Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mars momentum

Is growing.
“It will be done, regardless of U.S. leadership,” Aldrin said of an eventual manned Mars landing. “The real question is: How long does the exceptionalism of the United States last?”
Even Buzz seems confused by American exceptionalism which isn't about performance. It's about an ideology. Consent of the governed. Free people. Not subjects. Not serfs.

This is the missing ingredient in all discussions of mars missions. The people risking their lives to expand the economic sphere of humanity should be free people with resources to pursue their dreams. They can't be the wimps we're producing today in our legalistic can't do society. They must make their claims.

They must build tractors out of dirt.

Another take.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Plain truth

I always expect that from Trent. What about colonizing an asteroid?
If they are to survive and thrive they'll have to be independent and stubborn.
Absolutely true. He explains why.
Mostly, they'd be cut off from resupply - close approaches to Earth of the same asteroid only happen infrequently.
One day we will have colonies on the larger asteroids. Before that, it will be much easier to colonize mars. It has all the resources needed so that independence from earth is possible. I seem to be a bit stubborn on this point myself!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The purpose of debate

Is so the issues are known. Didn't any of our distinguished representatives figure this out? If they did and still went forth, shame on them.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Use a dart board

Crony capitalism: Give away $25 million of taxpayer money to create ten jobs in companies that end up bankrupt (but not before kicking back to the politicians.)

A better policy would be to give a million randomly to any small business with five to ten employees (one time only per business.) Let's get that dart board working for us.

"Asteroid mining doesn’t involve people"

Language is a tricky thing. More accurately, there is a place for people and a place for machines. NASA OTOH, wants to send astronauts to the asteroids which is exactly the wrong approach. As the article points out, mining asteroids has a reason which is not NASA's reason for going. The reason is economic.

[Just had a power outage. Nothing lost.]

We are going to mars because people want to, which is the only justification required (which is also a reason NASA shouldn't be doing it. They, being government, take money indiscriminately from people. Private enterprise only takes from those willing and even eager to give.)
There is no technological or engineering challenge.
Again, understanding requires something more than language. This is a type of shorthand with which visionaries speak. I wish the interview had been longer.

Not enough outrage

Not just about retirement.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Best take on Tesla

I'm a fan of Elon Musk because of SpaceX. He did what he did because he didn't know he couldn't. However, he has a tendency to buy the environmentalist wacko arguments without giving the thought he's given to space.

This guy has it right.

How to demagogue poverty

Make sure you control the definition.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Economic nonsense

I'm told that colonizing mars is economic nonsense. The cost certainly is high. Sent in bulk (dozens at a time) it could be about $50m to $100m per colonist.

Even if this cost comes down, it probably will never come down enough that the colonists could pay for it themselves. This is why I came up with a plan where they travel for free and arrive with resources so they may have liberty.

However, that plan still has the problem in that somebody must initially come up with money that is hard to come by and could be profitably invested in ways that are a lot lower risk. So why not combine my plan with others?

Mars One thinks they can come up with $6b using a reality tv format. I estimate they will probably only come up with a third of that at best; but it turns out, if they combine it with other plans, that's more than enough. So it would be reasonable to assume they could make $20m to 50m annually with a reality show depending on their skill at presenting it. The thing is, they don't need that much skill. Have you seen what people are willing to watch? They just have to avoid being like NASA tv which has perfected the art of being irrelevant. NASA works hard not to have drama. Drama and team challenges are exactly what you need for a hit show.

Bigelow has a plan to offer an alternative to nations wanting to do research on the very limited capacity I.S.S. His plan involves two BA330 forming his Alpha Station. To buy and launch one BA330 into orbit cost about $200m. Each one time investment of $200m would have an annual profit of $234 million for as many modules as market capacity turns out to be. This could turn out to be quite a lot as even small nations would find this valuable research affordable.

Then there are people like Dennis Tito, willing to put perhaps $200m into the Inspiration Mars mission with no expectation of profit. Some of these angel investors might turn to Mars One if it's seen as viable.

So we have this worthless planet (compared to asteroids that are worth trillions. Got it.) Until people actually possess and develop it. What might be a path to getting there?

We start with the Mars One reality show assuming a more realistic $50m (rather than the $600m) annual revenue they expect. Their reality show starts with ten teams of four crew each. They plan to send one crew in ten years to mars. We are going to make some slight modification to their plans.  We start by changing that to 15 teams of four each for a total of 60 rather than 40.

We make a first goal of putting a BA330 in orbit (combined with the upper stage that put them there they have 90% of a ship. Each could take six to mars orbit.) If they are making $50m per year, $200m is within their ability to get financing. This first one will be used as in Bigelow's plan to upgrade their annual income from $50m to $250m. The next year, they put a second BA300 in orbit (they can either finance this one or just pay for it, whichever makes more sense.) Now they can add a new feature to their astronaut training program: real zero g training. Each BA330 can now be host to half of three teams. Each team would have two in orbit and two on the ground. They would rotate teams (limited by the $120m cost so they may only do this as part of a special season finale which they use to build up viewership.) The challenges would include ship activities and telerobotic activities in concert with their team mates on the ground to make habitats from local resources. Those on the ground would have to show proficiency in producing items ISRU from mars regolith simulants.

The other modification is they don't go to mars 4 at a time every two years in a modified Dragon. The first mission sends 12 in two BA330 class ships (this will require four or five years of income to pay for fuel.) Landers will be waiting for them in orbit and with supplies on the surface (each lander will cost 9 months of income to pay for. They will need three.) Two years later they send 48 in two BA700 class ships (they should accumulate the expenses before sending the first mission.) This requires 12 landers or perhaps the MCT will be available. These people may remain reality tv employees, but they are also free people each making their one sq. km. ownership claim. Mars One agrees to the terms of the settlement charter and claims 60,000 sq. km. giving them 30 million half acre plots on mars for resale as part of their reality tv show. Property owners on earth would be eligible for prizes related to the properties they purchase; perhaps including a locally produced rover they could control.

Those sixty first colonists form the first of many 100 (10 x 10) sq. km. townships and elect a mayor and get on with their lives. Subsequent tv seasons form new townships with new groups of 60 trainees.

This doesn't mean everyone is living in spread out isolation. Once it's been show that living on mars is possible and that land can have a resale value, others will be able to make better business plans based on claims according to the terms of the settlement charter to add to the population. As transportation costs come down, more will be able to participate as the business cases start to close. Scientists could then be sent to mars not having to worry about survival that the colony itself provides. If worried about contamination, they're rovers can be sent separately and directly to different parts of the planet.

By emphasizing skills that allow ISRU independence we avoid the suicide mission of the original Mars One plan that is too dependent on life support from earth.

Forming townships allows more property values to appreciate quicker than if there were only one population center. This would also allow local government diversity not dominated by a few.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

How does capturing asteroids change things?

NASA plans to bring an asteroid back to orbit the moon. Which happens to be the plan of two commercial companies, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries. Commercial as in, they plan to profit.

NASA would start the project with $100m. Is this just paperwork? If they actually returned the rock itself, it could be valued at billions.

How does this affect the commercial ventures? Discuss.

Consider this as well, just one asteroid is valued at earth's entire annual income.

Update: Job applicant's: NSFW

Tuesday, April 2, 2013