Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Smaller air launched DreamChaser

To have a crew of three.

Stepping stones redux

Joseph makes an astute observation...
Well... It depends on what you're lacking. If delta-V is limited then stepping stones don't make much sense but if mass is limited, they do.
So which is it?

We can assume he's talking about limited fuel mass because you want the ship mass to be low. The premise is you build fuel stations along your route like an interstate. Eventually that must happen but would actually slow progress to a halt if attempted today.

A refuelable ship in orbit is it's own depot. The place you want a depot is at the destination so you can get back. Anywhere else is a very costly detour. A settlement trip is one way. Tourists come back. A business person could certainly build one in LEO or a Lagrange point but that's a business decision, not required infrastructure. You don't run out of fuel in space, you coast forever which is where the interstate analogy breaks down. You don't need more delta V than you need until you have a new destination... so put one in mars orbit to fill a need.

A refuelable ship has unlimited delta V from the point of departure because tankage in space doesn't require much structure. You don't need islands or stepping stones to get anywhere. Building them before a market develops is how ghost towns happen.

Will depots bring down costs? Of course, but leaving from a Lagrange point requires ship and crew to get there first. That's exactly what business people are for... to see a market and fill it.

Look at it another way... is island hopping going to be THE PLAN or will companies do what they always do... focus on their own specialty? One company will provide transportation. Another company will sell them fuel. Or rather many companies will compete to provide transportation and many companies will compete to sell them fuel. That's the real world. But no company is going to start up without customers. Fuel companies require transportation companies first. Transportation companies need customers and cargo to transport. Build it and they will come is a risky business venture.

Monday, September 29, 2014

US spending on SpaceX

I summarize the summary. SpaceX was founded in 2002.

Duplicate entries removed from list. The last date in any year is the final revised number. However, the latest date may not be the highest number, so I use the higher number to err on the side of caution.

About $11 million before 2012. Billions coming only in the last few years. Update: Read Paul's comment before you quote me on this. The way I looked at the data doesn't jive with other representations.

The bump seems to come in 2010. Before that, Paul's listing adds up to $33.9 million. Which is about a tenth of what was privately funded. $25.7m of that 33.9 came in SpaceX's 7th year by which time they had already built two rockets, multiple engines, and had successfully reached orbit twice.

  None (just to be explicit.)

  12-25-2003... $3.50M

  12-29-2004... $3.00M
  02-12-2004... $354.51K

  None (just to be explicit.)

  05-19-2006... $30.00K

  None (just to be explicit.)

  07-17-2008... $4.00M
  05-06-2008... $4.00M

  None (just to be explicit.)

  03-12-2010... $129.91K

  11-09-2011... $499.79K
  11-09-2011... $282.76K
  11-09-2011... $230.44K
  11-09-2011... $174.56K
  11-09-2011... $24.40K
  11-09-2011... $20.00K
  09-28-2011... $328.38K
  08-31-2011... $198.86K
  07-07-2011... $294.92K
  01-12-2011... $104.46K

  12-19-2012... $16.75M
  12-10-2012... $3.83M
  12-03-2012... $16.45M
  11-07-2012... $14.04M
  10-21-2012... $14.04M
  09-23-2012... $11.93M
  08-29-2012... $9.46M
  07-25-2012... $8.20M
  07-17-2012... $7.69M
  05-16-2012... $1.36M
  04-03-2012... $1.36M
  02-14-2012... $822.56K

  12-23-2013... $36.11M
  11-18-2013... $1.47M
  11-07-2013... $35.14M
  10-17-2013... $35.14M
  10-10-2013... $901.63M
  09-27-2013... $3.10M
  09-25-2013... $901.63M
  09-11-2013... $35.14M
  09-04-2013... $23.54M
  08-27-2013... $957.33M
  08-21-2013... $955.10M
  07-30-2013... $23.27M
  03-13-2013... $170.96M
  03-04-2013... $96.90M
  03-04-2013... $4.53M
  03-04-2013... $50.82K...
  01-03-2013... $1.17M

  09-03-2014... $1.23B
  09-23-2014... $129.30M
  09-25-2014... $61.48M
  09-10-2014... $47.56M
  08-07-2014... $2.07M
  07-23-2014... $47.56M
  07-08-2014... $1.22B
  06-05-2014... $47.56M
  04-10-2014... $7.08M
  03-12-2014... $47.16M
  02-17-2014... $4.50M
  02-12-2014... $982.77M
  02-10-2014... $46.85M
  01-29-2014... $36.30M
  01-06-2014... $982.78M

Plus these...

Why, if you are wondering, did I do this?

Take that Blue O!!!

Too bad Bezos...
Blue Origin [is] without a high degree of knowledge and sophistication about the space industry.
Blue Origin has not yet succeeded in creating a reliable suborbital spacecraft, despite spending over 10 years in development.
Key for SpaceX, Rush said, is the provision of U.S. patent law that says the mere description of an invention in the public sphere is enough to block another would-be inventor from patenting it. In other words, Blue Origin’s patent “treads on technology that existed way before Blue Origin filed for the patent application,” and should therefore be struck down.

Bezos wants to take the ball and go home, but it isn't his ball to take.

Discovery competition

This July article got me thinking...

Elon wanted to send a garden to mars which lead to him starting SpaceX. Mars One is betting on a lander from SpaceX on its mission critical path. They are inviting teams from any university around the world to submit a payload... Which might be a garden. Sorry Elon, you're not a university.

If I could submit a proposal it would be a large variety of packets of seeds that produce edible vegetation along with vitamin pills waiting for any human expedition to come along.

I guarantee this would clarify space property law for any moron that would like to argue about it.

Stunning images

Over at Universe Today.

MOM shows us what the first martian colonists will one day see...

Salma hears this good news...

Hey, you're not listening... Orion is both too big (by mass) and too small (by volume.) Mass and volume of the spacecraft, you pervert!

Bigelow says the BA330 is better, but Sundancer actually beats Orion in both categories. Mass is the most important for cost and launch vehicle selection. But volume is more important for it's actual usage. Sundancer actually beats Orion by so much that it would save billions on any mission BEO and would give astronauts magnitudes better facilities for traveling any long duration trip. It's not even close.

Sundancer gives more than three times the volume per crew at less than half the mass compared to Orion.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I'm no scholar

But Rand is cited by one.

Which is ironic since I've been saying the same thing about space property rights. It's as if people are blind to their own personal cults of personality even if not as blatant as the NDT stuff ...which is why I say ironic. You do not have to be a scholar to understand fundamental principles.

His scholar says you don't need any government blessing and these rights can be self enforcing. Uh... duh! I go further in examining the fundamental moral obligation of it. It seems so obvious to me that it embarrasses me to explain.

People still believe in the divine right of kings even though we are supposed to be beyond that.

Humans are so silly. We need martians to light our path into the solar system. You don't have to agree and I certainly understand those that do not. But that is the type of digression that proves I am no scholar. The thing is...

Once there were people that just wanted to live. They hunted and foraged. Then we crossed over into the agricultural age. Land became property. John Locke would say they mixed their blood and sweat with the land and it became their property. It's much simpler than that but it does agree with this paper in that it was self enforced by the community. It didn't require government blessings, but in time government was forced to give it's blessing. Government has always run to head the parade because they have to in order to maintain the illusion that they are needed for anything other than protecting people from other governments ...and people buy it which is why they still can't release hold on the defunct divine right of governments.

A family or small community can hold property in common but it becomes an evil philosophy that dehumanizes and has killed millions for larger social structures. It is morally abhorrent to deny the wealth of property ownership to individuals. It is in fact denied by government to some degree everywhere on earth by taxes and regulations which should only be handled locally by communities themselves but always with respect for the rights of the property owner.

Am I beating a dead horse? I hope to arrange my thoughts better in a future post.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


The Asteroids act is at least a start at recognizing that property rights benefit humanity. We're a sad lot if we can't figure that out after thousands of years.

The natural rules are pretty simple. First, if nobody owns something you come across you may take possession (claim) it as your own with only one provision, it must be reasonable. This leads to conflict since reasonable is subject of argument including argument by the unreasonable. Further, not making claims is immoral since it denies the wealth that comes from ownership. Tyrants will argue that only a select class may make claims which is utterly false and inherently evil.

Second, if something is owned, others can not take it. Very simple. Too simple for lawyers and politicians (but I'm being redundant.).

Let's hear what others have to say...
the Act purports to create property rights
It can't create that which already exists. That's why natural rights are inalienable. John Locke could have told us that if Jefferson hadn't messed it up. Laws can only make this explicit, not allow or disallow. Well, bad law can disallow natural law but that's like declaring pi equal to three.
the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interest of all countries and shall be the province of mankind
Case in point. The person that wrote this should be whipped within an inch of their life. Let me translate... all these interest should have a say meaning you don't own it ...and pi equals three. To be clear, this violates natural law.
all states shall have free access to all areas of celestial bodies.
Including private property? No, because this formulation denies private property (and therefore is invalid.)
mandates the authorization and continually supervision of non-governmental entities
Ever heard nanny more clearly explained? Shouldn't that be continual?
What this means is that private entities cannot own real property in outer space
It denies natural rights which are superior and inalienable. Both treaties should be laughed out of existence. However keeping governments from making claims that lead to war is still a good idea.
jurisdiction ... include the personnel, component parts, and payload aboard a spacecraft
As long as this does not violate inalienable natural law. I hate that I even have the need to keep drumming this point. This should be common knowledge understood by everybody. Go back and read those first two points.
exclusive safety zones
If you harass someone in the vastness of space, you deserve whatever happens.
A tension exists between the Article IX guarantee of freedom from harmful interference and the Article I guarantee of free access to all areas of celestial bodies.
No kidding. Morons!
nations disagreed
Because the law they wrote has inherent contradictions and violates extremely simple principles in order to propagate irrational platitudes.

Never before...

...has there been such an attack on our constitution.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Architecture revisited

Somehow I missed this comment from Shaun Moss back in July. In this post I will discuss hardware, costs and risk mitigation. My approach is modular and can be scaled up or down. It's not enough to get to mars, we need to give our colonists a chance to survive in style which Jerry Pournelle correctly pointed out in the 70s requires more than survival rates of power and energy. Sending less than a dozen colonists puts them at too much risk (IMHO) of not having essential skills should some die. This also reduces the per colonist cost.

As much as possible we should include existing hardware or modifications of existing hardware. Vaperware on your critical path is not a good thing. Unfortunately, modifications of existing hardware may be more like new hardware rather than just a tweak here and there.

Shaun has a variation of NASA's reference mission. Mine is one way. An ERV is a bonus luxury item that may be included but is not essential. Mars colonization deserves the commitment.

SpaceX has two landers in the works; Dragon 2.x and MCT. MCT could potentially bring costs way down (sending more at a time reduces costs per) but it's too early to plan on using it.

So, working backward, we send enough Dragon v2.x to mars orbit for the crew arriving in orbit to make it to the martian surface. These landers would go on a minimum cost trajectory containing the personal property of two colonists that will ride them to the surface (each gets an allotment of half the lander's 2,500 kg total capacity.) So if a dozen crew go to mars orbit, six landers should be waiting. But we didn't go back far enough, before that happens we send supplies directly to the martian surface by the most economical means. We have existing hardware that could do that but more economical hardware is available once the Dragon v2.x is available (we have to test land them anyway before doing it with humans, this is two birds with one stone.) Each lander costs $150m (to NASA at a bargain basement of a billion each, is that too mean?) to mars (orbit or surface.) Six landers waiting in orbit and another six on the surface totals $1.8 billion. Just one lander on the surface will have enough food for 300 days for the entire crew. One lander will include two tractors (one day assembly for either) for digging trenches to create very large personal mansion and common mall habitats connected by underground shirtsleeve passageways (another reason why less than a dozen crew makes no sense.) The motivation is they own it so why not? Mine is not a marxist world view. The other four supply landers are just because we should. The six landers are positioned to surround the landing ellipses (but if Elon is right about pinpoint helicopter style landing we're just over compensating.)

That leaves getting to mars orbit. We either launch directly or refuel at LEO. Launching directly would be like the MCT option, not here yet. So we launch for mars from LEO but not in battleship galactica.

The ship I propose is launched on the existing Falcon 9, massing less than 13 tons and having a habitat volume of about 180 cubic meters (think Bigelow's Sundancer.) It actually replaces the F9 upper stage. It is a continuously reusable ship that once launched never lands. It does not require more than a little development because it is essential just an F9 upper stage and Sundancer permanently mated (plus fuel bladders for extra delta V and radiation shielding.) No on orbit assembly required (although the bladders may be carried internally to be deployed externally once in orbit.) We configure it with life support for twelve. This provides 15 cubic meters of private (and shared) space for each crew member. It should cost less than $200m dry to orbit. We need one for the first mission and more for subsequent missions (unless MCT does become available in which case we sell them to the used, in space already and ready to be refueled, ship market.) This brings our cost to $2b.

This ship is actually a profit center. Before sending it to mars it will require shakedown cruises around the moon. We rent LEO space to tourists and researchers while making certain it will keep our colonists alive for 500 days. 75% of life support is air and water. 6 kg x 250 days x 12 crew is 18,000 kg. Food (hydrated and freeze dried in palatable proportions) would be 2 kg x 500 days (during free return option) x 12 crew is 12,000 kg. Crew and equipment would be another 3,600 kg. So dry departure mass would be 13k ship + 30k life support + 3.6k crew equal to 46.6k kg. Water for a free return comes from recycling.

To get fuel, crew and supplies to orbit would require about 6 Falcon Heavy launches so total and final cost of our mission is $2.6 billion to get 12 colonists to mars. If our ship is a profit center earning $200m per month (10 or so customers at any given time) that's just over a year to pay for the entire mission. Tell me again... why exactly are we waiting?

Update: $20m profit per customer is too optimistic. $5m profit w/$20m cost is much more reasonable so 4.5 years to pay for the mission (unless we put more ships in orbit. They're cheap.) We don't send you to Russia for six months training either. It's a half hour training film instead. Professional crew will keep you out of trouble on the tour. Over time, the Falcon Heavy could lower the cost per passenger from $20m to $3m meaning a price reduction from $25m to $8m. As costs go down more will take advantage of the opportunity to experience space.

Update 2: One FH should provide fuel for an around the moon tour so... $25m for the basic one month LEO stay. $5m for each additional month. $10m more for the Apollo 8 experience. Visits to the BA330 zero g racquetball court, no extra charge.

Last thought? Another risk mitigation would be to take a four passenger lander with them in case they can't rendezvous with two of the six landers waiting in orbit. They would supply it with the free return supplies.

Stepping stone is earth-centric thinking

Jeff Greason, in a great talk on space settlement that everyone should hear, calls it the island hopping approach but it's the same thing.

Often you do have to take a breather, regroup and marshal your forces before moving on and space does require some of that. The difference is lack of friction. Bodies don't stay in motion on earth as they do in space. Stepping stones in space can make it harder to make progress rather than easier. Not just harder but hinder. When you are absolutely certain about how things should be done, along comes somebody with blitzkrieg to show the fallacy. Jeff knows his history.

Delta V is a big thing in space. Small is better. Stepping stones increase it along with costs, including opportunity cost. My belief is that the opportunity cost to the next century is huge the longer we delay establishing an independent industrial colony on mars and there is really nothing preventing us from doing it now with just private funds (if non-private funds are available it may be foolish not to take advantage.)

If mars were a step too far, that would be an issue, but it's not. There are steps, but we should not add any that are not going to make it cheaper or easier. Many don't while sounding like they may.

There are three ways to get to mars. One step, two steps, or three steps.

MCT is one step approach. Launch direct from earth to the surface of mars.

Two steps would be either going directly to mars orbit then transferring to landers; Or, go from earth orbit directly to the mars surface.

Three steps takes you to earth orbit and refuel, then mars orbit to transfer to landers.

Stepping stones are four or more steps of uncertain duration putting a halt to actually learning how to live on mars. We have wasted enough time and money already. Even Jeff would admit the cost of these islands. Unresolved is the question of if they would save money down the road. I believe there is no question that they will cost us time (especially if I'm correct about opportunity costs.)

Of course, if mars colonization is not an objective, we'd have to revisit this speculation. Island hopping gives me the uncomfortable feeling that it's more about dividing up the pie than accomplishing settlement.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Closed loop life support not required

Is it required to colonize mars? This older article says...
For the International Space Station, the crew and operations resupply requirement is about 10 kg per person per day. The ISS will typically have a crew of four; in 90 days it needs 900 kg per person; 3600 kg for the crew. This is easily within shuttle capabilities, even the capabilities of a crew and cargo vehicle flying on an ELV. There is little motivation to do better.
A Mars proto-settlement of 1,000 people is a lot different. Such a settlement is not feasible with this state of technology. Consider 1000 people, 365 days, at about 10 kg/day. This figures to 3.65 million kg (about 8 million lb) per year. Even at reduced launch cost of $1,000/lb, the delivery cost to Mars is at least $5,000/lb. The annual cost therefore is $40 billion just for life support. No government or consortium of governments will put up with such high cost, and it is out of the question for the private sector. [I propose zero resupply.]
Bioregenerative technology is needed. This technology is also highly applicable to cleaning up our environment here on Earth.
A permanent outpost needs a closed micro-ecology or something close to it. This means full recycling of all life support supplies, including waste and garbage. Periods of "no opportunity" for Mars resupply last almost two years; transit times are six months or more. Not only is the cost infeasible for ISS-level technology, the masses to be transported are outrageous.
I've been using 8 kg per person per day, but let's go with 10 kg. First, that $40 billion is bogus even in their scenario. Nobody today would propose all supplies come from earth. You also have two different scenarios to consider, getting to mars and living on mars.

Getting to mars takes about 250 days or 2,500 kg per person. Not outrageous. It's actually much less since 75% of that is water which we can recycled pretty well. So well, that they may dump most of that water before doing a mars orbit insertion burn. Ok, so let's look at those 1,000 people on mars...

They don't need any life support from earth after an initial bit to get them started. Everything they need other than plant seeds (the perfect low mass space travelers) already exists on mars. So instead of 3.65 million kg they only need enough to get production started. Water production can be started before any colonists even arrive. They aren't going to have 1000 colonists all at once. Perhaps a dozen on the first landing that will prepare for the 3 to 5 dozen arriving two years later. Those will then prepare for the hundreds that follow every 26 months.

So you need freeze dried food for a dozen with emergency backup until local production gets in gear. Say 300 days times 0.62 kg of freeze dried food times 12 colonists. Let's call that 2500 kg (2232) which fits on one $150m lander. We could easily send more if required. $40 billion is a scary number. $150 million, not so much. Let's also not forget the arriving colonists will bring between 2 to 10 weeks of life support with them. Some of that can become emergency reserve.

Even biosphere II was a success when you realize a closed loop is not required.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

No gas caps. No fuel depots.

How useful would your car be if it had no gas cap?

Imagine if they built it with a full tank of fuel, but no way to refill it. Would gas stations exist?

That's the way they build rockets.

Do we want to be a spacefaring species? Build an easily refuelable spaceship.

Make it the upper stage of a Falcon 9. About 13 tons and never intended to land once put in orbit. We can make other sizes for other launch vehicles but a small continuously usable ship with about 180 cubic meters of volume and life support for a dozen (not that it would always carry that many) would have a lot of general use. A refuelable SSTO lander would be sent ahead on a low cost trajectory for any mission requiring this addition. The infrastructure to refuel the lander might take a while to catch up with it but is that any reason not to have it? Would it be a reason not to include a gas cap on your car?

Update: The Falcon is fueled on the ground. How hard would it be to use those same connections to refuel it in zero g?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Just chesting... uh... testing the ability to pull traffic

Need a metronome?

Respond or die

That seems to be the situation with CATALIST.

He explains why triangulation is obsolete and changing American fundamentally is in progress (more so than we suspected.)

This is what happens when you face a hive mind.
...allows the left to do is drive deeper into the pool of extreme left-wing Americans who are otherwise unmotivated to actually vote.
Given that only a minority votes this is important. There are more on the right than on the left even in left wing cities, but they don't vote.

The take away is forget the moderate and fight for real ...or die.

UPDATE: I believe this is related.
7) The administration uses FOIAs as a tip service to uncover what news organizations are pursuing. Requests are now routinely forwarded to political appointees. At the agency that oversees the new health care law, for example, political appointees now handle the FOIA requests.
The hive is everywhere.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A mars vision

Will mars colonists require billions in support while struggling to survive?

Only if we're stupid. It doesn't have to be. We have a severe vision problem these days. Let's fix that. First the vision (which may be refined with your help) then how to get there...

Imagine we have a handful of people on mars. Choose your favorite method for how they got there. It doesn't matter. They will teach us how to survive and extract the basic requirement for life from mars itself. Jerry Pournelle correctly pointed out in the 1970s that the single most important issue for living in style beyond the earth is energy which is abundantly available from nuclear power, including that nuclear power plant we orbit. I like Thorium, which is abundant in the martian regolith (martians will call it dirt, one syllable) but even solar panels are enough because they can produce more panels on mars if we send enough to begin with (manufacturing requires energy beyond life support.) We've already sent nuclear power with our last rover. If we cared enough about the colonists future we could send landers with integral nuclear power (and long extension cords?) but it's not essential.

Here's the first epiphany (two are required... well ok, three.) We don't have to provide costly resupply from earth even though they will need things. We solve two problems with one solution. The higher the cost to send things to mars the better the solution works. It is based on the fact that everything going to mars, no matter what, has a mass surcharge above it's nominal cost.

Over 200,000 people want to live the rest of their lives on mars. Those that mock them display their own elitist ignorance. Mars One, after ten years, wants to send them at a rate of two a year (four every two years) which is a rate that would take 100,000 years to send them all. Not good enough.

Let's send them all. All it takes is sound economics (a basic reality.) This vision will need your criticism and refinements as well. Let's ask Elon Musk (now that he's won a 2.6 billion dollar award from NASA his detractors have more fuel for their infantile claims that he's not running a profitable business.) The success of his company means that Elon is developing the technology to go to mars but his business plan is a little weak. He just wants to sell tickets but will anybody sell their life savings to buy one? How does he get the price down to half a million? Does he have to? How do they each get a million dollar space suit? What will they arrive with on the surface of mars to survive?

My vision is that every colonist gets a free ticket and arrives a millionaire. That should take care of the supply of colonists. It's not funded by any government (except marginally) and in the process we solve the launch vehicle market problem. Can this actually be done? Absolutely and I will include my argument herein why it should be done (see coming third epiphany) and the one essential element that must happen.

The second epiphany is that assets exist (if they can be sold) to pay the ticket for any that want to go. It's not my epiphany. I borrowed it from the Space Settlement Initiative. Their's is not my vision. They require government blessings and new law. Mine doesn't. They require Alaska sized land grants creating a company town problem and conflicting with the Outer Space Treaty (IMHO) even if they think it doesn't because of that pesky government blessings requirement. I say sell it by the square meter from square kilometer sized claims. Claims made by possession after colonists land. Claims that produce legal title once deeds convey title, because of chain of title. Millions of title holders will have political power to go with that very solid historic precedent. We solve the chicken and egg problem with a trust. Money for land goes in. Money for tickets and deeds go out (after being properly claimed.) Mars has over 144 million square kilometers of potential real estate. That's over 14 billion hectares. Over 140 trillion square meters. How much of that would we have to sell (perhaps 10%, so 14 trillion) at what cost (a quarter? a dime?) to buy tickets for colonists? It would not take $1.4 trillion for missions so we have more than enough land. It does require the martian colonists to support and defend strong property rights. Rights that would have made it possible to travel to mars in the first place. Will people buy land on mars? They already do from con men that aren't actually providing them with anything. The colonists themselves will provide the first and most effective line of defense for those property rights. The number of people owning the land will be the second. That land has no value now, but it does have future value which is what they are buying and how it must be marketed. Done right (at some cost) it would work. This is a perfect match with the media approach of Mars One.

Now the third epiphany (and this is the big one.) If you've read a lot of plans for getting to mars they all have one glaring problem. They are not based on individual liberty and free enterprise. They can't even imagine that possibility, yet history teaches it's the only thing that really works for anything above a small group of people. We're losing this argument here on earth but it remains the truth. Sucking on the government teat will only last until the money runs out. Printing more of it doesn't resolve this.

We need to look at some more numbers. My plan is based on roughly $50 million cost per colonist. The money accumulates in the trust (while technology moves forward) until we can pay for a dozen or more to go. If the MCT cost $500 million and sends 100 that's $5 million per. If somehow Musk or anybody gets it lower, so much the better.

How's that every martian a millionaire work? It is essential we insist that every ticket include both a space suit and a mass allotment of probably 1000 kg to the surface. This is the personal property of the colonist and will include only enough essential life support to meet and trade with existing martians who will have an abundance of life support to trade. This means no separate and costly resupply missions and wealth to the arriving colonists. How much wealth? It will depend on how wisely they choose items that hold value but those items will be competing with the cost to buy them directly from earth. Suppose Musk can send 2500 kg to mars for $150 million as he's proposed. That's $60,000 per kg. Let's say the new colonist choose items that only hold a fraction of that value, say $1,000 per kg. That's a million dollars for each arriving colonist right there (assets on the books as it were.) Where does that money come to buy these assets? Some will bring money to mars (because after selling everything or not, they don't have to give it away for a ticket.) Some will earn money on mars in a free trade society (how much will Mars One pay their reality stars? I hear it's a lucrative gig.) Regardless, personal property will have value and workers will be needed, providing jobs for everyone. They can buy property, improve it and sell it for example. Every skill will be marketable. Free enterprise works.

One problem will be not enough ships for all the people that want to go. Isn't that a good problem? What about ships? We don't wait for the MCT. We don't send too large by mass and too small by volume ships like the Orion. We send a six crew ship massing under 13 tons on an F9. Actually, we integrate something like a Sundancer with the upper stage of an F9. No orbital assembly, just refuel it.We send two to mars orbit tethered together for artificial gravity for a mission with a dozen crew (360 m3 divided among 12.) We send six landers ahead to wait in mars orbit. The two ships take 8 months to get there on a free return trajectory. They have hall thrusters as backup and to return empty to earth orbit. The landers take two at a time to the martian surface with all their personal possessions. That's $75 million cost per colonist right there, but expect economy of scale to kick in.

We should send one additional lander straight to the martian surface with parts for two tractors for digging trenches (ten meter wide in my plans, but that's up to them.) The martians aren't going to live in tin cans (that's temporary and emergency backup.) They are going to live in mansions dug into the dirt by heavy equipment (eventually by heavier than these two tractors which may become the property of two colonists by lottery.) Most martians will hardly ever wear their space suits because habitat volume is something they can have of as much as they want. They own it. They would connect them with shirtsleeve underground walk ways. Wouldn't you build yourself a mansion in that situation? Nothing would stop them.

We need to send dozens to get a good start on a martian industrial ecology. A single person could have all the skills for the few dozen machines needed to make all others but they wouldn't have enough hands or time. Sending four to live on mars waiting for others to arrive is also a risky mistake. The first mission should have at least a dozen which makes the cost per person lower as well. Isolating a handful is just a bad idea. What happens if someone with essential skills dies in an accident? We need to give them the best start we can. They are humanities heroes.

There are too many details to include all for now. So have at it. Let the refinement begin.

(Submitted to the Space Review.)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The perfect marriage

I don't think Mars One will get $6 billion from commercials on a reality show. I'm sorry. Looking at the numbers I just don't. But they should get something between one and two billion  (over ten years) because that's in the right ballpark for other such shows.

Yes, landing on mars will be like landing on the moon with even more eyes watching but humans have an amazing capacity to lose interest in the amazing. Then you've got what ever is left.

2500 kg to the surface of mars on SpaceX landers for $150m has been proposed by Elon. That's using an $85m FH launch and a wider $50m Dragon lander. So it certainly seems doable. So $60,000/kg for supplies to the surface of mars.

Any human mission to mars is going to require presupply. Both mine and Mars One's do. Let's marry the two!

Mars One sends the landers they already plan to send plus 4 more with food because we're sending 12 rather than 4 colonists on the first trip costing them a bit more than a billion dollars (which they certainly should be able to raise.) This gives them more crew and talent to perform their reality show making it more interesting and less work per person. We still only land 4 on the first landing but the others are waiting in orbit with two more landers. Those first four will not have to wait another two years for company.

We will pay the cost to transport the colonists and they will provide the tv commercials to promote the colony trust website where martian real estate will be sold.

Sounds like the very definition of synergy to me!

Iron sharpens iron

...so one person sharpens another. - Proverbs 27:17

Chances are, things are not going to be right with the first iteration. Refinement is very often required. Starting with sound principles you can, in time, end up with good results. That's my hope with my mars plan. I want to modify it until it works.

I'm reminded of Joe Pesci's character in 'My Cousin Vinny.'

Lisa (Marisa Tomei): ...So what's your problem?
Vinny: My problem is, I wanted to win my first case without any help from anybody.
Lisa: Well, I guess that plan's moot.
Vinny: Yeah.
Lisa: You know, this could be a sign of things to come. You win all your cases, but with somebody else's help. Right? You win case, after case, - and then afterwards, you have to go up somebody and you have to say- "thank you"! Oh my God, what a fuckin' nightmare!

Anyway, what this is all leading up to is analysis of Rand's walk down memory lane (Rethinking the Vision.)

He writes why we should go into space... The United States should become a spacefaring nation, and the leader of a spacefaring civilization.

I would say instead... Humans with liberty should extend into the universe.

Because I think it's about humanity and not just one political entity and spacefaring means nothing without liberty. Leave human enslavement back on earth where it has its home. You do that with strong property rights. Nobody can take from another without their consent in free trade. The greater good can't be used as a moral justification for theft (even just a tiny bit.) His formulation includes the concept of leadership which mine fails to. Leadership is certainly important. So mine does need refinement somehow but it's where I would start. I'd like to end up with something inspiring.

Absolutely yes to: affordable and massively parallel ... development. ... We need to think in terms of wealth creation

[UPDATE: Absa-fukin-tootly right... it needed more emphasis.]

Absolutely right, and how does wealth happen? With ownership and free trade. That's why my plan starts with every martian a millionaire. Let's not get stuck on why mars. It's just one of all other destinations. Our goal is the entire universe starting with our solar system. Mars is about precedent.

We arrange it so settlers get a free ticket and arrive with enough resources to follow their dreams. Because of the high cost of travel, all their personal property comes with a mass surcharge. It competes with the cost of buying something from earth. This is potential wealth. All the colonists have to do is choose their personal property so that some of it holds its wealth long enough to be valuable as trade goods over time. This means their free travel ticket must include enough mass to do this. I believe just 1000 kg will be enough (having a mass surcharge value of about $1000/kg.) This also negates the need for separate supply missions and that cost.

[UPDATE: Using $150m for 2500 kg would be $60k/kg so $1000/kg is more than reasonable. Who's going to buy it? Anybody whose alternative is to get it from earth. The possessions should be chosen carefully with that in mind. If you're thinking that wealth doesn't exist on mars to buy any of it, you're thinking incorrectly. Over time it certainly will be. You're still a millionaire no matter how much time it might take to sell assets you own. They also will have land that will appreciate over time and faster by their own, on site, actions.]

The wealth of the universe must be distributed among humans and not governments to avoid enslavement. This is a moral imperative. We need to do this right from the start.

The assets exist. Since they have no current value there should be no fight over them (except from those already wanting to keep this wealth from anybody.) We use existing, worthless real estate to pay the ticket for every colonist that wants to go. Thanks to Mars One, we know that at least 200,000 want to go to mars. It's worthless now but has potential future value with that development Rand mentioned. Development is how to create value. It only happens after assets are claimed and start to be traded. It is a moral imperative. It would be a crime against humanity not to make these assets part of human wealth.

You are a dreamer Rand. Am I not as well? Is my dream foolish because it's not your dream? Is my dream a fuckin' nightmare?

This is my challenge to you Rand. Be Iron. Be specific. Sharpen and refine my dream with your criticism. It is my respect and admiration for your intelligence and perception that I ask.

What to criticize first? Let's start with the price tag. I set the price at 25 cents a square meter with an additional $10 for any lot less than 1000 sq. m. The smallest lot is 100 sq. m. for $35. The preferred lot is 2000 sq. m. for $500. Will enough people pay this? Once in peoples hands (only after the land has been claimed and deeds issued) it would of course reach it's own level of value through trade.

My opinion is they will. It doesn't matter if others think it's a bad deal. If my opinion is wrong we change it to what does work. 14 billion hectares is a lot of square meters and a lot of money even at a penny each. The trade off being there is actually too much land for too few buyers (assuming not all the billions of us want to buy.) Which is why we must value it higher to start off.

This isn't a con. That land will become valuable and faster with more colonists sooner. Four every two years is not fast enough. Free travel and a million dollars when you land should create land rush. This beats paying for one of four chances to go at a rate that would take 100 years to accomplish.

That mass surcharge value is real and better the higher the cost to go. We can take advantage of this fact. All it requires is that we insure that each ticket to ride includes a good and reasonable mass allotment. Setting up a trust for buying tickets insures this.

We need to bypass the monolithic government space agency with blitzkrieg. We don't fight for their attention and funds, we ignore them. Blitzkrieg worked in part because it was a new mind set.

Low marginal costs mean that as demand for a service grows, the price can drop rapidly.

What is the marginal cost with my plan? How much does it cost to add one more colonist?

The MCT is in the right direction (it's only one direction among other possibilities) because although it cost more overall it lowers the cost per colonist. But whatever plan we choose, costs go down with more frequent travel of more people.

High marginal costs will forever constrain the level of activity that’s possible.

Which is not the same as high costs and a good thing because cost is liable to remain high no matter what we do. But getting marginal costs down can and should happen. Four colonists every two years is not going to do it. We do not and should not wait hundreds of years to eventually get the clue. That's lost opportunity cost.

The only reliable way to lower marginal costs is to pursue full reusability.

Which requires different vehicles for each leg of the trip. The orbit to orbit general purpose ship should be the easiest and cheapest vehicle. A SSTO martian lander should happen eventually but just landing is the trick today. The F9, FH and Dragon 2 will soon take care of the first leg (to anywhere.) Hopefully SpaceX will get some real competition and that will become just another airline ticket.

The critical requirement of a reusable space system is refuelability.

This is so obvious that not getting it is an intelligence test (political agendas and intelligence not being compatible.) But not hydrogen for now. Methane and LOX. YMMV. Depots yes, but first comes refueling itself. Just being able to refuel a ship greatly expands our options and takes nothing away from the (no brainer) argument for depots.

A person might reasonably object that refueling makes no difference.

I admire your rhetorical jiu jitsu Rand, but we both know it's the reasoning of a dunce.

us[ing] the Moon as a steppingstone to other destinations.

When it's not a distraction that prevents us from getting to other destinations. Economics should decide. Being able to use the moon will take time and expense. Of course the moon will eventually become part of the entire economic sphere. Let all pursue their dreams.

Will it be safe to trust our precious astronauts to private launchers?

Yes. Next question.

...man’s future in space is too important to be left to NASA.

Or any government entity. Period. Full stop.

Once you let that camels nose in the tent you've already lost. It's just a matter of time. That's why strong property rights matter right from the start. Our founders fought over a tea tax. Wouldn't you like to pay just that tea tax now?

NASA should have planned on going to the Moon with the launch vehicles it had and not those it wanted to have.

We can go to mars now with the Falcon Heavy and Red lander. Now, today, because it's a process that takes time. These vehicles will be ready during that time. Mars One already has them on its critical path for a reason. They take existing technology as central to their plan. The lander and LV are not yet operational. They are the closest to being so.

...we need to open up the new space frontier the way the old American frontier was opened.

A thousand times yes. This means resources in the hands of the dreamers. Every martian a millionaire.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lies are not the way forward

Full text of ISIS speech.
My fellow Americans...
I'm going to let that one slide.
...to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.
He has no such intent. If he did, we'd all support him. He will do only as much as politics forces him to do. Look at the mess he is making in Yemen with drone strikes.
my highest priority is the security of the American people
The only reason his nose didn't grow is because as a sociopath he has the ability to believe what he says for the moment he's saying it. The expiration date on this one was the moment after he said it.
we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country
Feckless (lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible) is the only consistency.
...America is safer
No, it is not.
the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa
This dunce has no clue where our greatest threat comes from. Not having that clue, is by itself, a greater threat to our future security.
ISIL is not “Islamic.”
Are they Buddhists? Are they Christian? A frat party?
No religion condones the killing of innocents
Oh crap! My meter just broke. He's actually not lying here because YOU AREN'T INNOCENT to this closet muslim.
[ISIL] has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way
It's precisely because of their warped vision that they are a threat.
these terrorists are unique in their brutality
The religion of peace never cuts off heads or kills others.
...the United States of America is meeting [these threats] with strength and resolve
See feckless above.
...destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy
He will announce them destroyed at some point. "The hydra is dead. We cut off one of it's heads."
we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are
"To the gates of hell."
a core principle of my presidency
Does he know the meaning of principle?
if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven
We'll give you, money, weapons, aid and comfort, but havens you're on your own... unless you think you can get across our incredibly secure borders.
I again call on Congress to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters
Not a lie, but exactly who are these Syrian fighters? Another hydra head perhaps?
we will redouble our efforts to cut off its funding
What is double of zero? Since we fund them, will we double that too? Oh, that was answered in the previous statement.
improve our intelligence
"We are the smartest. So we are going to be double smart. No... triple smart."
counter its warped ideology
"Sounds good. Do you think our stupid voters will buy this?"
stem the flow of foreign fighters
"Trust us. Haven't we proved how good we are?"
We cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands
"When they are, as they already have been, just forget I said this."
This is our strategy
Like he knows the meaning of the word.
This is American leadership at its best
He won a Nobel peace prize, you know. The world is a much safer place with Obama in charge. All this talk of Obama diminishing America in the world is... well never mind what it is.
we stand with people who fight for their own freedom
By giving aid, comfort and more to their enemies.
I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together
"I won, so shut up."
[This strategy of covering our political butts] we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years
If you define success as making things worse. Drone strikes are not a winning strategy.
Next week marks 6 years since our economy suffered its worst setback since the Great Depression.
Who did we elect president six years ago? Hmmmm? Then he digresses into platitudes...
uphold the values that we stand for
Who's this we? Define: American exceptionalism. Say Corpsman.
May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America
Allahu akbar.

9-11-2001 Never forget.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Asteroid convergence

NASA is planning to orbit the moon with an asteroid then mine it. Isn't that what Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries had in mind? What about the Asteroid Act? Which says if you are first to extract a resource from an asteroid, it’s yours. So is NASA in competition with commercial operations?

I guess they always have been but doesn't that go against their charter?


You are getting sleepy...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Will they use it on SpaceX?

Ya know, if they lose the capsule competition!

The same tactics

What do Putin and Obama have in common (see title.)

They agitate while claiming the opposite. Both with the same purpose: to take control.

Walking and space travel...

...both require falling. (You may have to scroll down to green Marvin in comments.)

Now more imagining...

A growing colony is on mars and I, living here on earth, bought some martian property. What do I do with it? I decide to build an entertainment auditorium. It will have a stage (w/ backstage) for live entertainment, a wall for movie projection and seating for about 100. One day perhaps I'll put a historical plaque up indicating this to be the first in Marstown just like the rock slab here in town that says our little movie theatre still uses the same popcorn machine they started with in the 1920s (it's there on the lower left if you look close... the slab, not the popcorn machine...)

They say the first rule of real estate is location (repeat three times for emphasis.) Mine wasn't so good. Nobody would trade me either. So I ended up buying some adjacent to the main street tunnel. There's really no point in putting in a theatre without walk by traffic, is there? I'll just keep my old property for my grand kids (the new property as well, come to think of it.) Tapping into the main tunnel will require permits from the local zoning council but they can be bought easily enough.

I had to hire some construction workers. They're pretty busy, most working for themselves on their own projects, but I'm offering good wages. I found a team with their own tractor and brick compressor. They have plenty of recent experience. Later I'll find some masons to do the interior work.

Construction is pretty straight forward. First you dig a big enough pit. The tractor did that in just a few days including: shaping the floor toward the stage, a trench right up to the main street tunnel (not yet connected, that requires scheduling) a slope for the surface airlock (required by local zoning for emergency egress even though nobody will be wearing suits in the theatre. You just can never get away from people telling you what to do, can ya?) The trick is to get a fixed price contract. Otherwise they will spend forever on an hourly basis.

The iron beams for support columns and iron ceiling plates are standard items (about half or more of the construction on mars uses them.) I've even seen the 'Dirty Jobs: Mars One' video of the family that makes them (the cardboard Mike Rowe was a bit cheesy. I'm wondering where they got the cardboard? Oh, it's a thin iron plate. Yeah, that's more appropriate! Iron Mike!) They extrude the beams right to the martian surface from a shirtsleeve factory and have little telerobotic fork lifts for moving them around their open air warehouse. Delivery within ten kilometers is included in the price of the order. Another good reason for the new property I bought.

The dirt I took out of the pit is more than enough to provide radiation shielding on top of the iron plate ceiling with more than enough columns to support the weight. Now the interior work can be done in a full life supported environment. This will take a few months to do. Nobody will see any of the iron columns with their brick facade.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Mars as an opportunity for the whole human race

Why in most minds is mars not seen as an opportunity for freedom? (...and wealth as well?) Is it just the perceived difficulty in getting there and living there or is it something more? Usually the idea of freedom and new lands go together, but something has changed in society since we landed on the moon.

America elected an incompetent marxist president. Twice! Proposals for martian settlement talk about centrally controlled bases, not independent settlers pursuing their own individual happiness. We have a mindset with regard to space that doesn't understand economics or freedom. People are blind to the possibilities. Settling mars will open those eyes if we choose the path of freedom. It will provide the example that will eventually lead to other stars.

Can free enterprise work on mars?

Ownership is the key to freedom. Since nothing on earth is owned that isn't taken away in part or even entirely by governments; that kind of freedom is not currently possible anywhere on earth but it is possible on mars. Regulations and taxes are an infringement on ownership and should be as minimal as possible. Mars gives us an opportunity for freedom by making property rights absolute. Eminent domain doesn't exist with strong inalienable property rights.

The rule found in Ecclesiastes 8:9 that man dominates man to his injury is diminished if we take away the right of many to take property away from an individual without their freely given consent in free trade. The principle of strong property rights instilled in every martian would provide an experiment in politics never before seen. Most of the ills we see on earth that really can't be fixed could be if we started from scratch on mars with the right philosophy. We can do this if we choose to. Let others choose different and let them compete on mars with the best philosophy winning.

Is mars too difficult for this? Not when you understand the knowledge problem. Central planning has some advantages in limited situations but is the opposite of freedom. Nothing central planning can accomplish denies what individuals can figure out for themselves. Sure the colonists will have to cooperate and support each other to survive and some planning is required but inflexible central planning is not. Freedom is superior in every way.

Hurdles to overcome...
- The individual cost to get to mars.
Elon dreams of people selling everything they own to buy a $500k ticket to mars from him. That's just not realistic today but his dreams are doing wonderful things that will get us to mars soon. The fact is the cost will be higher and we have to find other ways to pay for it (not taxpayers or the colonists themselves.)
- Supplies from earth.
The requirements for life support (power, water and living space, all other essentials, including food, are derived from these) are abundant on mars and do not need supply from earth past initial needs. But martians will want other things from earth with cost being prohibitive. The solution is simple and solves a host of other problems as well.
- Quality of life and other challenges.
Are solved by free individuals and make life worth living. Wimps need not apply.

Overcoming the hurdles...
- Costs -- are paid by those with money. That doesn't justify making taxpayers do it. Especially so, when there is a free enterprise solution. Where's the money? Private investors here on earth. What are they investing in? The future essentially but more tangibly. We set up a trust so they can trade the future value of private property. Mars has more than enough about equal to the dry surface of the earth. With strong property rights the colonists will have to pay for any use of private property providing another source of return for the investors. Colonist would pay a lease to use investor land that would eventually return costs as determined by market rates. The colonists would also have their own properties as well of course.
- Supplies -- come with the colonists as part of their personal provisions. By setting up the right incentives we create a constant influx. Travel costs and spacesuit are free to the colonist. We insist that they have 1000 kg of personal property as part of their ticket to the surface of mars. This property has a mass surcharge value worth millions. So every martian goes for free and arrives a potential millionaire bringing essential and luxury supplies to the colony. Martian industry will have the incentive to make these items locally to get beyond the innate surcharge.
- Quality of life -- colonists will not spend their lives in tin cans or space suits. Would you? With individual freedom they will soon build large shirt sleeve environments to live and work in because they own it. Ownership does that to people. They will learn how to deal with the environmental issues until it becomes second nature. Some may not meet the challenges and die. They will be in the minority. The rest will show us poor earthlings how it's done and give a definitive answer to those that say it can't be.

Wealth for us poor earthlings... as mars is developed we will share in it's growing wealth. How much do you think a whole planet with a growing population and industry will eventually be worth? How much if we never get started?