04 December 2012

Anticipations of a Secret Private Manned Moon Launch

Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die _Tom Delaney, Blues and Jazz Composer.
Internet rumors have been swirling for several weeks of a secret venture backed by private entrepreneurs that would return people to the moon’s surface. It seems that the veil will finally be lifted this week, during a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 6.

“The Golden Spike Company invites you to attend a game-changing announcement about the future of commercial human space travel to the Moon,” reads the announcement for the media briefing. ”Executives from the company will describe the team, the mission architecture, and the business model.”

...The Golden Spike Company is registered in Colorado to planetary scientist and aerospace engineer Alan Stern, who ran NASA’s science directorate from 2007 to 2008. Stern also worked in the private spaceflight sector that year, as an independent research representative for Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. In a 2011 interview he said, “I hope that in 10 to 20 years’ time, we are on the hills of human return to the moon, so that we could then go on with humans to explore the solar system. I think this is our destiny.”

Golden Spike is a reference to the ceremonial spike driven into the rails connecting the U.S. transcontinental railroad in 1869, which helped open up the American West. _Wired
Going to space is expensive, risky, and politically / legally fraught with peril. But if the great private space rush is to ever take place in search of outer space wealth and resources, someone has to go first.

Meanwhile, SpaceX' Elon Musk has dreams of interstellar flight

Curiosity Rover finds methane and more on Mars

The engines of the Skylon spaceplane pass a test, which brings hypersonic flight closer to reality.

In addition, it looks as if a large amount of water ice may have been located on the dark side of Mercury.

Space is the mother lode of riches, in terms of precious metals, base metals, and the important volatiles that will keep people alive in the alien environment of space. Space also represents the "high ground," which gives a military advantage to the nation that first establishes a strong permanent presence outside Earth's gravity well.

Private individuals and groups have essentially no standing before the international legal organisations that determine space law. It will be interesting to see how well the ambitions of Earth's new mega-billionaires -- and would-be trillionaires -- can be constrained by thuggish and corrupt organisations such as the UN and the like.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seriously doubt any near-term efforts in space exploration will result in profits besides satellite communications. The moon may provide a convenient stop-over in our solar system due to the small escape velocity required to leave it, and the amount of potential resources available

at it's poles; particularly the well shaded craters which likely harbor water ice which can be separated into oxygen for respiration and hydrogen for rocket fuel.

Yes, there are heavy metal bodies floating out there for the taking. The problem is, it would be prohibitively expensive to recover the materials in a way where they could be sold to market in a profitable manner. Years ago, I thought of the possibility of sending essentially an empty shell (low mass, low fuel cost) to a heavy metal asteroid, with autonomous mining technology. At some point it would land on the asteroid and mine (admittedly using technology I had yet to comprehend) precious metals until a certain point when it could set off back to earth. The descent stage would require a large aerobrake, but it would probably be able to descend to earth with existing technology. Despite this simple process, all of my calculations pointed towards a profit considerably less than market prices for the metals involved, unless there was a significant increase in the volume capacity of spacecraft, which is unlikely to change any time soon.

I write this not to discourage, but rather so that people understand that space is an entirely inhospitable environment never intended for life to flourish. There are endless resources to exploit, but they require new technologies and (currently) incomprehensible logistics to justify.

Yes, it may be untouched at the moment, but that doesn't mean it's ripe for the taking. Some time in the future, these islands in the sky may be a well sought after resource, but for the moment, Earth is our playing field.

Tuesday, 04 December, 2012  
Blogger Greg said...

I am not 100% sure about asteroids, but Elon Musk will get to Mars. He has the quality that is lacking amongst our political leadership. He has the will to get it done. The only doubt is about his ability, which, on that point, appears to be in the affirmative.

The Delta-V to a Mars landing from Earth is a lot more than the Delta-V to a Near Earth Asteroid.

If Musk can make enough money off his rockets to build his rocket to Mars, what can stop anybody from mining an asteroid which is much closer and easier to get to?

If I can figure out if his reusable rocket ideas are workable, then I really will be 100% sure about mining the asteroids. That's even before considering other ideas.

Wednesday, 05 December, 2012  
Blogger al fin said...

No one said it would be easy.

Meanwhile Planetary Resources, with significant backing, is following a systematic and methodical plan to change what is now uneconomical into something that is doable. They are not alone in doing more than just thinking and commenting about all of this.

There are more approaches to reality than just the tunnel visioned doomer, the unchanging stasist, or the wild-eyed cornucopian futurist visionary. There are also practical and competent people who work creatively and effectively out of the limelight, to bring about change for profit. If not for them, we would still be riding in horse-drawn carriages and burning kerosene or whale oil lamps for light.

Revolutionary change is what happens while most are distracted with more mundane concerns. The 5% / 95% rule remains in effect.

Greg: We should be glad that very few politicians have the will to "get it done" that typifies Elon Musk and many of his cohorts.

Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Kim, etc. all had the will to "get it done." And the people and their descendants are still paying the price.

Much better for politicians to have the will to keep government from choking the life out of the productive and creative segment of society.

Wednesday, 05 December, 2012  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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