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  #1  
Old 11-16-2012, 01:36 PM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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What's the Moon Worth?

Cecil and Una have apparently never heard of Dr. David Criswell.

Dr. Criswell is Director of Space Systems Operations, University of Houston, and a member/director of the Texas Space Grant Consortium. He advocates a system to supply earth's power needs with electricity, using solar collectors on the moon.

The system was/is viable with 1980's technology. The idea in the present form has been around since the 70's. It was written up in The Industrial Physicist Magazine in 2002: http://www.aip.org/tip/INPHFA/vol-8/iss-2/p12.pdf

The Pentagon has recommended the United States develop space based solar in the interest of energy security, citing dwindling oil reserves, and technical feasibility. Dr. Criswell's system was specifically mentioned as feasible to pursue.
http://voices.yahoo.com/the-pentagon...er-630242.html

As to figuring the value, a demonstration system would take a bit under ten years to build, with the capacity to deliver about half the U.S. energy requirement, and from there, scales up to supply whatever Earth can use. The system specifications are targeted to supply commercial power at rates that allow developing nations to spend no more than 10% of their GDP on all phases of commercial power.

Criswell designed the system's energy supply cost, based on recommendations by the World Energy Council at the 18th Congress: http://www.highfrontier.org/Archive/...m_Criswell.pdf

Q & A with Dr. Criswell, radio show recording: http://www.thespaceshow.com/detail.asp?q=285

The system would turn profitable a few years after it was up and running. This system will actually pay for itself, without massive ongoing public subsidies.

So, since this venture is actually feasible, both financially and technically, based on average rates of 10% of GDP among developing nations, I propose that would be the minimum financial value of the moon.

Keeping it simple, what's 10 % of the total of Earth's GDP? There's your baseline Moon value.


*****************************
LINK TO COLUMN: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...the-moon-worth

Last edited by C K Dexter Haven; 11-16-2012 at 02:32 PM.. Reason: Added link -- CKDH
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  #2  
Old 11-16-2012, 01:59 PM
Deeg Deeg is offline
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What if the moon was put on ebay? Let's pretend that the UN has decided to sell the whole moon for a lump sum and it was open to any bidders (the money would go towards starving people and militant dictator cronies). What would people pay for it?

The moon (currently) has zero economic value. I suppose the owner could charge tolls for any future countries (China?) that wanted to land someone on the moon (we'll pretend that China is on board and would respect moon ownership). I can't see how the owner could charge for moonlight. I assume that images of the moon are in the public domain and the owner couldn't require royalties.

So that leaves prestige and future worth as the driver of the price. Most likely a few governments would get involved. I could imagine China wanting to own it and the US trying to barge in to prevent China from getting it. They would probably price out major corporations or loony billionaires. In the end a consortium of Western countries would buy it and pledge to keep it open, like the Antarctic.

So, what would China pay to own the moon? The Western countries would have to top that. $50 billion?
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Old 11-16-2012, 02:21 PM
rogerbox rogerbox is offline
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I wonder if it's possible for a country to "own" the moon (as far as one can "own" a piece of property anyway which is up for dispute even on earth). For example, there is the treaty against weaponizing space. Especially right now I would bet that should the moon go up for auction, the US and China would both have bigger economic fish to fry and the moon would go to a small group of investors who mainly want a presitge piece, and would be happy to take some of the loss to say they own x% of Luna.

How would they make money? Some random ideas:

-Build a moon base with scientific observation center
-Work with Space-X and other private space programs, eventually they will want a moon landing to practice on something easy before they try other planets
-Tourism when private industry is up to snuff.
-Sleezy money laundering, the Cayman islands x10000 in terms of how greasy you can get prosecution wise.
-I wonder if you could have a commercial ship with a flag of convenience here on earth that would fly a Luna flag? They could sell rock-bottom prices for their flag of convenience, and undercut every country for pennies on the dollar. It's almost free money isn't it?

This is a fun thread idea, thinking about ways to monetize the moon. There was another woman in Spain who claimed ownership of the Sun, google it if you're interested.
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Old 11-16-2012, 02:24 PM
rogerbox rogerbox is offline
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A good link on ownership of the moon:

http://www.lunarregistry.com/info/embassy.shtml
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  #5  
Old 11-16-2012, 02:34 PM
C K Dexter Haven C K Dexter Haven is offline
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Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Boards, Chicago Stonepro, we're glad you found us. For future ref, when you start a thread, it's helpful to other readers to provide a link to the column you're discussing. Yeah, it's on the front page now, but in a week or so, it will slide into the Archives. So, to save searching time (and to keep us all on the same page, at least vaguely), the link is useful.

No sweat, I've added it for you, you'll know for next time. And, as I say, welcome!
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Old 11-16-2012, 02:42 PM
Oakminster Oakminster is offline
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I am surprised and dismayed that Cecil failed to consult this biography while writing this column.
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Old 11-16-2012, 05:09 PM
foolsguinea foolsguinea is offline
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Since Luna's tidal influence is key to the development of life on Earth, its value is incalculable. It necessarily belongs to everyone and no one.

It's like asking what the Pacific Ocean is worth. Or Asia.
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  #8  
Old 11-16-2012, 05:51 PM
Hussman32 Hussman32 is offline
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For what it's worth, this concept in fusion electricity generation is probably as close as any of them.

http://generalfusion.com/

And yes, I acknowledge they have 4,832,142,668 technical problems to solve, not to mention the policy issues, but the idea of using discrete fusion reactions instead of a sustained reaction does have a very high cleverness factor.
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Old 11-16-2012, 08:09 PM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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Thank you, C K

I thought when I clicked the link to respond to the article, a link would be created for the thread. I guess I was wrong.

Thanks for both, the heads-up, and the welcome.
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  #10  
Old 11-16-2012, 08:20 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Dr. Criswell's idea isn't TOO hairbrained, but it has a hard time competing with such down-to-earth energy generation as, say, coal, oil or gas.

When coal runs out, we might turn to the moon. Oh, unless solar collectors and wind generators on the earth get a little more efficient. What are the chances of that?

"What's the Moon worth?" reminds me of the old joke, "What's a Grecian Urn?"

Last edited by Musicat; 11-16-2012 at 08:21 PM..
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  #11  
Old 11-16-2012, 09:34 PM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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The question was about economic value of the moon, not aesthetic.

Real estate speculation is out of the question, as pointed out above, referencing the Outer Space Treaty.

Mineral exploitation isn't anywhere near practical, as pointed out by Cecil and others. Helium 3, if exploited, could be used immediately in bomb making, to increase the power, decrease the weight, and "improve" the range of nuclear munitions. I can maybe see this as strategic for say, China, but not in the next 20 years, and again, not a near-practical way to economically value the moon.

On the other hand, the Lunar Solar Power system is could have been built already. As for competing with coal, oil, gas, solar, wind, it competes just fine. Those analyses are available at the World Energy Council link I cited.

Solar Power Via the Moon isn't hare-brained at all.

Japan's biggest construction firm, after the Fukishima disaster, announced a plan to build such a system. According to them, the engineering will take eight to ten years. They've already started on it.

Unfortunately, their system would include laser transmission, and the cost per kilowatt would put the electricity transmitted out of reach of much of the developing world.

Cecil was trying to come up with something more tangible to use, to hang a practical money value on. He's right, today there's nothing practical. However, there IS something in the foreseeable, not too distant future.
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Old 11-16-2012, 09:47 PM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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Personally, I'd prefer that the U.S. would wake up and implement Criswell's version of the LSP system. It's better technically and economically. Besides, it's a U.S. idea - the U.S. should build it, and have majority control over it.

Electricity world-wide, at no more than 10% of world GDP.

Someone help me out on the math here.

Last edited by Chicago Stonepro; 11-16-2012 at 09:51 PM..
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  #13  
Old 11-16-2012, 11:48 PM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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Good ol Wikipedia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_world_product

Depending on how you slice it, world GDP, also known as gross world product - GWP - was either 70 trillion or 80 trillion dollars U.S. (approx.) for 2011.

So, at 10%, the economic value of the moon would be seven or eight trillion dollars U.S., plus maybe 4% by the end of 2012.

Well, maybe not. That's just the annual cash flow, which includes the profit. It's merely the simplest number one could put to the value of the moon.

When you separate power production from the biosphere, and make it comparatively too expensive to burn fossil fuels, or spit atoms, significant cost savings add to the moon's value.

Think human health impacts, environmental clean-up costs, nuclear site and uranium mine decommissioning costs, etc.

By the way, the power it takes to build, decommission, store the waste from, and decommission the supply quarries to, each nuclear power plant is almost equal to - and in some cases more than - the power generated by the plant during its lifetime. Getting electricity from the moon gives us net new energy to use to actually decommission our nuclear systems.

Someone please help me out with the math here.
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  #14  
Old 11-17-2012, 09:44 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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I have indeed been hearing about proposals for beamed microwave power since the 1970s. It will never happen. The costs will always be more than what the proponents claim and the profits less. And the potential dangers will scare the pants off of everybody, just as they have for the past 40 years. If you think people are hysterical about nuclear power plants, try selling them on power from space.

Every wild scheme has diehard backers, who can never understand why other people are so opposed. This is one of hundreds. None of them have ever hit the mass market. Ask yourself why.
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  #15  
Old 11-17-2012, 11:53 AM
Askthepizzaguy Askthepizzaguy is offline
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Greetings pathetic Earth-dwellers.

It is I, Dr. Evil, broadcasting to you from my top-secret "Death Star" orbiting the Moon. It is a space station equipped with the largest light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation device (or "LASER") in the known universe.

From my top secret "Death Star" lair I have been observing your discussion related to the value of the Moon. And it seems to me that you value this particular rock to a rather large degree, but cannot seem to agree on its value. Well fear not, I will solve your dilemma for you.

I will blow up the Moon with my "LASER" if you do not give me ONE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS.

Peace out.
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Old 11-17-2012, 01:24 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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I will blow up the Moon with my "LASER" if you do not give me ONE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS.

Peace out.
Do you accept Visa?
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  #17  
Old 11-17-2012, 01:36 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Every wild scheme has diehard backers, who can never understand why other people are so opposed. This is one of hundreds. None of them have ever hit the mass market. Ask yourself why.
Do you really have to ask? Everybody knows Big Oil bought up all the patents!
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Old 11-17-2012, 05:24 PM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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Folks used to say much the same things as Exapno Mapcase, about using steam to get things done.

A bit earlier, folks used to get really upset if you didn't agree with them that the earth was the center of the universe.

Earlier than that, folks believed if you sailed too far out on the ocean, you'd fall off the edge. You'd be considered rather ignorant and foolhardy if you disagreed.

Here we are again.
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Old 11-17-2012, 05:30 PM
Xema Xema is online now
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Folks used to say much the same things as Exapno Mapcase, about using steam to get things done.
Somehow, argument along the lines of "Lot's of people think it's impractical - therefore it must be practical" isn't very convincing.
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Old 11-17-2012, 05:32 PM
Xema Xema is online now
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Originally Posted by foolsguinea View Post
Since Luna's tidal influence is key to the development of life on Earth, its value is incalculable. It necessarily belongs to everyone and no one.
Even if it were privately owned, its tidal influence would be much the same as it is today.
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  #21  
Old 11-17-2012, 05:49 PM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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Here's the Pentagon report on this:

http://www.nss.org/settlement/ssp/li...release-01.pdf

You might want to check out the Executive Summary, in particular.
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  #22  
Old 11-17-2012, 07:41 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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Originally Posted by Chicago Stonepro View Post
Folks used to say much the same things as Exapno Mapcase, about using steam to get things done.

A bit earlier, folks used to get really upset if you didn't agree with them that the earth was the center of the universe.

Earlier than that, folks believed if you sailed too far out on the ocean, you'd fall off the edge. You'd be considered rather ignorant and foolhardy if you disagreed.
They laughed at Galileo. But he was right.

They laughed at Bozo the Clown.

Therefore...
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Old 11-18-2012, 02:07 AM
gamerunknown gamerunknown is offline
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Even if it were privately owned, its tidal influence would be much the same as it is today.
I always account for the worth of something as a measure of dispensability. If humanity couldn't do without it, it's priceless.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:08 AM
Freakenstein Freakenstein is offline
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I can't see how the owner could charge for moonlight.
The owner better keep that out of My bedroom or I'll sue him for 999 billion gazillions!
And don't get Me started with those tidal waves and werewolves...
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:40 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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They laughed at Galileo. But he was right.

They laughed at Bozo the Clown.

Therefore...
Therefore ... Bozo the Clown was played by Galileo!
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  #26  
Old 11-18-2012, 12:43 PM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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They laughed at Galileo. But he was right.

They laughed at Bozo the Clown.

Therefore...
Therefore, laughter makes the world go...'round?

Last edited by Chicago Stonepro; 11-18-2012 at 12:45 PM..
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  #27  
Old 11-18-2012, 01:42 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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Dr. Criswell is Director of Space Systems Operations, University of Houston, and a member/director of the Texas Space Grant Consortium. He advocates a system to supply earth's power needs with electricity, using solar collectors on the moon.

[snip]

The system was/is viable with 1980's technology. The idea in the present form has been
As to figuring the value, a demonstration system would take a bit under ten years to build, with the capacity to deliver about half the U.S. energy requirement, and from there, scales up to supply whatever Earth can use. The system specifications are targeted to supply commercial power at rates that allow developing nations to spend no more than 10% of their GDP on all phases of commercial power.

[snip]

So, since this venture is actually feasible, both financially and technically, based on average rates of 10% of GDP among developing nations, I propose that would be the minimum financial value of the moon.
Read the linked paper. Things this plan would require to set up lunar solar collectors and microwave transmitters to Earth

1. Dramatically bring down cost of launch to space.
2. Build 20 to 40 permanent manned bases on the Moon's surface, including near side and far side. Each base will be the equivalent of 1 Very Large Antenna. (27 antennas, each 25 m diameter and weighing 209 metric tons)
3. Develop techniques and equipment to mine, refine, process, and build lunar materials into the base components, including hab modules, solar cell collectors, and microwave antenna equipment.
4. Build several thousand receiver stations on Earth that provide the collective area of 100,000 km2.
5. Build a fleet of satellites to relay power from the moon to those receiver antennas and then to the surface stations (because the Earth rotates).
6. Create an organization the size and complexity of the International Space Station agency to plan and oversee the execution of the project.

All of that is merely technical challenges, not accounting for the psychological hurdle to convince people that beaming that much microwave power at the Earth's surface is safe. Sure, the beams are 10% of the solar intensity, and the antenna zones can be closed to humans, but what are the risks of bad aim? And more importantly, what are the risks to someone changing the transmission wavelength, and turning the power transmitter into a death beam? Is the system terrorist/hacker/mad dictator proof?

Sure, the technical challenges could be overcome in 10 years - if you dump more money into the project than was spent on Apollo. They want 10% of the GDP. Apollo had, like, 2% of GDP at its height of funding. Um, yeah, I see that happening. Especially now, in our current economic situation.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerbox View Post
A good link on ownership of the moon:

http://www.lunarregistry.com/info/embassy.shtml
That site is weird. It claims no one owns the Moon so no one can sell it, but then claims to be selling real estate property on the Moon. Also, they do something weird with their links. I right-clicked on the link to see what they meant about renaming a lunar crater, I get a weird pop up box telling me everything on that site is copyrighted. I can't copy/paste the link. And clicking the link opens the site main page.

Goobers.
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  #28  
Old 11-18-2012, 04:09 PM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
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Originally Posted by Chicago Stonepro View Post
Folks used to say much the same things as Exapno Mapcase, about using steam to get things done.
Did they? Any examples you can point me to?
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  #29  
Old 11-18-2012, 04:48 PM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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Read the linked paper. Things this plan would require to set up lunar solar collectors and microwave transmitters to Earth

1. Dramatically bring down cost of launch to space.
2. Build 20 to 40 permanent manned bases on the Moon's surface, including near side and far side. Each base will be the equivalent of 1 Very Large Antenna. (27 antennas, each 25 m diameter and weighing 209 metric tons)
3. Develop techniques and equipment to mine, refine, process, and build lunar materials into the base components, including hab modules, solar cell collectors, and microwave antenna equipment.
4. Build several thousand receiver stations on Earth that provide the collective area of 100,000 km2.
5. Build a fleet of satellites to relay power from the moon to those receiver antennas and then to the surface stations (because the Earth rotates).
6. Create an organization the size and complexity of the International Space Station agency to plan and oversee the execution of the project.

All of that is merely technical challenges, not accounting for the psychological hurdle to convince people that beaming that much microwave power at the Earth's surface is safe. Sure, the beams are 10% of the solar intensity, and the antenna zones can be closed to humans, but what are the risks of bad aim? And more importantly, what are the risks to someone changing the transmission wavelength, and turning the power transmitter into a death beam? Is the system terrorist/hacker/mad dictator proof?

Sure, the technical challenges could be overcome in 10 years - if you dump more money into the project than was spent on Apollo. They want 10% of the GDP. Apollo had, like, 2% of GDP at its height of funding. Um, yeah, I see that happening. Especially now, in our current economic situation.
I encourage folks to read all the linked papers, and also listen to Dr. Criswell's taped radio interview, as well. The questions you pose are good, and all were addressed.

According the the executive summary of the Pentagon report on Space Based Solar Power, we can definitely build this thing to be safe and effective: http://www.nss.org/settlement/ssp/li...release-01.pdf

Apparently, the beam risks are low enough that proposals include locating rectennas above industrial complexes and farmland. In other words, the focus of the microwave field can't become tight enough to create a "death ray". It's nothing like standing/working too close to a microwave communications repeater, either.

If recollection serves me, your cell phone against your head is a riskier proposition.

As to the mad dictator/terrorist scenario, Criswell's version couldn't be weaponized, and of course, access and control security would be baked-in. The major risk wouldn't be someone zapping opponents, but I suppose, withholding supply and/or using rates to manipulate trade advantages - all the more reason for the U.S. to take leadership position within a coalition.

However, this thing shouldn't be a government-run enterprise. It leverages government resources up-front, no different than we did with nuclear power plants, long-distance transmission lines, wind turbine technology, even telephone lines. This is a business.

At present, Japan is planning a more costly system that uses lasers, which can certainly be weaponized. Also, China has an aggressive space program squarely aimed at the moon, and has now begun working with Russia on unrelated energy projects.

Comparing this thing to Apollo is apples to oranges.

For one, this is a business. For another, U.S. taxpayer space investment over the decades provides the knowledge base this system rests on. Space investment has returned orders of magnitude on taxpayers' dollars. We've already got skin in this game, if we choose to do this. It's ludicrous not to.

The money we'll spend is for cheap, safe, clean, electricity - on a system that will deliver it without long distance transmission lines, ensuring global economic development - without making the planet uninhabitable in the process.

Elon Musk looked at Space Based Solar Power, decided the first step was to bring down launch costs. That's why he started Space-X.

Space-X now has completed successful missions to the International Space Station.

Elon Musk isn't the only one who understands this thing, either.
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:05 PM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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Did they? Any examples you can point me to?
Here's one:

In part:
"At that time, the late eighteenth century, horse-drawn railways were used to carry coal and iron from mines in the South Wales Valleys and other industrial centres.

But Trevithick recognised that a steam engine on wheels - a locomotive - would be more effective than horses at pulling heavy loads.

A rival ironmaster - believed to be Richard Crawshay - dismissed the idea as preposterous."

From:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/southeast...evithick.shtml
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  #31  
Old 11-18-2012, 07:25 PM
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Way back in the day someone wrote a song about microwave energy transmission from a station at the Lagrange 3 point. It was in some Sci-Fi mag. Sung to the tune of "Home on the Range" and "Oklahoma!" it went like this.

[Home On The Range]
Oh, give me a home, where the gravitions roam.
Where the three body problem is solved.
Where microwaves play down at three degrees K,
And the cold virus never evolved.

Home, home on Lagrange,
Where the space debris always collects.
We posses so it seems
Two of man's greatest dreams,
Solar power and zero-G sex.

You don't need no oil
Or a Tokamak coil.
Solar stations provide Earth with juice.
Power beams are sublime
So no one will mind -
if we cook the occasional goose.

[Oklahoma! theme]
All the cattle are standing like statues.
All the cattle are standing like statues.
They smell of roast beef every time I ride by----
And the hawks and the falcons are dropping like flies.

[Home On The Range]
I'm sick of this place,
it's just McDonald's in space.
And living here's really a bore.
Tell the civvies don't cry...
They can kiss me goodbye...
Cause I'm moving next week
To L4.

Why it never won an Emmy is beyond me.
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Old 11-18-2012, 11:17 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Wake me up when anybody sends people into orbit and returns them safely. That's when I'll start being interested in private space ventures.

As for trillion dollar microwave power stations... Not in my lifetime. And it's not me you have to convince. How many converts do you have in Congress, just out of curiosity?
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  #33  
Old 11-19-2012, 10:44 AM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
Wake me up when anybody sends people into orbit and returns them safely. That's when I'll start being interested in private space ventures.
Looks like about a two year nap:

http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=20120803
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  #34  
Old 11-19-2012, 11:12 AM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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As for trillion dollar microwave power stations... Not in my lifetime. And it's not me you have to convince. How many converts do you have in Congress, just out of curiosity?
I'm sorry to hear that. I don't know you, but suicide seems so drastic...

Believe me, if you can just hang in there another 20 years or so, everything will be alright, I promise.

As for Congress, it's true, there's far too much ADD over there, but it's starting to turn around a bit. That's precisely the point of discussions like this one.

The Pentagon study did have this to say about that:

" FINDING: The SBSP Study Group found that SBSP is an idea that appears to generate significant interest and support across a broad variety of sectors.
Compared to other ideas either for space exploration or alternative energy, Space‐Based Solar Power is presently not a publicly well‐known idea, in part because it has no organizational advocate within government, and has not received any substantial funding or public attention for a significant period of time.
Nevertheless, DoD review team leaders were virtually overwhelmed by the interest in Space‐Based Solar Power that they discovered. What began as a small e‐mail group became unmanageable as the social network & map‐of‐expertise expanded and word spread. To cope, study leaders were forced to move to an on‐line collaborative group with nearly daily requests for new account access, ultimately growing to over 170 aerospace and policy experts all contributing pro‐bono. This group became so large, and the need to more closely examine certain questions so acute, that the group had to be split into four additional groups. As word spread and enthusiasm grew in the space advocacy community, study leaders were invited to further expand to an open web log in collaboration with the Space Frontier Foundation. The amount of media interest was substantial. Activity was so intense that total e‐mail traffic for the study leads could be as high as 200 SBSP‐related e‐mails a day, and the sources of interest were very diverse. "

-From page 17 http://www.nss.org/settlement/ssp/li...release-01.pdf
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  #35  
Old 11-19-2012, 11:30 AM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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Originally Posted by Chicago Stonepro View Post
According the the executive summary of the Pentagon report on Space Based Solar Power, we can definitely build this thing to be safe and effective: http://www.nss.org/settlement/ssp/li...release-01.pdf

Apparently, the beam risks are low enough that proposals include locating rectennas above industrial complexes and farmland. In other words, the focus of the microwave field can't become tight enough to create a "death ray". It's nothing like standing/working too close to a microwave communications repeater, either.
I read the executive summary, as well as skimmed the Science & Technology, Logistics & Infrastructure, and Strategy and Security sections. I cannot find anything addressing the safety of the microwave transmitters or preventing them being turned into a death ray. Ah, just found it under Policy & Legal.

It seems to be claiming that the wavelengths chosen combine with the distance from geosynch to ensure that the energy density will be low enough not to be a risk. However, I would want to ensure the rectennas could not be refocused to a different wavelength. Certainly the mentioned Japanese system using lasers would be riskier.

I did read a bit about this when reading up on the Space Elevator concept. One of the justifications for developing the Space Elevator was to reduce launch costs to the level that space power satellites become economically feasible. There was a short section there describing some of what you mention.

Everything I read in that report backs up the long list I made. They make the same points. They are calling for launching/building satellites over 10 times the mass of the ISS, several kilometers across, and placed in Geosynch instead of low Earth orbit. This is not a "simple" plan by any stretch of the imagination. Robotics and automation may be highly involved in the assembly process, but it's still on a scale larger than anything we've ever accomplished - including Apollo.


Quote:
Comparing this thing to Apollo is apples to oranges.
Apollo is the closest thing we have to a benchmark to understand the scope of what is required. Your proposal is a Lunar power station, not just Geosatellites. And using lunar materials to build the equipment. You are right, it is apples and oranges - Apollo is a tiny apple compared to the orchard of oranges this proposal entails. The paper you cite mentions Apollo and Manhattan Project as examples.

I'm not saying this is impossible. It may even be inevitable. But it won't be simple or cheap. 10% of the world's GDP is not cheap or simple.
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:43 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Originally Posted by Chicago Stonepro View Post
Believe me, if you can just hang in there another 20 years or so, everything will be alright, I promise.
I have hopes that a space elevator may be started in 20 years. But not finished.

Quote:
As for Congress, it's true, there's far too much ADD over there, but it's starting to turn around a bit. That's precisely the point of discussions like this one.
Because so many in Congress are reading here. Not that it would help. Meet the House Science Committee.

Quote:
The Pentagon study did have this to say about that:
That study is dated 2007. Your side has not taken a single step forward in five years. At this rate the program will get off the ground at approximately the same time that the sun swells to encompass the earth.
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  #37  
Old 11-19-2012, 12:56 PM
ed anger ed anger is offline
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Well, according to NASA the weight of the moon is: 81 quintillion tons.

The moon is made of green cheese, a common price for blue cheese (the closest I could find) is $18/pound.

That's 81,000,000,000,000,000,000 x 2000 x 18, so the moon is worth $2,916,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
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Old 11-19-2012, 01:16 PM
Askthepizzaguy Askthepizzaguy is offline
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Originally Posted by ed anger View Post
Well, according to NASA the weight of the moon is: 81 quintillion tons.

The moon is made of green cheese, a common price for blue cheese (the closest I could find) is $18/pound.

That's 81,000,000,000,000,000,000 x 2000 x 18, so the moon is worth $2,916,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

Well, we all know that the moon is not made of green cheese.

But what if it were made of barbecue spare ribs, would you eat it then?

It's a simple question ed. Would you eat the moon if it were made of ribs?
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  #39  
Old 11-19-2012, 01:27 PM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Askthepizzaguy View Post
Well, we all know that the moon is not made of green cheese.

But what if it were made of barbecue spare ribs, would you eat it then?

It's a simple question ed. Would you eat the moon if it were made of ribs?
Beef or pork? What kind of bbq sauce? What spices?

Do I have to share?
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  #40  
Old 11-19-2012, 01:38 PM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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What you see in that report is a focus on putting a cloud of generating satellites up. That's overall the more expensive and complex approach, but also the easiest to get started with.

In fact:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30198977...e-solar-power/

The ball appears to be rolling.

Electricity from solar satellite makes economic and security sense for running military field operations within conflict and disaster recovery areas. It also makes sense for demonstration, and to some extent, to bootstrap private sector space capability.

Two major issues with solar satellite as main focus:

1. The earth's major population expansion is in developing countries, and the price of electricity from solar satellite means the economies in those countries are held back, won't be keeping pace with population growth - and to grow at all, will be stuck with coal and oil.

2. Ever see an illustration of how crowded Earth orbit has become? Believe it or not, there's not enough safe orbital real-estate available where we need it, to be generating much of what we need from orbit.

So, why the focus on satellites? Check out the guest list contributing to the party, er, study. Many of them would make their money by maximizing launched mass. The satellite system means every pound/kilo that goes into generating electricity MUST be launched.

Every satellite with a discrete on-orbit propulsion/maneuvering system. And a finite orbital life before it becomes troublesome space junk.

The Lunar Solar Power system would use relay satellites around both earth and moon, not a blanket of generators. Far less stuff to maintain in orbit. Significantly less mass is launched, to achieve a parity of capacity. Generating capacity actually scales up faster, once the demonstration is established.

The best news, in my view, isn't just that Space Based Solar Power is considered feasible and practical, but that even the solar satellite version of it is being pursued.

SpaceX is developing a heavy lift system for Mars and Moon missions, Falcon Heavy. The demo flight is on the manifest for 2013, and a DoD mission is already booked. The system will be human rated, and projected launch costs are far less than anyone ever imagined.
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:23 PM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
Because so many in Congress are reading here. Not that it would help. Meet the House Science Committee.


That study is dated 2007. Your side has not taken a single step forward in five years. At this rate the program will get off the ground at approximately the same time that the sun swells to encompass the earth.

No, but because Cecil is so cool, and attracts such activist nerds. Who likely vote. And maybe bug their elected officials.

Great link regarding the science committee.

Given what we see of the science committee, among other things, is it any wonder things seem to be standing still?

Actually, there's been progress - mostly on privatization of launch system development. Scuttling the Shuttle program basically killed our Low Earth Orbit capabilities, which could have been leveraged while the private firms came up to speed. You'd have put the onus on Charlie Bolden about that one. He seems to suffer from a vision deficit. The Administration basically followed his uninspired lead.

No matter what we do next, NASA needs to work from Low Earth Orbit. Cutting the manned LEO programs was akin to plowing your corn under before you ran the combines through, to save on operating costs. It'll cost us about five times more to reconstitute LEO capability, rather than scaling back and carrying some of it forward.

If memory serves, Bolden was CEO of an aerospace company between being an astronaut and being NASA Adminstrator. Wonder if he has any stock/options or venture money in any of the spin-offs, start-ups, competitors?
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  #42  
Old 11-19-2012, 04:16 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Follow the money is always the first rule of politics.

That cuts both ways. You need to ask why the military might be so happy about SBSP.

My answer is that in a sane world, the military budget would be cut by half. They know this and it terrifies them. Dangle a piece of a trillion-dollar spending plan in front of their face and they'll snap at it like hungry dogs. But it is simply not possible in our contemporary political world for the military to be anywhere near SBSP, nor should it be. That's one reason it will never get further than enthusiastic feasibility studies.

Proponents of Big Tech never seem to realize that projects of that magnitude as much social and political as they are scientific and engineering. Everything on SBSP falls onto the latter side. Personally, I find both equally impossible. Even if I didn't, I would be spending all my time studying how to get a Big Tech project going in a world that is extremely suspicious of them and doesn't want to spend the money on currently imaginary future benefits. That's the more important facet today, and the solution would help a hundred projects besides SBSP. Ignore the social side, though, and I guarantee failure even for the most obvious and most critical programs. Look at climate change for an example of how people remain unimpressed by evidence that is staring them in the face. If you can't do anything there, you cannot do anything with future tech.
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  #43  
Old 11-20-2012, 02:44 AM
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Such a project would likely require international cooperation, which would not be likely given military overtures of the project (China and Russia would dissent, most likely).
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:26 PM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
Follow the money is always the first rule of politics.

That cuts both ways. You need to ask why the military might be so happy about SBSP.

My answer is that in a sane world, the military budget would be cut by half. They know this and it terrifies them. Dangle a piece of a trillion-dollar spending plan in front of their face and they'll snap at it like hungry dogs. But it is simply not possible in our contemporary political world for the military to be anywhere near SBSP, nor should it be. That's one reason it will never get further than enthusiastic feasibility studies.

Proponents of Big Tech never seem to realize that projects of that magnitude as much social and political as they are scientific and engineering. Everything on SBSP falls onto the latter side. Personally, I find both equally impossible. Even if I didn't, I would be spending all my time studying how to get a Big Tech project going in a world that is extremely suspicious of them and doesn't want to spend the money on currently imaginary future benefits. That's the more important facet today, and the solution would help a hundred projects besides SBSP. Ignore the social side, though, and I guarantee failure even for the most obvious and most critical programs. Look at climate change for an example of how people remain unimpressed by evidence that is staring them in the face. If you can't do anything there, you cannot do anything with future tech.
"Follow the Money" - I totally agree. That's why I'm calling out Bolden on his NASA mis-leadership, among other issues here. There's also the issue of how there could have been strong media interest around SBSP back in 2007, but basically nothing made it out to the public.

If you check out the list of contributors, big energy and big defense contractors were absolutely in the mix. I don't think you'll find many who deny links between big money and big media.

Media consolidation in the U.S. is NOT a boon to representational democracy.

I don't see the military as "happy about SBSP". We don't see the Joint Chiefs pushing for it. If the tool was there, it would help them reduce costs, and save lives. They noted benefits for disaster recovery efforts, too.

The Pentagon isn't proposing the military build this thing, nor have any part in controlling. They were looking at national security, and concluded that hydrocarbon sources of power are a serious threat to U.S. security/economic viability. Their findings and recommendations are, simply, that Space Based Solar Power is prudent, pragmatic, and necessary.

They noted, that fostering socioeconomic stability internationally, reduces the "need" for such a large military. If other countries are linked to us via trade relations, and they have money to support their own regional security AND grow their economic infrastructures, we are more secure.

It's absolutely clear that Space Based Solar Power is pragmatic and feasible. You are absolutely right - the big roadblocks ARE really only social and political.

I submitted Criswell's proposal to my congresswoman, who was on the energy committee at the time. This was in 2002. The response I got was that the system had merit, but congress needed to do something NOW (that year), and there were more immediate solutions available that would do the trick.

We see how that's worked out, ten years on.

The problem of human influence on climate change has to be addressed via politics, hence, social awareness - and activism - is key; as you so rightly observe.

BTW, I loved your statement: "At this rate the program will get off the ground at approximately the same time that the sun swells to encompass the earth." That's one of the most clever and sophisticated retorts I've ever seen. I still chuckle every time I think of that.

You're a great writer.
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  #45  
Old 11-20-2012, 12:54 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicago Stonepro View Post
Actually, there's been progress - mostly on privatization of launch system development. Scuttling the Shuttle program basically killed our Low Earth Orbit capabilities, which could have been leveraged while the private firms came up to speed. You'd have put the onus on Charlie Bolden about that one. He seems to suffer from a vision deficit. The Administration basically followed his uninspired lead.
I think you're putting far too much blame on Bolden. The end of the Shuttle Program was started by Bush. Shuttle was set to retire before the Constellation Program had launch capability. That was W.

Further added to that was the Columbia accident and the reassessment of the safety of the Shuttle Program. The risks were higher than previously assumed.

Bolden is stuck in the unenviable position of executing a plan put in place by the President - first the plan put in motion by Bush, and as adapted by Obama, but ultimately - and this is the key - the plan as funded and directed by Congress. Congress sets the national budget - they take the President's recommendations, but they bleed all over it and hack it to bits and reassemble it into a Rube Goldberg of their own making. NASA's budget is down. FY 2013 (what they are debating right now) at best it will be flat with 2012, and that is if we manage to avoid the fiscal cliff looming over the country. The partisanship in Congress is such a disaster right now I am not convinced they will pull their heads out of each others' asses and find a solution. Anyway, the 2012 budget was down from 2011. Bolden has to make do with the funding he's given, and make hard tradeoffs with the money approved.

Quote:
No matter what we do next, NASA needs to work from Low Earth Orbit. Cutting the manned LEO programs was akin to plowing your corn under before you ran the combines through, to save on operating costs. It'll cost us about five times more to reconstitute LEO capability, rather than scaling back and carrying some of it forward.
While I lament the loss of an operational launch system before a replacement system is in place, I cannot agree that terminating the Shuttle hampers our ability to build the next system. Commercial systems are already in work - SpaceX is well along. The money just isn't there for operating the bloated beast of Shuttle while trying to build the next launch system.

If the nation could afford it, then it would have been better from a different aspect. The risk is the loss of personnel who know operations while a new system is in design phase. It's certainly not helping the economic recovery in Houston (and likely Florida) to have Shuttle ramp down and lay off.

We're fortunate that we do have the ability to rely on the Russians for human space access during our own launch capability gap. Between the Russian Soyuz and Progress, and ESA (ATV), Japan (HTV), and now SpaceX (Dragon), we've got continued support to keep Americans in LEO on ISS.

We will weather the storm, and America's space access will be stronger and more diverse as a result. We just have to get through the pain of transition.
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  #46  
Old 11-20-2012, 01:06 PM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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Originally Posted by gamerunknown View Post
Such a project would likely require international cooperation, which would not be likely given military overtures of the project (China and Russia would dissent, most likely).
Technically and financially, the USA could do this alone. There's plenty of money and expertise to be had with public/private partnership. The business case is only weak to the extent taxpayer dollars continue to overly subsidize hydrocarbon and nuclear, actual costs to environment and society are absent from balance sheets, and the hydrocarbon reserves aren't overly depleted.

All the big energy players are looking ahead, but as long as there's milk, they'll protect their cow.

That's not a bad thing, but the lack of honest disclosure regarding taxpayer subsidies is warping our understanding of the actual costs involved.

As to consent/dissent, that's a non-issue.

My personal concern is that China can't build power capacity fast enough to stay on top of it's economic development - and according to Henry Kissinger, they have to move 300 million people from the countryside into cities. China is working with Russia on nuclear power. They have stated plans for the moon, and the arc of their space program development has taken everyone by surprise. If they team up with Russia, that cooperation could put those two countries together on the moon, building a Lunar Solar Power system, ahead of anyone else.

Forget weapons of war. Try negotiating for energy rates with someone who needs/wants a competitive advantage over you, who has a monopoly on the cheapest source of power available.

Who's dissenting then?
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  #47  
Old 11-20-2012, 01:19 PM
zwiebelspaetzle zwiebelspaetzle is offline
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Tidal Generators

Cecil said "if big if tidal generators were ever built." Perhaps he didn't research that line to Straight Dope standards. The Rance Tidal Power Station in France has been operating since 1966 and generates approximately 540 GWh annually. Wikipedia lists 7 operating tidal power stations, with 9 more under construction or proposed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rance_Tidal_Power_Station
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...power_stations
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  #48  
Old 11-20-2012, 01:45 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicago Stonepro View Post
BTW, I loved your statement: "At this rate the program will get off the ground at approximately the same time that the sun swells to encompass the earth." That's one of the most clever and sophisticated retorts I've ever seen. I still chuckle every time I think of that.

You're a great writer.
Thank you. I can always take a compliment.

There's an excellent article in today's NY Times Vetoing Business as Usual After the Storm.
Quote:
So the problem is not technological or, from a long-term cost-benefit perspective, financial.

But more difficult still will be staring down the pain, dislocation and inequity that promise to upend lives, undo communities and shake assumptions about city life and society. More than requiring the untangling of colossal red tape, saving New York and the whole region for the centuries ahead will become a test of civic unity.
This is a case where the dangers are obvious and within everyone's memory, where the science is sound and established, where working measures are in place elsewhere and don't need new technologies to be invented, and where the political establishment is generally favorable. And even after last year's disaster, it's taken a second disaster to get doing something just to the talking about stage.

I come at this from an unusual place. I have social science training but I'm also a science fiction writer who knows people for whom Big Tech is a profession and an obsession. (Jerry Pournelle still talks about putting the Star Wars system into place.) I'm trying to combine both sides by researching how the public responded to these big plans about the future across the 20th century. They embrace some even when they seem ridiculous and shun others which might have huge benefits. This is one of the latter. That's only my opinion, obviously, but I was right about Romney so I'm on a prediction high.
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Old 11-20-2012, 02:46 PM
Chicago Stonepro Chicago Stonepro is offline
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I think you're putting far too much blame on Bolden. The end of the Shuttle Program was started by Bush. Shuttle was set to retire before the Constellation Program had launch capability. That was W.
Obama didn't set the vision for NASA, and evaluate NASA's contributions in light of the financial circumstances of the country. Bolden did that. Bolden came up with Obama's plan for NASA.

As such, Bolden's vision and leadership was roundly criticized by the likes of Gene Krantz, Neil Armstrong, Kris Kraft, Jim Lovell, Eugene Cernan, and 21 other respected space professionals.

Quote:
Further added to that was the Columbia accident and the reassessment of the safety of the Shuttle Program. The risks were higher than previously assumed.
I watched a number of shuttle launches and ISS dockings live, via NASA TV. They changed their launch condition criteria, adopted on-orbit heat shield inspection and repair procedures. The Colombia accident was tragic, but the circumstance that created it was completely mitigated. Not a reason to discontinue the program.

Quote:
Bolden is stuck in the unenviable position of executing a plan put in place by the President - first the plan put in motion by Bush, and as adapted by Obama, but ultimately - and this is the key - the plan as funded and directed by Congress. -snip- Bolden has to make do with the funding he's given, and make hard tradeoffs with the money approved.
Bolden wasn't compelled to adopt a previous president's plan. That's not how it works. He was compelled to do his own review, make his own plan, present it to the president. The Constellation program was bloated, and the problem was there was not a unifying vision based on a tangible, time targeted main goal.

The way this went down doesn't smell right.


Quote:
...I cannot agree that terminating the Shuttle hampers our ability to build the next system. Commercial systems are already in work - SpaceX is well along. The money just isn't there for operating the bloated beast of Shuttle while trying to build the next launch system.
Shuttle program, ramped down to minimum launches to support the ISS, was 2 Billion/year. Hardly a bloated beast. As you later mentioned, thousands of jobs were lost, and the economy took a hit.

Not mentioned, is the fact that much of the science planned for the International Space Station was only possible because of the Shuttle cargo bay, and the ability to return experimental modules and samples to earth in a glider's bay. In addition, at this point, the ISS has no backup ammonia coolant pump, because the spare they sent up before the end of the program, had to be installed already. Without that pump, there's no life support system. There were two planned launches, and no room or time in the manifest to deliver a proven spare.

So, to save the budget 2 billion/year, we destroyed thousands of jobs, lost vast institutional memory of safe space systems operation, shut down hundreds of science experiments, now spend over 50 million per seat for our astronauts to ride the soyuz, guarantee that the next phase of our space program will cost taxpayers about five times what we cut, AND put a 10 trillion dollar investment at risk because the next time the cooling pump goes down, we'll have to abandon the ISS, and dump it into the Pacific Ocean.

In reality we actually could afford the shuttle program.

Also, the shuttles were designed for a lifetime of 100 missions each. None of them were anything close to that.

As for the private space contractors, all that was already in the works before Bolden became administrator.
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  #50  
Old 11-20-2012, 09:23 PM
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Why it never won an Emmy is beyond me.
I suspect that might be because it wasn't on television.

You may thinking of Hugo or Grammy.


Powers &8^]
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