Saturday, November 21, 2015

Second release

Getting out of the hospital again this afternoon. I am much too well known here.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The obvious

Stop the bleeding is obvious. More obvious is the 'leaders' of all parties are traitors to this country.

3.5% gets us mars.

Let's kill one myth to start... NASA needs more money. Quoting from the book I may never get published...
"Back in 1973, the total cost of the Apollo program reported to Congress was $25.4 billion."  Annual inflation from 1973 to 2015 was 4.15%.
That's $140 billion in 2015 dollars. 
NASA's budget today is over $18 billion per year which is $180 billion per decade vs. $140 billion for Apollo.
So how much would it cost to establish a colony on mars?

No matter what the plan, it should occur in two phases, the first could start today.

1) Cargo phase. Pick a spot and send 40 tons of presupply there. 10 tons being food. During this phase we are testing our human landers (Dragon version 3) Should take 6 to 10 years at $625m per year (6 or 7 FH per launch window. 2 tons per reaching the surface.)

2) Human phase (only after production rates have been established for water, breathable air, [methane] fuel and electric power and landers have a heritage) we send convoys of Dragon lander (2 crew per lander) with inflatable space at $200m per FH. Those inflatables are stored for landing to become farms and habitats on mars.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Finally got portable oxygen

Otherwise I'm stuck in a 9x9x9 ft room and the bathroom adjacent. The portable tanks aren't very, but two in my Jimmy allows me to get to outside appointments.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hillary's desk

You have to ask the 'is, is' Clinton's the right question. It's not, "did it reach your desk?"

"It's when did you become aware?"

Hillary, knows all about, "What did you know and when did you know it?"

Thursday, October 22, 2015

False choices

There is no ethical dilemma. A driver is expected not to kill. If a self driving car (SDC) kills it should not self drive. A person that kills has liability. Cars do not have.

A driver should override a SDC before danger. A SDC should never be allowed not to have a driver.

The programmer would otherwise be liable.

BTW, being released to outpatient tomorrow. Yea!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


I need another 200 pages for the book I'm writing... I've run out of steam after about 35 pages (I like my ideas simple.) I've got about a decade or more of blog posts I can research for more material... I hope there's not too much redundancy but know the answer to that.

I'm dedicating the book to Rand, but Dr. Thomas Matula will be the unsung hero for all of his comments and challenges over the years. Others as well.

Another 200 pages... that should take about 3 months assuming I find enough topics each day to write about. I wish I'd kept better links.

My brother owes me $300 and came by to borrow more. Not likely. He's facing more potential jail time.

Rumor is I'll be getting out of the hospital soon. This was a sudden development since last word was I'd be here a few more weeks. I'm wondering if recent events brought about this change?

The hospital ignored a health care power of attorney by giving me a drug with human plasma in it. For me this is a serious issue and perhaps a legal issue for them. I don't know how I will proceed.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Trump - Anderson, SC Rally (10-19-15)

Being bullshitted by scientists

Why Don’t We See the Curiosity Rover’s Arm When it Takes a Selfie?

They first give a BS answer before giving the true answer. It's a mosaic and they intentionally remove the arm. When people make mistakes like this, it is amazing how much they will do to defend the indefensible instead of coming clean.

Definition of crazy

Today they will give me another shot of the drug that didn't work last week.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Today's NASA must fight over budgetary scraps.
Wrong. Apollo as of 1973 cost $25b, $140b in 2015 dollars. Today NASA gets $18B annually or $180b per decade vs Apollo $140b.

Somebody that can log in there should correct this stupid comment.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Pig iron on mars

Here's how.

What? You need it to be more explicit? Just pore mars dust (15% iron, found everywhere) into this furnace (wear oxygen mask or space suit.) From muffin tin, break off iron from dross and do it again to purify. Sand (or mars dust compacted) works if you don't have a muffin tin.

During planetary formation all of its iron went to its core. All of the iron in the dust is from later planetary bombardment. You knew this, right?

Before doing this, extract the water first at much lower temperatures. Settling mars is going to be a blast [furnace.]

Monday, October 12, 2015


Normal range is 14 to 20. They want to transfuse at 8. I don't accept blood. I'm at 6.9, so... they gave me a shot in the belly. My bone marrow is making red blood cells and will now make them faster I'm told.

Update: 10/16. For Congenital heart failure (CHF) they give me two different water pills. For my kidneys, at 33% but they have plenty of extra capacity, they give me tons of fluid. My hemoglobin, with iron pills and bone marrow shots, I'm just informed is now 6.3.

I refuse transfusions and dialysis... but they keep asking. I've made certain they know and have copies of my legal representatives should I lose conscientiousness.

But mainly I'm excited about this mars booklet I'm working on!

I'm also on full time oxygen because when not I drop to about 65% (brain gets real fuzzy then.)

Update: 10/18. Just got labs back. Hemogloban now 6.1 from 6.3. Not good. The bone marrow shot they gave me last week does not seem to have kicked in yet. The good new is I finished my 32 page booklet and I'm waiting for word from the publisher. Abiword is crap. Now using LibreOffice.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Latest Trump

Are 200,000 young men a Trojan horse? probably not but "why chance it... I'm sending them back."

Friday, October 9, 2015

Mars suit - a different approach

Read up on space suit design for the red planet and the idea they are going to fall short is always naggingly at the edge of your thoughts. Curiously the Robinson family had the solution all along...
But we need to modify it a bit. The astronaut should sit in a shorter, squatter version with wider tracks. There are no flexible legs, it's a hard shell with a broad canopy. The arms are waldos that reach quite a distance so they can easily pick up anything on the ground around them (or overhead.)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A comment worth repeating

by Kevin Swihart

A civil war has been going on in Syria for more than five years, the Taliban has been enforcing their brutality for years, and Iraq has been a killing field since the current administration pulled our troops out without a forces agreement—so why do we all of a sudden have a refugee crisis now?

Those who are actually paying attention will notice that this is not merely the usual hodgepodge of people who are victims of ethnic or religious persecution. Many are billed as being Christians who fear for their lives—why then is Saudi Arabia committed to building 200 mosques for them? What need does a Christian have for a mosque?

The wealthiest Arab States are refusing to take any of the refugees without the slightest hint of guilt. Why is it that Muslims are ignoring their duty to one another? There is a tent city in Saudi Arabia, fully equipped and air-conditioned which will house three million people. It is used only once a year for two weeks during the Haj rituals. How does this comply with this admonition from the Qur’an: "He is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbour is hungry." (Holy Prophet in Hadith.)

It should be noted that these “refugees” are not the same as most other immigrants. They are not invading Europe to assimilate and find a new life in western culture. They want, and will set up their own communities and observe Sharia Law. With them, they bring their preoccupation with violence—when they are not killing infidels, they are killing each other because of their religious factions. Pedophilia, child bride marriages, whipping and torture of women, rape, and abuse or killing of homosexuals—it’s all part and parcel of Muslim culture.

Muslims average eight children per family. The refugees will most likely gain entrance for their children and families as well once they settle into an EU country. The vast majority of these refugees will have to be supported by their host countries. Muammar Gaddafi, former dictator of Libya predicted thirty years ago that Europe would be conquered by Islam without a war. Within the next twenty-five years this prophecy will have been fulfilled without Islam ever firing a single shot. Once Muslims have the voting majority, they will approve and institute Sharia Law and all Europe will then have the same form of government as the sand piles of the Middle East. Europe as we know it will no longer exist and its buildings, books, and art treasurers will be destroyed because they represent the hated western civilization. As Yogi Berra stated, “It ain’t over till it’s over” —folks, in Europe, for all practical purposes it’s over. All that’s left is to allow the clock to run its course.

Humans are not terribly intelligent creatures —they are just slightly more cerebral than the other animals which populate our planet. The Nazis in Germany annihilated six million educated and productive Jews—and now Europe is welcoming twenty million ignorant, violent Muslims with open arms– only idiots could accomplish that feat.

Americans can see what is going on in Europe—it is not a mystery hidden from view. We view a picture on TV of a Muslim kid washed up on a beach—and we advocate opening our country to an invasion by people who want nothing less than our total conversion or our total extermination. Like the picture of Cecil, the dead lion, one dead child forms public opinion and outrage by a gullible politically correct society.

There is nothing written here that is not understood by European and American leaders. A few people within the political power structure are concerned, while most couldn’t care less. America’s political correctness dictates that people should never tell the truth no matter how horrific the circumstances, which forces us to ignore the insidious takeover of America that is well under way. One-hundred thousand young Muslims will be allowed to come to America and enjoy refugee status. We will support them—some will build bombs or kill Americans—all will obey perverted Sharia Law.

The fundamentalist faction of Christianity are preoccupied with the four blood moons and when the world will end—politicians are concerned with raising money for the next election cycle—Joe Blow is concerned about feeding his kids and paying the mortgage. And all the while the never-ending goal of world supremacy by Islam continues its gradual, unrelenting march.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Inserting P.I.C.C. - third times a charm

Just got back from a 50 miles ambulance ride (100 round trip at $1500 x 2 + 16.5/mile + $3000 for procedure.) I had to get another PICC line which is a surgical procedure for a long term two port I.V. line that is inserted just outside the heart. The first two got pulled out which is a minor emergency all by themselves.

I've been in the hospital for 33 days now and just today realized I could play VGAPlanets (VGA gives a hint to how old this game is) at

One fifth of this hospital stay I will be paying forever and a few days beyond!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Feigned outrage

The headline is Trump failed to correct a person that called the president a muslim.

How is it his responsibility to do that, especially with the special circumstances behind this issue?

Trumps response was 'right' and 'we'll look into this.' Right doesn't always mean agreement. In conversation, right often means get to your point. That's the way I saw his 'right.'

The other point is a much bigger issue and deserves the real outrage. Are there Jihad training centers in America? Trump's response is exactly on point.

Obama has a muslim past which no idiot in the media can deny. Some people look at his words and actions and see a person hiding his loyalties. He says he's a christian. Fine, but the phony outrage at a segment of the population's speculation is because it's not so outrageous.

Obama is a liar. Would he be the first to lie about himself?

Muslims consider Obama a muslim, including world leaders. Why is that?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Holy cow. Did I luck out.

Midnight and I had to get out of bed. I sat in a chair tangling my IV line which pulled out my PICC line. I noticed the blood on my hospital gown sleeve and got the nurse in time.

I've got 3 bugs in my blood requiring 2 different antibiotics for 6 weeks. One bag every 8 hours. Each bag about $10,000 (not sure about the second antibiotic.) I drove to the hospital when my oxygen was about 65%. Not exactly smart but it got the job done. They noticed an elevated white count and the next day I had surgery on my left foot at another hospital 50 miles away. Now I'm back at the original hospital in what they call a swing bed (which indicates a longer term stay AFAIK.)

I don't know what my daily bill will be (20% I am responsible for... should talk to billing about getting preexisting coverage that.)

My good fortune is I live in poverty with medicare. How could a middle class rancher like my friends deal with something like this?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

No CNN debate for me

I've been in the hospital for two weeks now, with four more weeks to go. For my foot is hollow and has a big hole on the bottom of it which lead to sepsis with a superbug and two others. They just announced I'm not contagious which I now have to get the word to my friends which I've been chasing away.

The hospital doesn't have CNN (this is a major Mormon community if that means anything... very conservative. John Wayne had a ranch here and was well known to the locals.)

When they change the bandages on my foot some of the nurses like to see the tendons move when I wiggle my toes. They removed three bones from my foot. I haven't missed them. I have a picture on my phone. When I can I'll post it here.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sowell wrong?

A shoot-from-the-hip, bombastic show-off is the last thing we need or can afford.
It may be the only thing that can save us from the damage that Obama has caused. Trump is teaching the country how to play poker... a very dangerous game for international affairs, but thanks to Obama we live in a very dangerous time where the unthinkable is becoming a reality... nuclear destruction of American cities.

Trumps refusal to swear off a third party run is classic poker. Even if the GOP knows it to be a bluff, they can't call him on it. Using that kind of leverage is good negotiation which Trump will be able to use with other nations to advance American interests.

The worst thing you can do in poker is be predictable and Obama is more predictable than any we've ever seen. We want our enemies to view our next president and worry about how we will react to their actions. Iranian leaders are laughing at us when it should always be day 445 for them.

Would Trump have told Ukraine we'd pick up the defense tab if they gave up nukes? I guarantee not and the Crimea would not be part of Putin's Russia today.

Trump does not talk like a statesman. It's too easy to misinterpret his thoughts, but his main idea is what resonates... American can be what it once was and more if we quit surrendering to the 'progressives' and win negotiations with other countries. Trump will all but end US paying for imprisoning foreign bad guys. The Iran 'deal' is total surrender, no deal at all.

Last poll after the debate put Trump at 36%. Let Trump debate Hillary (the last thing she wants) and he'll get all 50 states (maybe 57?)

Does anyone else offer a real chance to turn around our runaway debt problem? How? No doubt in surprising ways. Eliminate whole departments and sell off federal land being part of it, I'd wager... this being poker after all.

Trump/Fiorina 2016. That would deflate the misogynist attacks.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

My brain is back!

Ok, not quite, but I did learn something dramatic about my health this week. Monday I went to the hospital to find I have heart failure which has been having a cascading effect on me. They sent me home with an oxygen concentrator. Last night I slept with it.

For the first time in years I slept through the night. If you don't think lack of oxygen and sleep is an impairment... try it sometime. When I shut the machine off this morning I was immediately gasping for breath. This means I've become accustomed to not having enough oxygen. This is why I've had no strength. Somehow I've avoided the rising panic that comes with choking (I have panic medication I've never taken, but handy just in case.) This is why the least bit of physical activity has me gasping for breath. I've been telling people for years that I'm oxygen deprived but my mental state didn't allow me to do anything about it.

This has also limited my thinking ability. I'm supposed to be on O2 24/7 and they did send me home with a portable tank but that has limited duration and I want to keep it available for emergencies. What I need is a portable concentrator but that's beyond my finances for now.

With oxygen I may have enough mental focus to look into Xojo and the Xojo Cloud. The showstopper I came upon with Purebasic was the slow speed of SQLite. So slow it's basically unusable. Xojo cloud may solve both deployment and database issues. We shall see.

It sure would be nice to be productive again. Additional income beyond half poverty level might be nice as well. It really sucks to be in this prison when it's only just my life. My friends keep me sane (which should come easier now being able to sleep and breath.)

Sleeping and breathing contributes to sanity... who'da thunk?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Utilizing existing assets to create contingency ISS crew capability.

Utilizing existing assets to create contingency ISS crew capability.

An excellent post by Henry Vanderbilt at the Space Access Society,
and a lively discussion at Rand’s Transterrestrial Musings,
has prompted me to write up something I’ve been toying around with for a long time; could the U.S. achieve manned access to ISS in a short timeframe, if it was required to avoid abandoning ISS if we lost access (for either political or technical reasons) to seats on Soyuz. This post assumes that ISS, a 150 billion investment, is considered worth taking a few risks to save.

First, let’s look at what we (the USA) actually get from Soyuz access. We get, for each Soyuz, a maximum of two seats up and down, because Soyuz must carry at least one Russian crewmember. Therefore, to replace what we get from Soyuz, Dragon needs to carry only two. 

For the sake of this post, I’m going to assume that Dragon 2, CST-100, and Orion, cannot be made flight ready in time enough to matter. That leaves us with Cargo Dragon, a tried and proven unmanned spacecraft. (Another ISS cargo transport, Cygnus, cannot be used because it lacks reentry capability).

So, what would it take to enable Cargo dragon to carry two astronauts? In a truly bare-bones, no-holds-barred concept, you’d place two padded mats and two astronauts  with scuba rebreather rigs in the Dragon while horizontal, then launch as normal. This is survivable, so it’s a baseline to show how close we are (or already there) to true emergency capability. With a few small changes, it can be made far better (safety equivalent to Shuttle) and that, IMHO, is more than good enough for a contingency plan.  

I looked into this in detail over a year ago, and I'll start with the obvious first objection; no LAS (Launch Abort System) on cargo Dragon. However, this isn’t exactly true, as there are survivable abort options for much of the assent profile. Cargo Dragon has Draco (not super dracos as used on the Dragon 2 LAS) thrusters. It thus has the ability to pull away from a non-thrusting stack once past stage separation (due to miniscule aerodynamic loading due to low air density). For an earlier LV loss, as we see on CRX-7, the capsule has a good chance of surviving; had the parachutes on CRX-7 been able to deploy, Dragon would have survived. So, in brief, with a few software changes, Cargo Dragon is far safer from an abort-during-ascent POV than Shuttle was (There were segments of the shuttle ascent profile where multiple engine-outs resulted in a "black zone" trajectory - non survivable for vehicle or crew. Further, pre Challenger, any ditching would have been non survivable, while post challenger it was merely probably unsurvivable, due to the egress pole system). In a case of emergency need, Cargo Dragon's existing capabilities (leveraged with a few software tweaks) are more than good enough IMHO.

Next, control systems; IMHO, a manned spacecraft needs a manual override capability. This would require some software changes to Dragon, plus the inclusion of a laptop computer (plus another for backup), joystick, and Ethernet cable (I think, but am not sure, that the connection port inside Dragon is Ethernet type). This is obviously bare bones, but for an emergency need, that’s good enough. The laptop could also serve as a data screen for the crew.   

Life support; Cargo Dragon has a life support system, sort of; it's enough to support mice, at least, as we saw on CRS-4.  However, to support two astronauts, let's assume it can (as it obviously does) maintain pressure and temperature, but nothing else. What's needed is therefor O2, and O2 can be carried in tanks (commercially available standard O2 tanks would be fine) simply secured inside the Dragon. Either the crew breaths through masks, or a CO2 scrubber in the form of a computer CPU fan plus a lithium hydroxide scrubber canister from a scuba rig would, with active monitoring by the crew, do just fine. Obviously, this system could be improved upon, and probably would be (just one example; computer monitoring of O2 levels coupled with computer control of an O2 release valve) but we’re talking bare bones capability here, where good enough is good enough.  

Communications; Dragon already has a comms system, but no voice comms. The existing data path can be utilized for voice comms via a headset attached to a laptop, or directly to a port in the Dragon. This would require some software changes, but not hardware changes. 

Docking; Cargo Dragon cannot dock, it berths to the CBM, and thus requires crew inside the station for both arrival and departure. This is a problem, sort of. The answer is, for arrival, the crew on ISS handles it like it does now for arriving cargo dragons. Emergency evac is a different issue, and absent some changes would require one crew-member to stay behind and unberth Dragon, then do an EVA to egress the station and enter Dragon. 

Thermal regulation; two astronauts should be within the Dragon’s thermal regulation abilities, as evidenced by Dragon already having flown several refrigeration units (which dump significant heat). The human body at rest puts out about the same heat as a 100 watt bulb, so for two, or for a short term, 4, astronauts, this should be manageable with the existing thermal control systems.  

Crew ingress to Dragon on the pad; this is problematic, because the current pad and TEL have no crew access features. However, all that is really needed is a way to get crew in, plus a couple of techs to button up the hatch. This could be achieved via welding a small platform to the top of the TEL, and using yacht-type bosun seats and pulleys to hoist the crew up (that’s how yachtsmen get up their masts at sea, a feat which is sometimes needful). Or, rent a crane and use a basket. As for emergency egress, ziplines from the TEL would be easy (terminating next to an armored personnel carrier). If the astronauts wore the zipline harness for launch, it’d actually be a faster egress than the shuttle’s basket style zipline. (which also utilized an APC at the bottom end).  

Seating; Dragon would need seats in order to carry crew. It would need two seats, though four would be preferable (in case of emergency station evac needs). Life support that’s good enough to get two people to the station could handle four for the far briefer time needed to get from the station to Earth. Cargo Dragon has the needed deck mount holes for seating, but it would need the seats themselves. It could either use some of the ones we saw in the Dragon 2 unveil, or, if those are unavailable, Apollo style couches of canvas strung between bars (basically a lawn lounger) could be used. If NASA handles it, NASA could have the emergency seating ready in just over a year and probably for less than 300 million. If SpaceX handles it, they can send somebody down to Walmart to buy them for $40 each.

My last line was tongue in cheek. However, it’s also illustrative of my main point; we already have, except for a few easily addressable details, manned emergency capability to ISS. The main barrier isn’t technical, it’s ossified procedures coupled with lack of will. (Which is why NASA’s current plan, if Soyuz becomes unavailable, is cry “abandon ship!” and evacuate ISS – and they can’t even do that without Russian help (a ride down on Soyuz) which they may not have access to if the reason for the access crisis is political.)  

If anyone can see any flaws in any of the above concept, please let me know and I’ll attempt to address them.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Weekend in NM

I had a nice weekend outside of Albuquerque visiting with friends at a 3 day imitate Jesus convention. Even an atheist has to be impressed by the life of Jesus and consequence of his life. The illogic is to apply what stupid things some that call themselves Christians do in the name of the Christian faith to the message in the bible. Unlike Islam, where the 'radicals' are doing exactly what the Koran calls for.

My brother is drinking again. I will have to tell him I will have nothing more to do with him. I will tell him he's getting ready to go back to prison because that's exactly where his drinking is going to take him. You can not imagine how upset I am. For all these months he's been out of jail I've been able to be proud of him, but he's flushing it all down the toilet.

I have no pithy wisdom here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Is it true?

Americans have it within their power to make the federal government an insurable hazard.
I don't know about that because we can't seem to even come to terms with an even more basic truth...
American freedom is being gutted.
It's easy to find people that are oblivious to this truth, even willing to argue otherwise.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The general store

Many mars naysayers claim the colonists on mars will all die when they run out of some critical supply item. First, staying alive is an individual responsibility. Second, the general store and basic economics insures this does not happen.

The general store performs a number of beneficial functions. It buys in bulk and sells items at a markup. This provides a buyer for those that produce stuff. This provides a buffer of items for before they need replacement. It balances supply and demand. Competition establishes the best rates and a further supply buffer.

This is so obvious it shouldn't need a post, but naysayers never seem to acknowledge this... because they don't believe in free enterprise.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dragon landing

Dragon 2 has 8 SuperDracos in pairs each producing 15,000 lbs of thrust and throttleable to 20% (10% effectively since they are paired.)

Lowest throttle would be 12,000 lbs (4 x 3,000) total. Which is about what the Dragon weighs (landing would be more difficult if it weighed less than minimum thrust. If you didn't contact ground at zero velocity and shut down you'd go up again.) Landing legs should compensate for some imperfection.

From the pad abort test we learn that Dragon has 5 seconds of fuel at full throttle which would last longer at lower throttle settings. We assume it was fully fueled.

It went from zero to 100 mph in 1.2 seconds and reached 345 mph.

What is its terminal velocity in one atmosphere? I don't know. Somehow it would have to slow down enough to land on land, probably in less than a minute. I'd like to see that.

On mars it would make a crater, but SpaceX may bypass the wider red lander (Dragon version 3?) for the MCT. I guess we shall see, when we shall see?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The 'Just do it' architecture

This dismal report starts with this paragraph...
Significant strides towards the goal of sending humans to Mars have been made over the last few years, not only through advancements in planning and capabilities, but also in the political realm. However, despite this progress, there is a common misperception that there has been little or no motion forward in humanity's efforts and ability to actually achieve this goal.
Probably because 'can do' people understand that planning, while useful, is what you do before any moving forward actually occurs. Current plans seem more like, 'running in place and getting nowhere' plans. We can do better by identifying a simple truth: all plans fall short. Plus, we can turn the naysayers to our advantage by making them part of the plan.

The 'just do it' plan is based on the simple observation that all plans should have two major phases. 1) Getting enough supplies to a base location. 2) Only send colonists after enough supplies are waiting.

But how much is enough? What should the mix include? This is where naysayer input is valuable. We aren't going to be able to predict perfectly all the things the colonists are going to need. Humbly acknowledging this means sending less than what is required for survival wastes the entire mission. Sending more is only marginally bad and can't be avoided anyway, so why not embrace it?

We already know how to send stuff to mars, but should lower the cost. What lowers cost? Competition. So let's have one using just a small part of NASA's mars budget. The best part is we can implement this plan today instead of 20 years from now and avoid costly, decade long detours as well.

Every 26 month launch window, NASA will pay for one Falcon Heavy launch to mars. On board will be two 5.5 ton landers, each with a ton of cargo. The lander that safely lands first within a target ellipse gets $50m, the second gets $30m. We do this every launch window until sending colonists becomes irresistible to some private company. Let the naysayers come up with the cargoes.

Let the Russians or Chinese get there first and steal our cargo. It doesn't matter because the point is learning how to survive on mars. We just keep sending cargo. If we have to embarrass ourselves to get our act together, that works. It's also magnitudes cheaper than the progress suggested above.

This also allows NASA to save face regarding SLS/Orion. They can continue telling us Orion will put crew on mars, spending billions, while $200m a year goes unnoticed actually doing the mars mission. We've put rovers on mars costing billions while gaining valuable knowledge. It's time to take a fraction of that cost and actually move forward.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Second Mars Affordability and Sustainability Workshop

I intend to comment on this report.

Overview space agency leadership and national policymakers.
So they don't really consider commercial interests. To avoid flags and footprints economic viability is essential.

...[does] not endorse one-way missions to Mars, where the humans on the first mission are settlers.
Otherwise known as F&F. It doesn't have to be either/or. A MAV and ERV can be considered a separate mission.
...forward and backward contamination...
Please... contamination is a given. Get over it.
science exploration of Mars should be a major element
A huge mistake. The purpose of the first to land is to insure the survival of those that follow which then may include scientists. Scientists will get a lot more done if survival is not their focus. Others should ensure this first.
Can be done any where near mars, including from its surface. This is not a required precursor for anything. However, it would be stupid not to include these tools in the mix.
the technical capabilities required for human lunar surface operations are of limited applicability to human Mars exploration.

I. Background, Goals, and Structure
stepping stones
Identify those that really aren't and eliminate them to achieve lowest cost.
science goals enabled by human presence in the vicinity of Mars.
Fine as long as they don't interfere with the primary objective: Learning to survive and thrive on mars. We can move a lot faster than 20 years from now. We could be landing essential precursor colonist supplies today.

SLS/Orion are white elephants that will have nothing to do with mars.

II. Humans-to-Mars Architectures (they consider three.)
  (1) an “Apollo-style” mission (ruled out.)
  (2) an outpost w/ rotating, non-permanent crew.
  (3) colonization or settlement of Mars.
Colonization was not considered viable because they were doing it wrong. They had outpost thinking from the start and could not imagine anything else. The irony is an outpost is hugely more expensive and easier to abandon than just focusing on colonization.
Solar electric propulsion
Not essential, but could enable larger cargo mass to mars orbit. As long as we use existing technology rather than cause delay for something better, why not?
SLS-class heavy lift vehicle is required
Otherwise known as cognitive impairment and puts all other conclusions in question. Of course HL increases options. But SEP reduces the need for HL. The cost of one SLS launch cost about what 20 or more FH launches will. SLS will not fly at the frequency required either (if at all.)
sample return
Is not required. We already know general composition and the sample will not be from the actual crew landing site and wouldn't be representative even if it were.
2 to 3 SLS flights per year
Pure fantasy. Demonstrates not being serious about colonization.
Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM), fully utilizing the ISS, the highest-prioritynear-term “stepping stone” should be a long-duration, crew-tended habitat near the Moon
What are they smoking? Distractions that give more evidence they are not serious. These distractions cost ten years according to the report.

III. Humans in the Vicinity of Mars
All based on outpost thinking. This section can be ignored.

IV. Affordability and Sustainability
All about how to turn this into a jobs program to get political support.

Artemis project

Just for my reference.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

How obtuse am I?

Rand could not have seriously meant that I was ignoring asteroids.

So here I will make the comparison (between a planet like mars vs. asteroids as a mining source) that a comment in a post simply would not do justice to.

Consider your location to be fixed. Where ever you are, there you is. Even so in space (and I'm not being obtuse about orbits, so please.) A mine on mars is a fixed location away from you and can be mined for years. Other minerals, in other mines are also fixed positions relative to you. Even more important economically is you are the master of your own fate. You can individually exploit these resources.

Not so in space. Everything is in motion relative to each other. You live in a can of people, where chances are, you're not the captain. But let's make you the captain because that's an unavoidable fantasy for some. How do you exploit the asteroids? Your choices are... 1) move your can to the asteroid, 2a) move the asteroid to your can, 2b) move some of it to you.

Either option has a delta V cost. No asteroid is going to have the diversity of minerals you need, even if you don't deplete the minerals it does have. So you're back to making that choice again, captain. Your best hope is an ecosystem where other cans of people trade with you... meaning more delta V costs. Which is no where near as economical as hopping into your mars truck and picking up a load from the mine. Planet industry wins.

Well that was a lot shorter than I thought it would have to be?

Other factors? Getting colonist into space is basically the same cost other than landing. But with cans of people, more people means more cans. For planets you can reuse the ships, even landers when they're SSTO, used to transport colonists to a planet. So initially, because reuse takes some development, asteroids win; but soon thereafter planets win again.

The Emdrive may be the game changer.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Sounds foolish, but couldn't be more serious

When I say hereI could do an entire mars settlement program (evergreen) with just one year of SLS/Orion funding using just the FH for launch (13.2 ton is not only enough but preferred to larger vehicles.)

Assuming each year the interest pays for a FH launch with payload. That's two landers every 26 months leaving a habitat in mars orbit for a growing space station.  Assuming just one ton of payload per lander to the surface of mars or two crew with a month of supplies and personal property.

Supplies will continuously be sent until there is absolutely no doubt the colonists have a good start. Only then will colonists follow.

We will wait until we can send a minimum of six colonist on the first mission, then those colonist will decide what we send in the following landers.

It is expected that once living on mars is demonstrated, others will fund colonists in addition to those we send every launch window.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Emdrive looks more promising

It works in vacuum.

We essentially did ARM by doing Dawn

Dawn is a science mission producing fantastic results. ARM is political masturbation. ARM is another example of government dysfunction.

Electric Propulsion is great for long duration missions like Dawn and for station keeping. But chemical propulsion is how we currently get to orbit so the marginal cost to go a bit farther is not much greater (F9 gets 13 ton to earth orbit for $60m. FH gets the same mass to mars orbit for $120m. Add to that the cost of the 13 ton payload... [a craft with a payload of its own] means the cost of a $60m craft to mars orbit is only about 50% more than to LEO.)

Where EP could be very useful is to recover a humans to mars orbit transporter for reuse which also serves as emergency backup thrust.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

needle in yer eye

My first... driving home was interesting. Next week they do my good eye. Will get a driver for that. Then repeat for the next six months.

The good news... my eyes should not get worse and could get better. During testing they gave me a shot in the arm that turned the world into pretty colors... no, actual colors, not a psychedelic experience.

The fog should go away in about 36 hours they say (it did, sooner than that.)

Monday, April 20, 2015


My doctors have told me about liver problems since right before I got hired as an air traffic controller a quarter century ago (I waited too long and didn't make it through the program.) If I'd considered it when Reagan fired the controllers I'd have almost two decades of retirement (and a completely different life) by now.

So my retinas are going bad along with my kidneys and pancreas. But it could be the liver is the key. I'm looking in to it and thanks to CJ (who probably thinks I don't listen simply because it is my nature to tune out any discussion of my health) I am encouraged. So for what it's worth, thanks.

BTW Update: Becoming an ATCS required me to pass a lot of physical and mental test along with an FBI investigation. I would not have because my right eye was just over the line. But I can be a can do person so I reasoned, "physical measurements are all tolerances not Platonic ideals." So I got an optometrist to give me a prescription that allowed me to pass the FAA requirements. The flight surgeon did notice my eye was exactly at the cutoff point but passed me.

BTW Update 2: After a year I found out I was on slow track in my FBI investigation because I was arrested during my work commute for sleeping on a subway (in suit, tie and vest with briefcase.) Slow track meant no job with the FAA. So I went to NY from Phx to stand before a judge who couldn't believe I was trying to get a decade old ticket thrown out, but he did and I got my FBI investigation moved back onto fast track. Since I interviewed 2 days before being disqualified by age (it takes another day to process the interview because I asked) and having about a year overall delay after that, I am pretty confident I am the oldest person to have been accepted.

Then I failed the program by giving an optional clearance saying 8 instead o 7. That's how close I got. All I had to do was not give that clearance... "let 'em wait in orbit around a vortac for the slow traffic passing below." Seven would have put them underneath the traffic and clear to land. I also made one mistake on a map that had to be drawn from memory but that wouldn't have failed me. I would not even have made that mistake if I'd checked my work (I finished the map with plenty of time) and noticed one item that added up to 359 instead of 360. Must have been an experience for me to still remember these details after almost 30 years, eh?

ARM: In response to item #9

Have we ever had so much opposition to a mission?
9. We shouldn’t do anything that isn’t directly on the quickest path to Mars — I probably won’t convince Zubrinites, but it turns out we have this whole Solar System that doesn’t just consist of Earth and Mars. If manned Mars exploration was something we could do quickly, within NASA’s existing budget, or if there were no other interesting or useful destinations along the way, it might be one thing. But even the committee members who are advocating for this have admitted we don’t have the money to do a manned Mars mission in the next 25 years without significant increases in NASA’s funding. While it has been poorly marketed, Flexible Path wasn’t just about “doing asteroids first” or doing them instead of the Moon or Mars. To me the underlying point was that even if Mars is the long-term goal, we should find ways to do interesting exploration along the way to Mars, even if some of those destinations involve slight detours along the way. When you’re talking about a destination over 25 years out, acting like a 3 month delay is somehow insufferable is flat out ridiculous.
Seems a bit of a strawman and somewhat condescending, but I am certain Jonathan didn't mean it to be. He writes a good thoughtful article. Let's start by agreeing that the entire solar system is the goal. I would then argue (to follow) that mars settlement is both the fastest and most efficient way to achieve that. If so, then cumulative delays could be extremely costly.

NASA has an existing mars budget (How much?) which is just part of it's overall $18.4B annual budget. Considering the F9H will put 13 tons into mars orbit for under $200m including the cost of payload that mars budget whatever it is, should be more than enough if not wasted.

Mars settlement is both the fastest and most efficient way to achieve advancement into the entire solar system.

The simple answer to why is two fold...

  1. Any industrial base that can out compete the earth (even just in part) gets us into the solar system both more efficientland faster.
  2. Mars will out compete any other location because it has the resources in one place that does not include a rocket equation surcharge.

The metric in space is delta V and by that metric anywhere in the solar system is easier to reach (less costly) from mars than from earth, including LEO!

Industry requires three main things: labor, energy and materials. Mars already has energy and materials. It just needs labor. Robots should supplement but can not replace people (though some have such fear.)

Automation is a labor capital multiplier, not a replacement. Any plan that doesn't understand the importance of not just industry, but industrialists, will not effectively compete. Those industrialists will come from the settlement itself (immigration or birth doesn't matter.)

Getting labor to mars is the hard part, but not much more so than any other place off earth (orbit being halfway to anywhere.) Once on mars, living there not only doesn't have to be hard, done right it could be preferable to earth with greater personal opportunities. If done right. Human nature (envy and control freaks) continues to work against that.

If you care about the solar system and future of humanity, you would care about establishing industry on mars ASAP for humanities everlasting benefit.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Yes, trivial.

My brother is building his second truck. The first one took a week after he towed the engineless carcass into the yard. Dad now drives it to work. To get the engine and transmission into it he built a hoist out of wood. I used the Jimmy to push the carcass into position for the engine before I left on my trip. That's what can do people do. My brother can put any engine into any vehicle regardless of make, model or type. You add metal where it's needed. He rides to work on a regular bicycle he added a two stroke 80cc engine to.

That's the least of his talents. Now that he doesn't drink, there is no telling how much he will accomplish.

I said living on mars will be trivial compared to getting there. Naysayers point to hazards that are easily overcome by can do people. Martians will almost never work in space suits. There's no reason to. They will not work in a toxic environment. They will not work in a cramped environment. They will work in a lower gravity environment. So my brother wouldn't need my help to get an engine positioned. I have to laugh every time I look at the Mars One housing plan (well, and everybody else's as well.) Mars is a world. That is essentially unlimited space with unlimited building materials actually floating in the air. You can actually use pure iron and not worry about free oxygen rusting it, but paint it anyway. Or use steel. Or gold when they find some. Mars has lots of stuff free for the picking which they'll find by accident before they even start a serious search.

They will have industrial levels of energy that cost them nothing. The cost of energy on earth is due to lawyers, not economic reality.

Hell, life on mars will be much less oppressive than life on earth. This isn't some romantic notion. This is just plain fact. Mars has opportunity that no longer exists on earth. On earth, starting a business used to be trivial but isn't anymore. It used to be easy to find a market niche, but on earth somebody has already filled it.

Naysayers are just absurdly blind. Getting there is the only real problem. Even that will be less difficult (not easy) as some now claim. We just have to do it rather than talk about it.

A martian in a huge non toxic shirtsleeve environment (they have absolutely no reason not to be) may even forget they're on mars as they consider the millions of options regarding what to make or what service to provide others.

Martian dust isn't a hazard. That's wealth they don't have to mine. They just need a good vacuum hose and energy to process it. Knowledge they already have. Design will be both old and new.

Talk about land of opportunity!

Try, try again?

Nope. I'm done. A road trip is simply unaffordable for this poor boy. Gas costs were eating me alive being more than half my expense. The choice: "food or gas?" left me starving. The following may be T.M.I...

The speed limit was 70 on I-15, but for 4 hours it was 2. I pulled over only to be told I had to get back in traffic because emergency services needed the shoulders. Watching my gas gauge going lower I thought "screw that" and pulled over again a bit farther this time. It was cold with a drizzling rain. I got diarrhea and gas. It wasn't a fart, so now I had a shitload. Misery. I had to change, so now I'm bare ass'd (is that where embarrassed comes from?) hoping my Jimmy is blocking the view (not completely) with hundreds of cars inching past me. At first, I couldn't lift my foot to get clean undershorts on, but finally managed. Left pants, shorts and towels full of shit on side of road. Sunshine and time will take care of those. What caused the jam?  Looky-lous. An accident on the other side of the highway!

Went to Los Angeles, got within 50 feet of the ocean but didn't see it for an hour because the traffic was so bad.

From the ocean to W. Covina on I-10 it was more parking lot. Got off highway to find a gas station (by now late at night.) I found one with a curb that popped two tires (purchased 4 weeks earlier) so well there was no bump or sound. Next day clerk told me not only do his customers pop tires regularly but he even lost one himself. I can't stick around to fight the city over this and my road hazard is worthless since I'm not carrying the tires back with me (I use a local tire guy back home.)

When I walk (with a nice stick) my blood pressure often drops. BP to zero, me to floor. Ok, not zero, just unmeasurable. It's happened a number of times so I know the drill. EMT's want me to go to hospital but if I'm conscience they have to get my consent to force another few thousand in hospital bills on me. So they bring in the police to threaten arrest (48 hr of loony bin observation) if I don't 'consent.' I could argue with the police (laws do apply to them as well) but just went for a guarantee (worthless it turned out) that I'd get transportation back to my vehicle from the hospital (which confirmed the new kidney problems I'm having... my local doctor is aware.)

The night before visiting one of my millionaire friends (he once bought me a Toyota Avalon my ex-wife is still driving) I planned to get a motel room to make myself presentable for a meeting. BTW, $35k of car is nothing compared to the millions in additional and permanent annual sales I made him. It's amazing what you can do when you have hundreds of vendors, thousands of sales leads and a guy that takes the initiative to use lat-long/zipcode data to better match them up. That took part of one day out of the year I worked for him. This is known as initiative. I've never had a boss that didn't appreciate it (hard for them not to since it always made lot's of money for them... me, not so much.)

I used to be able to afford an occasional motel room. Forget it today. Even a fleabag I wouldn't touch is too expensive. I have alternatives (I think I've lived everywhere and know lot's of folk but I just can't ask. I did ask my sister and her husband but that didn't turn out well. They forced me to end my road trip. It just wasn't worth the argument.)

I planned to visit my son, but he was working out of town for three weeks, so the timing on that didn't work out. I will call him to arrange another time.

Did not make it to Seattle. Did get my first wheelchair because I was unable to walk around stores to buy supplies. Had to pay for it myself, since the place I was told would accept medicare had "lost their bid" I was told by them. The wheelchair worked and I was able to get supplies (not everyplace I want to shop offers those electric carts which I dislike anyway.)

Now some will say they knew all along my road trip would fail. It did, but that doesn't make those "knew it's" any less moronic. Everything fails until it doesn't.

So perhaps I'm not done?

I did sit down next to (and touched) the rotary rocket. That was a spiritual experience. Much less so the two models under glass.

I'm not the only romantic which brings me to Rand's dismissive statement that mars is just a romantic notion...

Wrong Rand... Mars is real. The chemical elements needed for industry are real, widely disbursed and geologically concentrated, and not picked over for thousands of years, and does not have the rocket equation surcharge a not down a gravity well option has.

Mars industry will make the earth a backwater of the solar system in almost no time after a few thousand colonists are there. Getting them there is the hard part. Living there will be trivial in comparison. Earth will only be able to compete by using nuclear propulsion technology they believe non viable today.

The moon will need to continuously import what mars already has.

If you live long enough to see it, you may end up telling us you're the original romantic.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Snow day

I was planning on cleaning out my Jimmy in preparation for leaving tomorrow, but not while it's snowing. Actually, I'm not in a hurry for anything. It's just that tomorrow is my pay day.

I was hoping to get a loan, but that fell through. So next month it's the dollar menu or less for the entire month... I'm hoping it will not be for two.

I got to move my truck for my brother to get his truck past mine... back later. ... I'm back. That's one thing I'm not going to miss. We've got space to pack 20 cars in the front, but no matter where I park someone will ask me to move my Jimmy. Usually the moment I've found some comfort.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Re: ARM. This is just too funny...

Or sad.

Redirecting an asteroid is not top priority of the Asteroid Redirect Mission? In three days they are suppose to announce option A or B. Option C is much lower cost and less risky: They take a rock from earth to lunar orbit. The problem with that is it removes the smoke and mirrors surrounding the rocket to nowhere... SLS.

As predicted it seems Mars One is going to fall short on funding (See here and here.) They haven't started their reality show yet which is supposed to start this year. The 2018 (aprox. $400m) mission needs to begin now to be ready for launch. This is the least risky mission since it uses a proven lander based on Phoenix. If they don't do this by 2018 they flush away a lot of credibility they may never get back.

This is what Inspiration Mars did by going begging to the government. If they had based their mission on 13 tons lifted by Falcon Heavy with a Dragon return vehicle, they could have done the whole thing for the $200m they already had. What a wasted opportunity! It would have also demonstrated the feasibility of parts of my plan. 2 days to road trip...

Friday, February 20, 2015

Our village idiot in chief

Did President Obama really say, "Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding?"

What a [evil] Moron!

Does he know why Jefferson had a Koran and why it came from England? Does he know why the marines sing about the shores of Tripoli?
"Here in America, Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding. Generations of Muslim immigrants came here and went to work as farmers and merchants and factory workers, helped to lay railroads and build up America.  The first Islamic center in New York City was founded in the 1890s.  America’s first mosque -- this was an interesting fact -- was in North Dakota."
So the late 1800's, when railroads were being built in this country, were our founding years?

We believe in tolerance. Don't reinterpret our history for us with your lies Mr. President.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Altered plan

I was going to go to phoenix first. Spending a few weeks getting laughed out of lawyers offices, but I located a friend from a decade ago working in Seattle that I definitely need to visit as well as others in WA. So I'm going to Sacramento first (I hear they have lawyers there as well) see some family and head up I-5 from there. One more week.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Final 100

Selected by Mars One.

Penny auctions

Imagine they didn't exist and I came up with the idea. You'd laugh at me and perhaps tell me they'd be illegal. Think about how they work. Every bid cost 60 cents to raise the bid one penny. Let's say you won an auction for $20 on an item worth $100, good deal right? Yeah, for the company that got 2000 x 0.60 + 20 or $1220 for a $100 item (and free shipping!!!)

I just saw a commercial for LMT. Last Minute Travel offers advanced purchase rates for last minute purchases. How do they do that? Probably by buying blocks of tickets in advance and reselling them. If so, that's a nutty idea too, but they seem to make it work, since they can afford late night TV commercials?

Each would seem to have failure modes which they usually avoid (a single penny bid that wins, the travel ticket you choose didn't have a bulk purchase) that they would still have to honor.

Well my latest nutty idea is to sell mars by the hectare. Ridiculous, right? The first problem is liquidity (if you think I haven't considered other problems as well including legality, you'd be wrong.). If I set up an exchange starting with a sell order for 10 billion hectares, in a normal bid/ask nobody that buys hectares could sell them until all 10 billion were first sold. So we fix that with a market maker. We buy some of those hectares at a higher unit cost, bypassing the 10b sell order.

That introduces other problems such as gaming the system and fairness. But I have solutions for that as well that include visibility of the issue so nobody is treated unfairly. In part by published execution order rules that work the same for everybody. First order executed is by lowest unit price (excluding $1 for liquidity buys), then lowest unit quantity, then first order timestamp. Along with that is liquidity buys are random throughout the month so nobody can take advantage over anybody else.

So the first timestamped sell 1 unit @ $2 goes first. Each person can only have one order at a time. Double your money guaranteed if your sell order is unchanged long enough. That's better than some lottery ticket that guarantees you nothing.

Obviously, if only one person used the system they'd get all the liquidity buy profits, but competition would be the norm so those profits would be fairly distributed among everyone that participated. Over time those liquidity purchases would grow as more people participated and I would no longer need to prime the pump at my own personal loss.

Taking a personal loss is a crazy idea, right? Hey, if I could avoid it and still make this work I would. It's not the only personal cost either... not even close to the biggest. But my goal is to make colonization possible even at a significant personal cost. I would not go forward with this if my lawyer had said it can't work. Now all I have to do is get a lawyer to work for me on the details.

Some may be thinking the SEC would get involved and shut me down, but think about this... they don't shut down game sites that sell virtual coins and this isn't really any different (except the players of this game actually profit.)

So laugh all you like... then wonder why you didn't do this? Seven more days and counting...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Growth of the trust

Ok, suppose I've set up the Mars Colony Trust I've described. How might it go? Think of kickstarter but not requiring a funding goal...

10 billion hectares are for sale at $1 each. One person opens an account for $10 and purchases 10 hectares. They add a $2 sell order for 10 hectares. Evergreen account report...
Trust amount: $10. Members: 1. Payout: Zero
Sell 9,999,999,990 @ $1.
Sell 10 @ $2.

I buy those 10 hectares and issue a check...
Trust amount: $10. Members: 2. Payout: $20.
Sell 9,999,999,990 @ $1.

The person gets the check and cashes it. "Holy crap, is this for real? I just doubled my money?" but being cautious they only buy another 10 hectares but also get a bit greedy...
Trust amount: $20. Members: 2. Payout: $20.
Sell 9,999,999,980 @ $1.
Sell 10 @ $3.

I'm not buying at $3 because I know: Sell 1 @ $1,000,000 comes next, so the order sits for a while until they change it to $2 and I buy and issue a check...
Trust amount: $20. Members: 2. Payout: $40.
Sell 9,999,999,980 @ $1.

When they cash that next check they think they've got it figured so they buy 100 hectares adding another sell order...
Trust amount: $120. Members: 2. Payout: $40.
Sell 9,999,999,880 @ $1.
Sell 100 @ $2.

I've only got $60 left in my monthly budget and issue the check...
Trust amount: $120. Members: 2. Payout: $100.
Sell 9,999,999,880 @ $1.
Sell 70 @ $2.

Now they're mad. They invested $120 and only got $100 back. They don't even notice these are no fee transactions as they would be with any online stock broker. Now a new month comes...
Trust amount: $120. Members: 2. Payout: $200.
Sell 9,999,999,880 @ $1.
Sell 20 @ $2.

The trust hasn't earned any interest because $1000 increments will be invested at a time and even if we'd have had that an investment month had not yet passed. Meanwhile two more people stick their toes in the water...
Trust amount: $140. Members: 4. Payout: $200.
Sell 9,999,999,860 @ $1.
Sell 20 @ $2.
2 x Sell 10 @ $2.

Now the end of the month is a bit away but I'm acting like a market maker to provide liquidity at this early stage of the game (until interest earnings can take the pressure off me) so I decide to go ahead and buy those orders...
Trust amount: $140. Members: 4. Payout: $280.
Sell 9,999,999,860 @ $1.

Since I bought all hectares the issue of order execution order didn't come up. Normally, first timestamp goes first, but in the early stages it's too easy to game the system. Sell huge amount @ $2 with the earliest timestamp means nobody else can play until all of huge amount is sold. Giving priority to smaller trades solves that.

What kind of monthly interest will $1000 @ 5% annual produce? Should I invest $1000 in the trust before opening it to the public? $25,000 would be better, but I can't swing that. Basically I'm giving away free money, my own, until enough money is in the trust.

5% / 12 isn't right, but just for giggles that would be $4 per $1,000 per month (2 extra hectares bought from what I'd be budgeting.) Hmm... that would mean $50k @ 5% for 100 hectares per month at $2? How long would that take? Depends on the assumption. If only one person spent $50 a month to get my $100 it would take 84 years. If more compete for my $100 it would take less. Much less if presented right. The fact is everyone would doubled their money until the trust is fully funded and then a normal market takes over. $2 a hectare seems cheap.

Definitely got to talk with the lawyers about this. Roadtrip in 9 days. First stop Phoenix.

Update: Gaming the system.

Suppose they understand that smaller orders execute first so they try repeating a Sell 1 @ $2 until they get all my money for that month? Not going to work. Each person will only get one order at a time and changing an order changes the timestamp. But also I can wait until others put in the same order. Then all will go in timestamp order and I wait again for multiple orders. They can game, but I do not have to go along with it.

Revised funding section

See the revision here.

This was the old version...
No bucks, no Buck Rogers.

We've already identified our goal, $10 billion. Some billionaires have already indicated a willingness to contribute as much as a billion themselves with nothing back but the knowledge that they've made colonization possible, but we can do better than that. We sell mars!

Mars has 144 million square kilometers of potential real estate. That's 14.4 billion hectares, so 10 billion hectares at $1 each would do it. We set up a trust that anyone can contribute to. The colonist will buy land from the trust for their use on mars by the square meter. A hectare has 10,000 sq. meters. So just 10 cents a sq. meter would be $999 profit per hectare to the trust contributors. We choose the lucky winner by lottery. The more hectares you buy, the better your chances. Unlike a normal lottery every hectare is an eventual winner.

The more colonists that migrate the more the land will appreciate. Once living on mars is demonstrated and every colonist arrives a millionaire the pace should pick up. Land is limited so everyone (or their heirs) is guaranteed to eventually make a profit.

Furthermore, unspent interest each year could also purchase hectares at $1000 each (about $20k is all that is required to prime the pump for an annual winner. $240k gives us monthly winners.) So assume we've accumulated a million dollars earning 5% or $50,000 annually. That would trigger 50 lottery winners. The property would remain in the trust (not specific to any location) and would not participate in the lottery. It could be sold to speculators after all $1 hectares are sold.

Once the $10b is fully funded, we allow speculators on earth to buy land from the trust at a penny a square meter with a lottery determining who gets the $100 (Or we just set up a bid/ask market place.)

Update: Checking the Red Lander wikipedia page I had to revise the lander specs because it was 1,500 kg heavier with 1,500 kg less payload than I was using.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Risk Mitigation

My mission tab post is too long so I'm going to link it to this post.

The intent here is to identify all potential risks with solutions.

In transit risks...

  • Radiation: The docking chambers will be lined with consumables (food and water) waste (solid and liquid) and the best light mass radiation shielding we come up with.
  • Gravity: They will survive 8 months and recover once on mars. They will exercise enroute.
  • Linking: If they don't for any reason, they still have no delay local communications and can reach mars safely.
  • Landing: A standard lander, tested before any humans use them and limited to just two crew per landing spreads the risk.

Martian colony risks...

  1. Failure of resupply.
    1. Do not depend on it. Life support is essential so the colonists musts be able to provide this for themselves.
    2. Non essential items are just that. No sense obsessing. They will build up capabilities in time. As long as they have the power to create more power they should be fine.
  2. Radiation.
    1. Awareness is the primary mitigation.
  3. Gravity.
    1. Don't create bogymen. We go, we find out, we fix.
  4. Dust.
    1. Wash.
  5. Dust storms.
    1. Do not rely on solar panels.
    2. Over abundance of energy sources and storage.
    3. Methane engine power generators.
    4. Nuclear.
  6. Environmental controls failures.
    1. Do not put eggs in one basket.
    2. Each habitat designed to fail gracefully with time to fix.
  7. Toxic soil.
    1. Wash.
    2. Stay predominantly in shirtsleeve environment.
    3. Many large malls and mansions.
  8. Too much/too little X.
    1. Adjust X. Humans do that where robots can't. This is the problem with simulations.
  9. We need...
    1. This is called opportunity in a free enterprise society.
  10. Your turn...
    1. It's important to identify as many risks as we can before we go. I will add them here as I come across them.

To be continued...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

It's not a closed system.

Thinking it is, is a big part of the problem.

They are going to miss important things no matter how much they plan, so oversupply (especially solar panels.)

How many martians does it take to change a lightbulb? Sorry, they didn't plan for that!

How many martians does it take to heat a habitat? Uh, well, ya see, we ran out of those old kind of light bulbs and don't know how to make more.

Update: Seriously, the MIT report makes me more positive about Mars One...

Issue 1 - insufficient plant production capacity.
Solution - Include: UV plastic so they can greatly expand crop area, live soil (and correct bacteria) to mix with mars soil, 26 months of emergency backup food (25 yr storage.) 8FH provides emergency food for a dozen giving them about a decade to get the food production rate to levels where the issue disappears.

Issue 2 - Crops share volume with crew using existing ISS
Solution - Don't do that. Include soil bacteria to consume excess oxygen.

Issue 3 -  Spares requirement will grow over time.
Solution - No spares. All systems repairable or replaceable using only local resources. 3D printing is not an issue because they will not be doing it in space.

Other issues - FH with lander will not be $300m each. More like under $200m ea.

Mars One overestimates FH launch requirements. They do not require 10 FH for every 4 crew they send. 3 launches are enough with 1 being extra cargo (they could actually get by with just 2.)

That gives them an annual cost of just $200m to $300m after first crew. Not billions as claimed.

Update: FH puts 13,200 kg in mars orbit. Equal to 5,000 kg Dragon v2, 4,000 kg of consumables w/o recycling for 2 crew during transit and 2,000 kg of personal items to land with. 2,000 kg of inflatable volume during trip. Scaleable x 2s to any number they can afford each launch window including spares. During transit they have each other to talk with and no time delays.

Update:  "A very thorough analysis"

I have to take exception to 'thorough.' While the MIT report is commendable and certainly extensive; Thorough implies much more. It's to be hoped that the post report analysis is what is thorough. Being critical of the report should take nothing away from the work that was put into it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Obama's dream plane

It can't fight. We can't blame him for it, but it's the perfect weapon for loving your enemies.

Having 3 seconds of ammo isn't a problem since it's too fat to dogfight anyway. So why worry that it's being shipped unable to fire at all? No sidewinders needed either... did we mention it can't dogfight.

Since it can only fire over the horizon missiles... put those missiles on cheap drones and be done.

Girls killing ISIS

They're winning.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The wrong way to get to mars

75% would double NASA's budget to get us to mars.

While it's good to see the public support, it would be a huge mistake. Their budget is just a tiny part of the overall budget, but they have the ability to waste it on a scale no private company could tolerate. A much better use of the money would be X prizes, which many others have pointed out. That guarantees the money only gets spent with an actual accomplishment and at a cost determined by proper business profit and cost incentives.
Poll respondents said they believe money or political barriers, not motivational or technological shortfalls, will be the biggest barrier to a future Mars mission.
The public gets this exactly right, suggesting that if presented properly, private investment could get the job done.
People like to get things done...
As opposed to the way government goes about it. They don't mind if it takes the time it must. They just get fed up with the wasted time. What could we really do with just one year of NASA's current undoubled ($18B) budget?

Launch system development: $ZERO. SpaceX will have the Falcon Heavy flying this year at zero cost to the taxpayers (NASA will spend $40b on the SLS.) FH will put 13 tons in mars orbit.

Although SpaceX is working on a BFR that will send more for less, again on their own dime, 13 ton is all that is required (costing less than $125m per launch to deliver 2500 kg to the surface of mars.)

125m into 18b is 144 launches.


Any morons out there think we could NOT put a settlement on mars with that?

One FH every 26 months fully supplies 3 mars colonists. The interest on $18b would fully supply a small colony indefinitely and that's if they can't grow any food on mars. In all the  solar system, mars is the second best farming location there is, after earth!

Did you do the math? Assume a billion per year interest on $18b... that's 16 FH launches fully supporting 4 dozen colonists forever.

4 dozen just happens to be how many you need for a full industrial ecology capable of producing anything the earth can design (not as fast at first, but potentially just as diverse.) This is the bootstrap for humanities second great industrial world. This is much more exciting than any exoplanet discovery which is many orders of magnitude more difficult to exploit.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Habitat psychology and construction

This PDF points out the alarming psychological affects on people confined to Isolated and Confined Environments (ICE) such as Mars One proposes and goes on to say,
"The natural desire, typical to most of people, is to stay in a larger environment and to contact with more [than a] few human beings."
Exactly right. I suggest a first crew of twelve instead of four (arriving in stages on 3 to 6 prepositioned landers from a ship in mars orbit.) Also, ownership has a huge positive psychologically effect and allows people to build huge malls and mansions for their mental health.

The landers, which are not built on mars, should only be considered temporary emergency shelters. Mars colonists, immediately after taking care of primary survival needs (local power and water) should make ISRU habitat construction a first priority. Building these insures they can repair them, making life support independent of resupply.

Habitat construction can be considered to have 3 overlapping phases... 1) telerobotic 2) suited 3) unsuited.

Telerobotic construction can begin before or after the first lander arrives from within a closed environment vehicle without a cumbersome spacesuit. It's duration is medium length. It involves preparation before a sealed environment is fully accomplished. The primary action may be trenching. Secondary would be covering the trench possibly over an inflated structure. This 'balloon' may come from earth for practicality of early construction but the goal is to only use local resources. Compressed bricks and loose dirt being the most likely construction materials (combined into vaulted ceilings?) Later, welded sheet iron may become popular.

Suited construction should be of limited short length to transition from phase 1 to 3. The primary objective is turning an unsealed habitat into a large sealed shirtsleeve work space. Plastic airlocks (brought from earth) may be used in early construction. Highway 1 is a sealed tunnel all personal habitats may connect to.

Phase 3 is long duration or more. Once it's safe to work on the interior without a spacesuit, that's what they'll do. Interior walls and floors would be added according to an owner's design preferences. A real toilet, bath and bed will probably be priorities, but getting sealed, privately owned spaces for all, should be a group effort all sign on to. This provides both redundancy and privacy.

Mission planning should have enough food prepositioned on mars before anyone landed so that gardening can be an individual pursuit done in leisure. UV protected plastic (thick enough to hold 10 psi) and live soil should be brought from earth as a starter kit. Enough so each colonist can discover their own green thumb. Seeds need not be restricted to dietary plants.

Mars colonists will endure hardships. People can. But they shouldn't have to endure stupidity imposed upon them. They will be bootstrapping an entire world. How valuable will that world be to mankind when millions live there? How short sighted would it be not to give them liberty right from the start?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


It's supposed to insure a court appearance. I drive the 26 miles to St.Johns (not having slept the night before) where they are holding my brother and arrive before 7 am. They want $1500 to let my brother out. I only have $150. They want $1500. I was told they only needed 10%? That's with a bail bond. St. John's doesn't have any. They want $1500. Where can I get a bail bond? We can't recommend any. We need $1500.

Nearest bail bond is in Pinetop. So I drive another 50 miles to there. They aren't open yet. I fall asleep.

Bail bond for $1500 is $150 plus $50. That works out to about 2000% APR. Plus they want 100% collateral. I don't have that. Looks like he's going to stay a week in jail.

He just spent 3 years in jail for being an alcoholic. They released him knowing he had this warrant which requires them to put him back in jail. What is the logic to that? The warrant was for missing a court ordered class that he missed because he was arrested.

His boss will keep him. He's a good worker. It's just more of life's bullshit. Funny how life's bullshit always seems to involve government?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

How was your Superbowl?

My sister was drinking. Does that not tell the whole story? Ok then, details...

Mom 74, step-dad 72, my sister 49, each took Seattle for $5 against my brother and New England. It was a good first half but my sister has a beer driven foul mouth that was pushing all my brothers buttons. After halftime, with the score 17-14 I tried to get her to focus on the game by offering my own $5 on the Patriots. That seemed to work for a few seconds then she got foul mouthed and belligerent with mom.

That was the last straw for my brother so he began yelling at her to respect mom while sis began swinging. That's when mom decided to get between the two. Totally predictable, but now I had to see what I could do. My sisters F-bombs were non stop.

I put my hand on my brothers shoulder and told him to get back, "I would handle it." To my surprise he did just that. I'm very proud of him. Now I just had mom and my sister to deal with. Dad had already gone to bed (he's an early riser.)

Mom was holding my sister down who was swearing and struggling. I leaned down and told her if she didn't calm down I was calling the cops. I told mom to get back and I would take care of it, but of course mom doesn't listen. My sister is swearing at me telling me to get off her when I wasn't touching her as I was standing behind mom.

So I asked my brother to dial 911 and he handed me the phone. I'm trying to talk to the operator giving our address, asking for cops and explain the situation and still involved with trying to get mom to get back as my sister is at full volume.

Eventually I get mom to get back and sis heads for her car out front. Since I'm still on the phone I ask my brother to keep her from drunk driving. When the operator says the police have arrived I think I had the sense to thank her before heading out front where they had my brother arrested and my sister nowhere to be seen.

The cop was alone so I had to wait to explain the situation until others arrived, then they released him, only to arrest him again for a misdemeanor warrant because he missed some required class.

In the morning I will have to drive to St. Johns to get him back from jail. My sister I hope they find and put in jail. If she ever comes back to my parents place I'm calling the cops. She has absolutely no respect for mom. The fault for that they share.

Wasn't it the best superbowl I ever missed?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Show Low today

Will probably catch a movie when I visit my bank in Show Low today. Two front tires and an oil change are all I have left to prepare my truck for my pending trip. Also will extend my insurance for another six months which expires at the end of march.

Four weeks of abject poverty, then I hit the road.

I have a lot of places I hope to visit. A lot of people to see.

Mainly I will try to get my head focused. Life should not be so consistently miserable although I see no potential relief on the health front. Being alone is the worst of it. Not being around people will strangely provide some relief from that constant pressure.

They say misery loves company.  Company however, is disinclined to support the miserable. Understandably so. I have to go stick my head in the toilet now for the second time this night. Doctors are completely worthless.

After this trip I expect to come to terms with my situation. I will need to arrange some personal space. I have none at this time. Otherwise, there is no point in coming 'home.' Aren't I the cheery fellow?

Update: Both theaters in Show Low had American Sniper, didn't go to either. Got tires and oil change, so my truck is ready. Will get insurance next month so I have something left for this month. Now I wait.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The ultimate controller... getting closer. Combine this with a 3d output and you'd never need to leave your head. Beware of brainhackers!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Red lander

In CJ's last post (his best yet) he mentions 10 passenger mars landers. Does this fit within the parameters of the previous 4 passenger, 2500 kg payload landers? Easily.

Volume is no issue. If you've seen photos of existing Dragons it's obvious there is room for 10 for a short duration landing. Assuming each suited crew is 200 kg that leaves 500 kg of consumables. 50 kg each or about a week of supplies... enough to get them to a prepared surface habitat. They aren't going to stay in the lander any longer than they have to.

At $150m per lander which can bring more than 500 kg to the orbiting ship if needed that gives us a per crew cost from orbit to surface of $15m each. Add another $15m from earth to LEO and we only need an estimate for orbit to orbit (will update in a bit) to get total cost per crew.

$50m total sounds about right. About a third my former estimate.

[Update: 185 ton of fuel and supplies requires 3 FH or one BFR so let's call that $300m or $3m per crew. I'm going to stick with my $50m total per crew estimate.]

Saturday, January 24, 2015

BFR and MCT: Some thoughts on what they will look like, and be able to do.

BFR and MCT; some thoughts on what they may look like, and what they will be able to do.

There’s been much speculation on what SpaceX’s “BFR” (a non official designation meaning “big freaking rocket”, or other variants of the middle word). What’s known is it will use Raptor methlox staged combustion engines, and the design intent it to make it totally reusable. The specs on Raptor keep changing, and I highly doubt SpaceX will settle on a BFR design until the engine design is finalized (doing otherwise would be insane).

So, let’s work with what we’ve got; BFR will be big, and be reusable, and use Methlox. It will have a low cost per pound to orbit (or it won’t be built). It will also carry MCT (Mars Colonial Transport) to orbit on some missions.

Now lets get into the specs, and the first spec to look at is, of course, $$$. Developing BRF and Raptor will cost one heck of a lot. It’s been theorized that SpaceX will pay this out of pocket and use BFR for nothing but its own Mars launches. I consider this preposterous; we’re talking billions, and there’s no reason to do it that way, so why not save that money for other purposes? SpaceX has always optimized for cost.

BFR is planned to be a very large, fully reusable, system, and thus should have a very low cost per pound to LEO. I’ve long argued that they’ll offset R&D and construction costs the way they always have; by selling launches. Why wouldn’t they? The counter argument has always been that there’s no call for that much capacity, but SpaceX’s recent announcement of a 4025 satellite constellation, plus other companies being interested in such large constellations, blows that argument out of the water; there may well be, and soon, plenty of demand for a large low-cost-per-pound launcher. Selling such launches (or using them internally to launch revenue-generating sats) is IMHO how SpaceX will offset the R&D and construction costs of BFR. One result of this will be a far lower per-Mars-mission launch cost – because the infrastructure will already exist, and will have been paid for. (A current example of this dynamic; SpaceX is using paid-for expendable launches to develop its reusable F9R).

Now, this gets us to MCT, the Mars vehicle itself. SpaceX has released little but the name and payload capacity, so there has been much speculation. Much of the speculation claims that MCT will be able to go, on its own power, from LEO to a landing on the surface of Mars, and then (after tanking up ISRU) return from the Mars surface to Earth’s surface. The inherent problem with this concept is the rocket equation and the fuel fraction required. Building a craft able to land on Mars, as well as fly a reentry and land on Earth, requires one heck of a lot of dedicated mass (heatsheild, airo surfaces, landing engines for Mars, and above all structural strength). Let’s use a Boeing 747 airliner as an example; its cargo capacity (cargo version) maxes at 123 tons, within the ballpark for MCT’s claimed 100 tons payload capacity to Mars. The 747, bare bones empty (without fuel or cargo) masses 128 tons. So, one ton of cargo for roughly 1 ton of aircraft. Not too bad… but if you start adding things like heat shielding and life support, plus the heavier pressurized compartment needed for space, you’re increasing it by a lot.
For comparison, the Space Shuttle orbiter had a dry mass of 110 tons, and could loft 25 tons, a ratio of greater than 4 to 1 (and the Shuttle didn’t carry its primary fuel internally, so didn’t have the mass of the external fuel tank counted). So, let’s say that, via some magical engineering a liberal use of unobtainium as a structural element, you can get a better mass/payload ratio than Shuttle (with its tiny pressurized volume and no significant internal tankage) when scaled up to the size of a 747’s internal volume and cargo capacity. Let’s call it a 4-1 ratio.     

Where does that leave us with a postulated surface-surface MCT? It has to be able to land on Earth and on Mars, as well as have all the life support and other equipment needed for long-duration deep-space missions. Let’s be optimistic and assume the 4-1 ratio above, and we get 400 tons. But, we’re forgetting something; the fuel tanks. Shuttle didn’t include them in the airframe (except the small hypergolic supply) but airliners do (and doing so adds a lot of mass). The heat shielding shielding, and structure, has to protect the fuel tanks too, which means it’s huge, and thus heavy. However, we’ll be super optimistic and say the airframe can be enlarged to hold it all by simply adding 147 tons (If that sounds like a lot, it isn’t, as we’ll see in a bit). So, a surface-to-surface MCT with 100 tons of cargo masses, unfueled, at a very optimistic 647 tons. That’s our dry weight – everything but fuel.

There’s also the matter of internal pressurized volume. Again using an airliner as an example, the 747 has around 32,000 cubic feet – and so, for comparison, does ISS. ISS has a crew of 6, though could handle a few more. However, let’s use the 747 – ISS internal volume and assume it’d be enough for 100 people. (for comparison, the 747 carries 500, but does so in such cramped confines that a 6 hour flight in one is bad, and a 15 hour flight is unmitigated hell). Even if we postulate horrific crowding, you’d need at least that much volume (probably more) to accommodate 100 people for a months-long journey. However, we’ll assume the aforementioned magic engineering and say that a surface to surface MCT (which has to deal with reentry and landing on both earth and Mars, as well as long-duration deep space capability) will mass 647 tons.

So, let’s say you have your surface-to-surface MCT in LEO, and want to go to Mars. How much fuel do you need? Fortunately, that’s easy to figure out; the rocket equation. The optimal Trans Mars Injection burn (least delta/V, but a rare window) is 4.7 KPS. This assumes essentially zero propulsion for Mars orbital insertion (which can be done via aerobraking or multi pass aerocapture) and the landing itself. For the latter, we’ll be optimistic and say .3 kps (which is less than the F9R recovery profile, even without full boostback).  That gives us a needed delta/V of 5kps, so time to tank up! Calculating how much is easy; we’ll assume 380 ISP for Raptor Vac, the most likely engine choice. We already have our dry mass of 647 tons. The rocket equation gives a fuel requirement of 1833 tons (, but there are always boiloff losses, margins, etc, to consider, so add 10%, and we need 2016 tons of fuel. That gives us a fueled MCT mass in Leo of 2663 tons (about 3X the mass of ISS).

Now, how do we get a 647 ton MCT to Leo? This is what’s called, in engineering terms, a bit of a problem. BFR is going to need to be really, really, really big. A Saturn 5 could put 118 tons into LEO. However, MCT will take a performance hit due to reusability, so at best you’ll need a BFR significantly larger than a Saturn 5 just to equal a Saturn 5’s payload. But, our postulated MCT, unfueled, is 6 times the capability of a Saturn 5. A BFR that could launch it thus can’t be 3 cores, each the size of a Saturn 5. You’re going to need something massing 10 times the Saturn 5 – far larger than any estimate I’ve ever seen for BFR, and also beyond the realm of the plausible (either fiscally or physically).   

You’re also going to need the equivalent of 17 Saturn 5 launches just to fuel up one MCT. You’ll also need one hell of a lot of ISRU fuel production on Mars to refuel it once it gets there.    

All this begs the question; why do it that way and spend so much fuel boosting, for example, the earth-entry structures all the way to Mars and back? Or the Mars entry and landing systems all the way to Earth and back? Why not do it much more economically from every perspective, and do so in a way that gives you a far more versatile system? It’s the same problem that makes Orion such a pathetic design; you’re hauling along a huge mass because you’re treating your living space as the reentry vehicle. Far, far better to use a very small RV, like Soyuz’s, for the RV, and use a lightweight hab for the rest.

So, given the implausibility above of a surface-to-surface MCT, what might an optimized MCT-BFR system look like? MCT would not land on either earth or mars; it would be a space-only vehicle, thus saving enormous mass. A good example of such a craft would be a space station module; an inflatable one, such as Bigelow is building… let’s use their BA-330 design for a starting point. Once inflated, it’s big; 11,654 square feet internal volume (for comparison, ISS has 32,333, roughly akin to a 747) It’s a space station module, thus has life support, etc, included. Mass? 20 tons. It’s not big enough though… so you’d need more. Let’s assume 4 linked together. That gives you redundancy too, plus an internal volume of 46,616 square feet. Mass? 80 tons empty – which interestingly, is 4/5th the mass figure SpaceX gives for MCT- 100 tons empty. That’s also far more realistic an internal volume for 100 people, plus the needed life support equipment and consumables. It’s designed as a space station, so it has the ability, inherently, to exist in space long-term, no need to land. 

However- we need propulsion and fuel. So, add a 5th inflatable module, because inflatables would be ideal for fuel storage in space – why waste the mass needed for a rigid tank like the Shuttle ET? I’ll assume 20 tons (it’d be a lot lighter than a hab module, but it’d need a Raptor engine and thrust structure – perhaps two Raptors, for redundancy)

Okay, we have our 5-module MCT. Now, we need to get it to Mars. We’ll do the same rocket equation as above, and so our 200 ton (100 ton empty mass, plus 100 tons of cargo or humans plus supplies) MCT needs 565 tons of propellant to push it through TMI from LEO. However, this MCT doesn’t land on Earth or Mars, so there’s no reason to waste Delta-V by going deep into the gravity wells of Earth and Mars; high-energy orbits will be far better. Let’s use geosynchronous transfer orbit as an example for Earth, and a similar orbit for Mars. That has a major impact on the needed Delta/V. Instead of 5 kps propulsive ability (Leo to Mars landing, assuming aerobraking) we need 1.3 kps (assuming multipass airocapture into Mars GTO). Now, what does that do to our fuel requirement? It reduces it from 565 tons to 85 tons.  (Quite a big difference from the 2016 tons of fuel a surface-to-surface MCT would need to get from LEO to Mars! It’s reduced our fuel (all of it very expensive upmass) needed by 96%). We also save on margins by omitting the need to haul decent fuel (with resulting losses) all the way to Mars.

However, we still need to get to and from the surface of Mars. The surface-to-surface MCT could do it, but the space-only one can’t – it’s limited to orbit. Fortunately, the answer lies in the launch vehicle, the BFR; the reusable upper stage, to be exact. Any upper stage that can return from orbit to Earth is going to be light, about the density/volume ratio of an empty beer can. Thus, even in Mars’ very thin atmosphere, terminal velocity should be in the low supersonic range. That makes for an easy propulsive landing (it already has a heat shield, due to needing one to reenter on Earth). It already has landing legs, too. With some minor modifications (incorporated into the original design), it should be able to land on Mars, and carry a payload while doing so. Once on Mars, it can fuel up from ISRU, and function as a very capable SSTO – with at least the same payload as the full BFR’s max capacity from Earth – Mars’ far lower gravity, and thus orbital speed, makes SSTO easy.  The MCT would arrive in an eccentric (Basically, Martian GTO) Mars orbit, and be met by a BFR upper stage from the surface. If the stage had a payload shroud, cargo could be placed within it for the trip to the surface. A pressurized compartment would do the same for people, or, something akin to Red Dragons could function as landers (and then be returned to orbit by the BFR stage, which could loft more than enough to carry 100 people down – for a trip of less than an hour, 10 could fit in a Dragon).

So, a BFR upper stage, you have your needed Mars ascent/decent vehicle.

Now what about getting the MCT from Mars to Earth? Easier. The BFR stage brings fuel and cargo and/or passengers. You then need 1.1 kps, with multipass aerocapture (which does not require heat shielding) to get from Mars GTO to Earth, and brake into GTO at Earth. From there, high capacity (10 seat) Dragons could deliver any crew to earth, or a simple, small, orbital tug could transfer any cargo to LEO (again using areocapture). A likely cargo (seeing as how MCT would otherwise be coming back empty) would be fuel for the fuel depot in GTO, or one in LEO – it takes a lot less delta/v to get to Leo from the surface of Mars than it does from the surface or Earth. 

Given the low delta-V requirements from GTO to Martian GTO, you could add 1 KPS to do a fast transfer. (something else SpaceX has mentioned). This would also ease the launch window timeframe significantly (my calcs in this post are based on the once-in-2.2 years optimal Mars window).

Therefore, my hunch is that the MCT will either be, or be very similar to, four or five BA 330 modules. Going further, the four manned ones could be linked in pairs, separated by a tether, and spun up to generate artificial G. Generating Mars G would be even easier, as it’s 38% of Earth’s. This would acclimatize crew to Mars G en route, while avoiding the debilitating effects of prolonged weightlessness.  Also, artificial G will probably be required in order to get the breeding stock of food animals (which any Mars colony will have to have) to Mars. No need to take a whole flock of chickens or drove of pigs, for example, but you’ll need to take two or three plus a few hundred frozen embryos.

That brings us back to the BFR; how big does it need to be? For the space-only MCT, it really only has to get, at most, about 100 tons to GTO, which makes it about one and a half Saturn 5 class in capacity – well within the speculated range for the BFR. That’d also give its upper stage the capability (assuming ISRU refueling on Mars) to function as a Mars ascent/decent SSTO vehicle with 100 or more tons of payload.

As a further piece of evidence supporting my hunch that that’s what they have in mind for some BFR upper stages, SpaceX has said one of the reasons for choosing methane was the ability to obtain it via ISRU on Mars. So, unless part of the BFR is intended to go to Mars, that makes little sense (otherwise, only a surface-to-surface MCT would need Methlox, and could use smaller engines).

Using this architecture, the result would be a fairly low-cost, reusable multi-vehicle Mars transportation system. It would have cargo capacity in both directions, allowing for the Mars colony to export ISRU-derived commodities (Fuel, oxidizer, water, food) to Earth orbit (a good fiscal basis for an economically self-supporting colony), due to the fact that it takes far less propulsive delta-V to get from Mars surface to LEO than to do so from Earth.  Granted, there isn’t currently a demand, but the near future should see such a demand, in the form of several LEO and higher space stations, fuel depots, etc. (the advent of the cheap-per-pound launch capacity BFR promises would help create that market).  

Major caveat; I’m writing this post in the belief (If I’m in error, please correct me) that it contradicts nothing SpaceX has recently officially announced regarding BFR and MCT. I do however discount some SpaceX announcements from the more distant past, due to SpaceX's penchant for changing plans due to encountering physical and fiscal limitations during R&D. They have always done this. For example, their recovery method for F9R looks nothing like their announced parachute-based splashdown concept they tried with F9 1.0. Also, Falcon Heavy will look very different from the F9 1.0 based FH they originally announced. They’ve also changed the specs on Raptor massively, more than once. The only thing I’m accusing them of is having a sane approach to engineering, one that’s not needlessly bound by their past estimates. I consider this very commendable. However, it does means that outside speculators, such as myself, sometimes need to assume that some of SpaceX’s announcements may have a short shelf life. Thus, I’m taking such liberties in my speculation here.

A couple of definitions for terms used here; Aerobraking is using a partial entry to dissipate velocity and enter orbit (or set up for full entry). Aerocapture is multiple passes through the atmospheric fringes, such as MRO used to enter Mars orbit. Aerobraking requires a heat shield, while aerocapture does not. Both save on propulsive delta-V.