

Zeekar
August 12 2012, 09:13:06 PM
I think the first thing we need is a real self-sustainable presence in orbit. The ISS was an amazing accomplishment for its time, but it's still essentially a cramped space-bunker that needs to be resupplied on a regular basis.

You can't really have a self-sustaining space station. It will always need water for fuel/consumption and materials for repairs.


Creating a self-sustaining base on the moon,Mars or an asteroid seems like a massive amount of effort. A space elevator to ferry materials to a space station that could construct ships would be the best option. I have no idea how far apart they need to be if you have more than 1, but surely you could build a few in relative proximity so you could ferry more stuff up if space elevators require weeks for a round trip.

You could. Most water can be recycled same goes with air, additional water can be taken from asteroids. Fusion/fission power materials can be recovered from asteroids same with raw materials needed to expand the station. The catch is the bloody thing would be enormous and its far from our ability to make with no tangible benefit.

Doomed Predator
August 12 2012, 09:22:20 PM
I think the first thing we need is a real self-sustainable presence in orbit. The ISS was an amazing accomplishment for its time, but it's still essentially a cramped space-bunker that needs to be resupplied on a regular basis.

You can't really have a self-sustaining space station. It will always need water for fuel/consumption and materials for repairs.


Creating a self-sustaining base on the moon,Mars or an asteroid seems like a massive amount of effort. A space elevator to ferry materials to a space station that could construct ships would be the best option. I have no idea how far apart they need to be if you have more than 1, but surely you could build a few in relative proximity so you could ferry more stuff up if space elevators require weeks for a round trip.

You could. Most water can be recycled same goes with air, additional water can be taken from asteroids. Fusion/fission power materials can be recovered from asteroids same with raw materials needed to expand the station. The catch is the bloody thing would be enormous and its far from our ability to make with no tangible benefit.

I though by self-sufficient it was meant "don't have to travel far for anything". Sure you could recycle water/air and mine stuff you needed from asteroids(which are further than Mars). I doubt it would be a good idea to stick such a large object in the middle of the asteroid belt. I never said it was impossible, just that the effort would be far greater than necessary.

Zeekar
August 12 2012, 09:50:35 PM
You dont have to go to asteroids in the asteroid cluster between Mars and Jupiter you have several asteroid clusters closer to Earth.

Good read here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-Earth_object

Any station will need resources now for the self-sustainable thing it just depends how you define it. Personally id define it if it can get everything without help from Earth then its self-sustaining.

Shaikar
August 12 2012, 10:07:09 PM
Any one heard about this (http://www.humanipo.com/blog/437/19-year-old-girl-in-Egypt-invents-a-spacecraft-propulsion-device)


A 19-year-old Egyptian university student called Aisha Mustafa has invented a propulsion device intended to offer spacecrafts a new method and cheaper means of energy consumption.

The propulsion device promises chances of using quantum physics and chemical reactions in artificial satellites, instead of the current radioactive-based jets and ordinary rocket engines.

Mustafa’s device is based on a scientific mix between quantum physics, space technology, chemical reactions and electrical sciences.

Mustafa said the inventions generates energy for space vehicles from electric energy formed by Casimir-polder force, which occurs between separate surfaces and objects in a vacuum and by the zero-point energy considered as the lowest state of energy.

The device uses reflective panels for additional force which resembles photovoltaic solar cells.

At present, artificial satellites, spacecrafts and space vehicles depend on rocket gas engines that use forced gas at a supersonic speed, or chemical reactions rockets propelled by solid or liquid fuels such as radionuclide or petroleum. Others use electrically propelled probes, which depend on thrusting force via accelerating ions.

The physics student at Sohag University told EGYNews agency she has patented the device with Egyptian Academy of scientific Research and Technology (ASRT).

The invention is related to a hypothetical concept of a jet propulsion called “Differential Sail”, theoretically created by NASA’s retired professor Marc G. Millis -- who led NASA breakthrough propulsion physics project.

Dr. Ahmed Fikry, Mustafa’s supervisor, said the invention would be highly beneficial in several fields and areas of industries once adopted.

The 19-year-old says she aims at testing her invention at major scientific research organisations hence the possibility of applying it in upcoming space missions.

The new invention, analysts say, is expected to make space travels, easier, cheaper and faster in future.
Can't find much about it, more specifically as a concept how fast can it make shit go. One thing is for certain, they have been watching Stargate, with all this zero point energy malarkey. A scientific mix of science that allows quantum physics to be used in space to make things go but which can't be independently verified or reviewed due to a patent application? Sounds legit to me.

Aea
August 12 2012, 11:49:06 PM
Any one heard about this (http://www.humanipo.com/blog/437/19-year-old-girl-in-Egypt-invents-a-spacecraft-propulsion-device)


A 19-year-old Egyptian university student called Aisha Mustafa has invented a propulsion device intended to offer spacecrafts a new method and cheaper means of energy consumption.

The propulsion device promises chances of using quantum physics and chemical reactions in artificial satellites, instead of the current radioactive-based jets and ordinary rocket engines.

Mustafa’s device is based on a scientific mix between quantum physics, space technology, chemical reactions and electrical sciences.

Mustafa said the inventions generates energy for space vehicles from electric energy formed by Casimir-polder force, which occurs between separate surfaces and objects in a vacuum and by the zero-point energy considered as the lowest state of energy.

The device uses reflective panels for additional force which resembles photovoltaic solar cells.

At present, artificial satellites, spacecrafts and space vehicles depend on rocket gas engines that use forced gas at a supersonic speed, or chemical reactions rockets propelled by solid or liquid fuels such as radionuclide or petroleum. Others use electrically propelled probes, which depend on thrusting force via accelerating ions.

The physics student at Sohag University told EGYNews agency she has patented the device with Egyptian Academy of scientific Research and Technology (ASRT).

The invention is related to a hypothetical concept of a jet propulsion called “Differential Sail”, theoretically created by NASA’s retired professor Marc G. Millis -- who led NASA breakthrough propulsion physics project.

Dr. Ahmed Fikry, Mustafa’s supervisor, said the invention would be highly beneficial in several fields and areas of industries once adopted.

The 19-year-old says she aims at testing her invention at major scientific research organisations hence the possibility of applying it in upcoming space missions.

The new invention, analysts say, is expected to make space travels, easier, cheaper and faster in future.
Can't find much about it, more specifically as a concept how fast can it make shit go. One thing is for certain, they have been watching Stargate, with all this zero point energy malarkey. A scientific mix of science that allows quantum physics to be used in space to make things go but which can't be independently verified or reviewed due to a patent application? Sounds legit to me.

Sounds entirely like an unscientific mix of bull and shit to me :) And yes I follow your sarcasm. The entire format and content of that article is basically following a blueprint of some young genius from an country not known for scientific advances creating something entirely groundbreaking and revolutionary promising to completely rework the way we think about something. Also there's a mix of words to describe complex concepts while offering zero evidence.

Ampoliros
August 13 2012, 04:26:17 AM
Any one heard about this (http://www.humanipo.com/blog/437/19-year-old-girl-in-Egypt-invents-a-spacecraft-propulsion-device)

Can't find much about it, more specifically as a concept how fast can it make shit go. One thing is for certain, they have been watching Stargate, with all this zero point energy malarkey.

The NASA program which the article references also discussed warp drive and several other extremely theoretical/highly speculative forms of propulsion. It sounds vaguely plausible but definitely not something you're going to see anytime soon.

anyhow, regarding the whole current discussion here; i would focus on technologies to get us to orbit cheaply, that's the big hurdle. I know the idea of building stuff on the moon or mars sounds cool, but the industrial base to support that would take decades of solid effort to develop offworld. Focus on getting into orbit for extremely cheap, and everything else can fall into place.

I'm not a huge fan of the idea of a space elevator in the near term, as getting into low orbit (500-600km, maybe) is really all you need to get started, and the science still sounds like its decades away. Launch loops (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Launch_loop) seem interesting, but not as well researched. Basically, build >something< on earth to help get into LEO for cheap, from there you can work on asteroid mining and low orbit industry/labs/tourism, along with a lot more probes and other pure science trips to the moon/mars/solar system. v0v

Smuggo
August 13 2012, 08:48:40 AM
Any one heard about this (http://www.humanipo.com/blog/437/19-year-old-girl-in-Egypt-invents-a-spacecraft-propulsion-device)


A 19-year-old Egyptian university student called Aisha Mustafa has invented a propulsion device intended to offer spacecrafts a new method and cheaper means of energy consumption.

The propulsion device promises chances of using quantum physics and chemical reactions in artificial satellites, instead of the current radioactive-based jets and ordinary rocket engines.

Mustafa’s device is based on a scientific mix between quantum physics, space technology, chemical reactions and electrical sciences.

Mustafa said the inventions generates energy for space vehicles from electric energy formed by Casimir-polder force, which occurs between separate surfaces and objects in a vacuum and by the zero-point energy considered as the lowest state of energy.

The device uses reflective panels for additional force which resembles photovoltaic solar cells.

At present, artificial satellites, spacecrafts and space vehicles depend on rocket gas engines that use forced gas at a supersonic speed, or chemical reactions rockets propelled by solid or liquid fuels such as radionuclide or petroleum. Others use electrically propelled probes, which depend on thrusting force via accelerating ions.

The physics student at Sohag University told EGYNews agency she has patented the device with Egyptian Academy of scientific Research and Technology (ASRT).

The invention is related to a hypothetical concept of a jet propulsion called “Differential Sail”, theoretically created by NASA’s retired professor Marc G. Millis -- who led NASA breakthrough propulsion physics project.

Dr. Ahmed Fikry, Mustafa’s supervisor, said the invention would be highly beneficial in several fields and areas of industries once adopted.

The 19-year-old says she aims at testing her invention at major scientific research organisations hence the possibility of applying it in upcoming space missions.

The new invention, analysts say, is expected to make space travels, easier, cheaper and faster in future.
Can't find much about it, more specifically as a concept how fast can it make shit go. One thing is for certain, they have been watching Stargate, with all this zero point energy malarkey. A scientific mix of science that allows quantum physics to be used in space to make things go but which can't be independently verified or reviewed due to a patent application? Sounds legit to me.

Sounds entirely like an unscientific mix of bull and shit to me :) And yes I follow your sarcasm. The entire format and content of that article is basically following a blueprint of some young genius from an country not known for scientific advances creating something entirely groundbreaking and revolutionary promising to completely rework the way we think about something. Also there's a mix of words to describe complex concepts while offering zero evidence.

Obviously it's been written by a derpy journalist, which doesn't help, but seems more like it's something they have put forward as a research proposal for a PhD rather than any kind of actual scientific development. Perhaps they've gotten confused?

Pattern
August 13 2012, 10:28:56 AM
You have millions of impact craters over only 14.6 million square miles of lunar surface vs hundreds of tillions of miles squared worth of near empty space?

The problem is that these impacts have also spread that material over a rather large area. The moon has no atmosphere breaking particles so they can fly quite some distance. It is likely not very economical mining impact sites.
So because 1 asteriod has a better concentration than the entire moon, that makes mining asteriods more profitable?

And that's not how mineral deposits work. Most of a metorites core sinks slightly beneith the surface during/after impact, it's how many earth based mineral deposites were formed. As for mining, dredging the lunar suface and setting up medium to long term operations would clearly have compelling logisitical benefits after all but the easist to reach asteriods have been exploited, especially if we start to need he3 and lots of titainium.

Aramendel
August 13 2012, 11:04:33 AM
So because 1 asteriod has a better concentration than the entire moon, that makes mining asteriods more profitable?

Because they have a better concentration than any given piece of moon matter which is anywhere near the surface.
And because you do not need to launch something you produce from them into space.
And because you have no issues with contamination (moon dust).
And because you have no issues with the moons gravity.


And that's not how mineral deposits work. Most of a metorites core sinks slightly beneith the surface during/after impact, it's how many earth based mineral deposites were formed.

Er... I do not think you understand how mineral deposits form. Meteorites have zero zip zilch nil no effect whatsoever on earth based mineral mineral deposits.


As for mining, dredging the lunar suface and setting up medium to long term operations would clearly have compelling logisitical benefits after all but the easist to reach asteriods have been exploited, especially if we start to need he3 and lots of titainium.

Which logistical benefits? Asteroids would be launched into a wide earth orbit, not exploited locally. This is especially medium to long term the better solution. And for that it doesn't really matter if an asteroid is a NEO object or in the asteroid belt, they take the same energy to transport them to us. The latter only take longer. And said energy is still lower than the one you need to launch stuff from the moon.

Pattern
August 13 2012, 11:30:08 AM
Er... I do not think you understand how mineral deposits form. Meteorites have zero zip zilch nil no effect whatsoever on earth based mineral mineral deposits.


:facepalm:
http://www.bris.ac.uk/news/2011/7885.html

SAI Peregrinus
August 13 2012, 12:11:30 PM
Er... I do not think you understand how mineral deposits form. Meteorites have zero zip zilch nil no effect whatsoever on earth based mineral mineral deposits.


:facepalm:
http://www.bris.ac.uk/news/2011/7885.html

Also the K-Pg boundary layer Iridium.

Aramendel
August 13 2012, 12:43:20 PM
:facepalm:
http://www.bris.ac.uk/news/2011/7885.html

You confuse two things here:

Ancient meteor impacts are the source for the increased gold content in the earths crust, yes.

However those did not form the gold deposits we exploit. The gold from those impacts is spread around pretty uniformly. Their effect is that instead your average rock having a gold content of in parts per million (ppm) of 0,000..01 it has one of around 0,004. But that is still "fuck-all" in terms of "mineral deposit". With Gold you need ppm values 0f 0.5+ for mining becoming economical.

And those deposits are not something silly like 4 billion year old meteorite cores, but were formed by volcanic and surface processes a lot later. See also here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ore_genesis#Gold).


The K-Pg boundary layer Iridium s also a good example here. It is certainly there, but it is no exploitable deposit of it. It is spread too thin over a too wide area.

Pattern
August 13 2012, 01:00:49 PM
:facepalm:
http://www.bris.ac.uk/news/2011/7885.html

You confuse two things here:

Ancient meteor impacts are the source for the increased gold content in the earths crust, yes.

However those did not form the gold deposits we exploit. The gold from those impacts is spread around pretty uniformly. Their effect is that instead your average rock having a gold content of in parts per million (ppm) of 0,000..01 it has one of around 0,004. But that is still "fuck-all" in terms of "mineral deposit". With Gold you need ppm values 0f 0.5+ for mining becoming economical.

And those deposits are not something silly like 4 billion year old meteorite cores, but were formed by volcanic and surface processes a lot later. See also here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ore_genesis#Gold).


The K-Pg boundary layer Iridium s also a good example here. It is certainly there, but it is no exploitable deposit of it. It is spread too thin over a too wide area.

http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/2101/meteor-craters-may-hold-untapped-wealth

Smuggo
August 13 2012, 01:12:47 PM
Pattern, have you ever thought about supporting your arguments with some sort of conjecture whereby you take extracts from the article you've linked and attempt to highlight how they might confirm your line of argument.

Might be a bit more convincing than just posting a link you googled with zero context.

Pattern
August 13 2012, 01:20:19 PM
Pattern, have you ever thought about supporting your arguments with some sort of conjecture whereby you take extracts from the article you've linked and attempt to highlight how they might confirm your line of argument.

Might be a bit more convincing than just posting a link you googled with zero context.
I kinda thought the entire article was relevent and in each time directly contradicts Aramendel's ever shifting goal posts.

But fine, how about this:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48016823/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/greenland-study-turns-oldest-largest-impact-crater/#.UCj-AWNYuq4

Only around 180 impact craters have ever been discovered on Earth, and nearly one-third of them contain significant minerals deposits such as precious metals. A Canadian mining company, North American Nickel, is exploring the region where the potentially newfound crater is, looking for nickel and other mineral deposits, company geologist John Roozendaal said. They are conducting airborne surveys and will soon do more mapping, small-scale sampling and drilling to see if they can find an area that could be economical to mine.

These impacts are of interest to mining companies not because of the large meteorites themselves — they typically vaporize — but because of the effect upon the Earth's surface. The impact heats rocks so much that metals can melt and then collect toward the bottom of the crater. Craters can also be important sources of oil and gas; the crushed, permeable rocks can act like a sponge, absorbing hydrocarbons.

I happy conceed that craters on the moon will have less concentration of minerals than asteriods, but the notion that metorites have had zero influence on mineral deposits is stupid. Further more, our relative lack of understanding of lunar geology probably makes any absolute assetsments of mineral wealth at this time pointless. It's a possiblity, and jumping into absoultes at this time is silly.

Rami
August 13 2012, 01:22:53 PM
Any one heard about this (http://www.humanipo.com/blog/437/19-year-old-girl-in-Egypt-invents-a-spacecraft-propulsion-device)


A 19-year-old Egyptian university student called Aisha Mustafa has invented a propulsion device intended to offer spacecrafts a new method and cheaper means of energy consumption.

The propulsion device promises chances of using quantum physics and chemical reactions in artificial satellites, instead of the current radioactive-based jets and ordinary rocket engines.

Mustafa’s device is based on a scientific mix between quantum physics, space technology, chemical reactions and electrical sciences.

Mustafa said the inventions generates energy for space vehicles from electric energy formed by Casimir-polder force, which occurs between separate surfaces and objects in a vacuum and by the zero-point energy considered as the lowest state of energy.

The device uses reflective panels for additional force which resembles photovoltaic solar cells.

At present, artificial satellites, spacecrafts and space vehicles depend on rocket gas engines that use forced gas at a supersonic speed, or chemical reactions rockets propelled by solid or liquid fuels such as radionuclide or petroleum. Others use electrically propelled probes, which depend on thrusting force via accelerating ions.

The physics student at Sohag University told EGYNews agency she has patented the device with Egyptian Academy of scientific Research and Technology (ASRT).

The invention is related to a hypothetical concept of a jet propulsion called “Differential Sail”, theoretically created by NASA’s retired professor Marc G. Millis -- who led NASA breakthrough propulsion physics project.

Dr. Ahmed Fikry, Mustafa’s supervisor, said the invention would be highly beneficial in several fields and areas of industries once adopted.

The 19-year-old says she aims at testing her invention at major scientific research organisations hence the possibility of applying it in upcoming space missions.

The new invention, analysts say, is expected to make space travels, easier, cheaper and faster in future.
Can't find much about it, more specifically as a concept how fast can it make shit go. One thing is for certain, they have been watching Stargate, with all this zero point energy malarkey. A scientific mix of science that allows quantum physics to be used in space to make things go but which can't be independently verified or reviewed due to a patent application? Sounds legit to me.

The Casimir effect and its relationship to zero point energy is a well known concept. It's kind of sad they used that as a pretext for the hoax, since the casimir effect is extremely small. It might have some applications in nanotech. Ah well.

I think it's inevitable that we exploit the resources available in the solar system as human space exploration grows (unless it ceases of course). The moon is being considered as a stepping stone base as it's proximity to earth and only if water can be viably extracted. The presence of HE3 is so far not a major drive. Rather than mining in the asteroid belts themselves, an asteroid could (as) 'easily' be pushed towards a Lagrange point (if we can establish the required operations there to extract the minerals) or by bringing it into orbit of our planet (though I find this far riskier).

There's much more going for the Lagrange point mining facility as we don't have to continuously monitor and control the orbit of such a large object in proximity to our planet (though some orbital adjustments around the lagrange point would be needed). It'll also be easier to slowly boost it away from the Langrange point.

The bonus is you only need to send the boosting system to the asteroid itself, and travel to the point would most likely take several years, since you have to slow down as well. Once it is at the point, you could mine it whilst the next asteroid is already in transit (depending on travel times). It is not unfeasible in the long term to have smaller robotic tools prospect and boost relevant (small) asteroids towards the mining facility, which could in turn send those materials to Earth/Moon/Mars. The mining station wouldn't be manned either I imagine, as you would put the facility into an orbit of the L-points not protected by our magnetosphere.

Aramendel
August 13 2012, 01:35:47 PM
I kinda thought the entire article was relevent and in each time directly contradicts Aramendel's ever shifting goal posts.

My point is that it isn't really that easy.

The Vredefort crater gold, i.e., does not come from the asteroid itself, but was made accessible by it.

Impact diamonds exists, but there is no commercial exploitation of them. Also, you need (surprise) a carbon rich impact area. Except those are predominately formed by biological and sedimentary processes. Which do not exist on the moon.

In general it isn't the asteroids mass /composition is important, but the energy they release. Which creates impact melts and hydrothermal activity which can create deposits. But for that they need the right impact area. Usually old volcanic intrusions which were brought to the surface by erosion. Which...

Further reading (http://www.univie.ac.at/geochemistry/koeberl/publikation_list/265-Economics%20of%20craters-Impact%20Tectonics-2005.pdf).

I concede that asteroids have no direct influence on deposits (I should have learned by now not to use absolutes), but the thing is that they act as triggers, not as resource seeds. Most conditions where they can trigger deposits are simply not present on the moon.

And I still heavily oppose that "many earth based mineral deposites" were formed by them. They are the exception, not the norm.


the notion that metorites have had zero influence on mineral deposits is stupid. Further more, our relative lack of understanding of lunar geology probably makes any absolute assetsments of mineral wealth at this time pointless. It's a possiblity, and jumping into absoultes at this time is silly.

Nor did I regarding the moon:


It is likely not very economical mining impact sites.

Synapse
August 14 2012, 06:39:38 AM
I'd like to preface this whole discussion with a new wrinkle no one has yet discussed. The single and only, to my knowledge, missing technical item for a Mars (or any deep space) mission is radiation shielding. There are made-up financial concerns but it really wouldn't cost that much compared to bailing out banks or fighting afghans. There are political, moral and social concerns with various permanent base plans but the only unsolved technical item is how to shield against the nasty radiation out there.

Boosting tons of lead into orbit is going to take you forever, and anyway you then have to deal with the secondary products that radiate from the lead when hit with particularly high energy particles (higher than any we see here on Eath) and this secondary radiation can be more dangerous than the original stuff.

Sadly no known induced magnetic field is strong enough to even produce a very small magnetosphere similar in strength to Earth's. Just requires a fantastic amount of energy nowhere near anything we control at the moment.

One interesting proposal is Z shielding which is both lighter and more effective than just a slab of metal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_shielding) however I'd support a more elegant solution:
Simply hollow out an earth/mars crossing asteroid and make that your permanent first or second foothold. Then park your ship inside it for the trip to Mars orbit, and burn out when nearby the red planet. Should reduce greatly the exposure time, but I don't know if it would be down to an acceptable level.

My ranking is based on 3 factors: Proximity, Radiation Shielding, and Energy Availability. As many have said before:
-Asteroid
-Mars
-Venus
-Enceladus




:facepalm:
http://www.bris.ac.uk/news/2011/7885.html

You confuse two things here:

Ancient meteor impacts are the source for the increased gold content in the earths crust, yes.

However those did not form the gold deposits we exploit. The gold from those impacts is spread around pretty uniformly. Their effect is that instead your average rock having a gold content of in parts per million (ppm) of 0,000..01 it has one of around 0,004. But that is still "fuck-all" in terms of "mineral deposit". With Gold you need ppm values 0f 0.5+ for mining becoming economical.

And those deposits are not something silly like 4 billion year old meteorite cores, but were formed by volcanic and surface processes a lot later. See also here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ore_genesis#Gold).


The K-Pg boundary layer Iridium s also a good example here. It is certainly there, but it is no exploitable deposit of it. It is spread too thin over a too wide area.

http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/2101/meteor-craters-may-hold-untapped-wealth

We have science telling us both sides of the same story and will have to work it out.
http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news032.html

That story seems to say that even slowed impacts in atmosphere lose up to 4/5ths of their material over a broad area when the object melts and explodes outward in impact, and the rest becomes something like sand. Furthermore as the impact speed goes up with no atmosphere to slow it, even more of the impactor is lost.

Circumstantially I remember a story about a particular researcher looking for actual impactors he expected to find under major craters and that the story was he couldn't find any.

Warpath
August 14 2012, 06:51:22 AM
^^ As far as radiation shielding goes, one idea I heard they were looking at instead of a lead shield was having a "Room" inside a craft, just big enough to hold the crew. And having this surrounded by water somehow as they reckoned the water would reduce/ stop the radiation?

Synapse
August 14 2012, 06:58:13 AM
^^ As far as radiation shielding goes, one idea I heard they were looking at instead of a lead shield was having a "Room" inside a craft, just big enough to hold the crew. And having this surrounded by water somehow as they reckoned the water would reduce/ stop the radiation?

Water will do, probably. According to my chart you'd need 18 times thicker water than lead though, which means a much bigger bubble of water. But yes water does work and would at least be good for something else. It's a good use of an element you'll need to bring tons of anyway.

I was exctatic to see the curiosity spacecraft data on radiation during the trip. That's the first such measurement ever made and I think unlocks the mathematical side of the discussion we're having now, letting it become a feasable undertaking:
http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/17uuwmx91b37vjpg/original.jpg

Edit: Because I wanted to post it. Habitat construction is going to run into compression/decompression with heating and cooling cycles. I remember the coolest part of the Arizona Biosphere 2 tour is the giant underground "lungs" they built holding 16 ton metal disks to keep the place from breaking when the gasses inside heated or cooled. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Oae0spSUfY I'm not sure how other environments like MIR and the ISS handle it, but they must somehow. Probably small enough spaces and small enough heat differentials to make it negligeable.

FourFiftyFour
August 14 2012, 01:40:13 PM
You could do water and lead. Have an outer shell comprised of water with lead acting as the backstop.

Would that decrease the production of the byproducts mentioned earlier?

Doomed Predator
August 14 2012, 05:04:48 PM
Well, reading this (http://www.nasa.gov/vision/space/travelinginspace/radiation_shielding.html), they say they're planing on using "bricks" of compressed sheets of polyethylene. It's high hydrogen atom count will help disperse and absorb radiation. Using large amounts of water could work but sounds like a waste of space. IMO the best way to shield the crew is have a part of the ship lined with the radiation dispersing material and have it always facing the greatest/most dangerous source of radiation.

Rami
August 14 2012, 09:41:50 PM
Afaik the plans for the moonbase was to have inflatable dome-shaped compartments (for sake of space and weight). The inflatable compartments then have an exterior (1 or 2 meters?) section which forms a layer in which moon regolith is dumped. Apparently moondust is quite dense as well as being annoying so it will make a good cover. The main living compartment would then have an interior chamber surrounded by the water supply which acts as an emergency shelter in times of direct solar wind exposure.

I don't see why a similar system wouldn't be used, using mars regolith (having landed in the area with the appropriate soil composition) and an interior water wall. Water recycling in the moon base was something like 97% or so which is insanely good. I don't think radiation shielding is the *biggest* problem but probably a guaranteed way of gaining water and fuel. Hydroponics can create oxygen and food and will undoubtedly be necessary, but fuel is not really recyclable and water will reduce despite the high recycling rate. Even a water supply of 2000 liters could sustain a 6 person mission for a very long time.

They do know that they have to get everything right and I expect the compartments to be sent by drone prior to humans making the trip. There's no real rescue mission, no real way to immediately get back so it is reasonable safe to assume they will want to ensure everything is viably in place.

So prior to any kind of manned mission to the surface there is:

- Finding a way to land manned capsules safely (even the crane won't work for those kind of required sizes), requires currently non-existent tech
- Find if getting water and making fuel is feasible and sustainable on the surface of Mars, this in itself takes a few additional rover missions
- Find a suitable drop spot and this time they can't land 'within a few dozen square kilometers', you don't want your astronauts landing 25km from the compartments, takes currently non-existant tech and satellites in Mars orbit
- Design, test and approve the habitats and required additional base components, currently non-existent tech and would take years
- Send and deploy foundations, compartments and required tools
- Confirm all foundations, compartments and tools are correctly deployed and operating (probably a few months of testing that)
- Send water ahead of astronauts or produce enough water through automated rovers/drones. Reason is you don't want your astronauts coming there after 4 months or more and their water craft crashes, they'll all be dead :(
- Once all that is covered, sure, let's plan to put some people there
- Then plan for the next 10-20 years

I will be happy to see people on another planet within my lifetime. I think 2030 at the current level of progress and expenditure is a hard thing to reach, if not vastly optimistic. It will require a lot of new tech, testing and willpower by the powers that be to bring that kind of timescale to reality.

Still, I hope they do, hopefully with some private funding, because govs aren't going to cough this kind of thing up by themselves. And I wish countries would work more closely together than trying to race, despite the potential urge a space race would give.

Hel OWeen
August 15 2012, 02:23:04 PM
I will be happy to see people on another planet within my lifetime. I think 2030 at the current level of progress and expenditure is a hard thing to reach, if not vastly optimistic. It will require a lot of new tech, testing and willpower by the powers that be to bring that kind of timescale to reality.

Still, I hope they do, hopefully with some private funding, because govs aren't going to cough this kind of thing up by themselves. And I wish countries would work more closely together than trying to race, despite the potential urge a space race would give.

The funding is the real problem, I'm afraid. As the U.S.A., USSR in the 60s/70s and lately China etc. have shown, if there's a uniform decision & dedication to do this, it is possible. Private funding, OTOH, not sure if I wish that to be involved. Call me cynic, but anywhere private funding these days is involved, things tend to become worse in the med/long run.

Overly utopian idealistic vision: make it a great "We-Are-One-World" project, involving all countries of this world and prove me wrong in my judgement that mankind as a whole is retarded and therefore doomed to fail.

Rami
August 16 2012, 11:05:45 AM
Overly utopian idealistic vision: make it a great "We-Are-One-World" project, involving all countries of this world and prove me wrong in my judgement that mankind as a whole is retarded and therefore doomed to fail.

It's not utopian, but in all major achievements thus far it has required a 'common challenge' approach (most commonly that challenge devolves to a foe). Whilst movies romanticise the event, I find it completely plausible that a clear and present threat, be it economical or otherwise, presents itself to our planet as whole that immense progress could be made. The largest threat would be resource exhaustion of particular elements (such as helium), but that's still a ways off.

It's a real shame, it will be decades if not more before the general consensus is large enough on the necessity of a truly global space program. IIS is a good first step, despite it's flaws and setbacks. I don't see China extending hands to the US any time soon though :(

Lallante
August 16 2012, 12:04:45 PM
The next person on the moon and the first person on any other planet will be Chinese.

Hel OWeen
August 16 2012, 02:38:52 PM
Whilst movies romanticise the event, I find it completely plausible that a clear and present threat, be it economical or otherwise, presents itself to our planet as whole that immense progress could be made.

One would think that with climate change there's already such real threat present, but it seems that even faced with (long-term) extinction, we can't overcome our greed.

Aramendel
August 16 2012, 02:58:22 PM
Not really, so far it is still easier to fix our climate than to basically create a new one from the ground up (nevermind relocating). Climate change would have to become way way waaaaay worse for it to be an incentive to settle mars or something like that.

Doomed Predator
August 16 2012, 06:59:28 PM
I seriously doubt climate change would ever become enough of a threat to force or strongly encourage relocation. Like Aramendel said, Climate control/manipulation is easier than terraforming.


Medium term extinction would be a great incentive though. Short term means we're probably too late and long term would be a too distant threat to cause a total shift to plan on escaping Earth.

Hel OWeen
August 17 2012, 08:04:10 AM
I mentioned climate change as an example that in my opinion the world at large doesn't work together, even when facing a disastrous future. I wasn't suggesting moving to the stars as an alternative to fixing climate change. It just seems that we're meanwhile can't be arsed any longer to work together on something big (and positive) for mankind as a whole.

But this thread isn't about mankind's failure, let's move back to space stations 'n stuff. :)

Pattern
August 17 2012, 08:20:43 AM
Re: humans working together/climate change.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_frog

(Probably a good title for another thread - are we the boiling frog?)

Synapse
August 19 2012, 09:03:55 PM
Rami the issue isn't so much radiation protection post arrival as it is for the trip there.

There are serious numbers of caves spotted on mars which would all make excellently shielded habitats without any landmoving required.
Example - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caves_of_Mars_Project

FourFiftyFour is correct that water and lead could be combined to produce a much more effective shield together rather than a single element.

In my mind a good spaceship design will re-use most other components, so things like fuel and water tanks would be situated around the radiation room, or indeed around the entirity of the crew, along with a small heavy metal shield and a polymer or zshield as well.

Whether you can "point" your radiation shielding is a good question. I'm not certain if you can count on most of it coming at you directly from the sun (but just in case I'd make sure your "sunward" side of the craft holds the rovers and such so that they can all block radiation.

At best though you can only have a single wall of radiation shielding if you dont want to shield everywhere, though. Shielding two walls would destabilize it: Remember the craft for that kind of trip needs to be spin stabilized, so if any perpendicular radiation threats are expected, you'll have to shield everywhere. That depends on the trajectory chosen to reach mars, engine location on the craft, and the number of magnetic and radiation belts to be flown through. If you do a solar slignshot to reduce fuel consumption you'd have to keep your engine side pointed at the sun the whole way across, which would be interesting to see.