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Low cost lunar and asteroidal lander prospector missions.

Posted by: RGClark - Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:07 pm
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Low cost lunar and asteroidal lander prospector missions. 
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Space Station Commander
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Post Re: Low cost lunar and asteroidal lander prospector missions.   Posted on: Sun Jun 10, 2012 3:15 am
box wrote:
Though they will be the ones to fall if there is no market or if the whole enterprise is just physically impossible.


The "first-mover advantage", sometimes pays off, but sometimes not. The first explorations and colonies of N. America didn't turn out so well.

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I love robots, but if we leave everything for robots to do, we will be seriously bored in a very short amount of time.


Its not about efficiency or even optional. Right now, with near-term (our lifetimes) technology, the only practical way of conducting exo-terrestrial resource extraction that is economically tolerable is via remote systems. Most of the technology required already exists in other applications.

At some point there will be enough resources, and the technology to support human presence and living, which will be necessary beyond about 1 AU from Earth, but that is a ways off, probably the "2nd generation" of space utilization.

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I want to leave this planet behind in a better condition compared to when I got here. At least that is what I want to work for. I seriously believe that the technologies needed for living off world, and with moving the industries off world, we could potentially lead us to a situation when instead of depleting our biosphere, we will start replenishing it, and still support a large population in a comfortable and meaningful lifestyle.


Then you are in for a disappointment. Space is not the answer to the problems on Earth. From a resource extraction and goods production stand-point, space-based will never be able to compete with terrestrial, even if you have to go to the bottom of the Marianas Trench to get them. The costs are just to dissimilar.

Space mining and manufacturing is the means for extending mankind's presence into space. "Living off the land" so to speak, and building a solar-system economy. But to try to plug Earth into a plan is just wishful thinking. The physics gets in the way.

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There is plenty of materials, there is plenty of energy, what we don't have is the will, and subsequently the technology to access them. I am trying to solve the lack of will problem at the moment with freespaceships. Still trying to figure out why we have such a huge deficit of will, interest, and cooperation. There has to be a solution! :)


Its a momentum problem. Like a catch 22. There are plenty of resources there, but its very expensive up front to get to them, and then very expensive to return them, which makes it hard to justify to pragmatic investors, not to mention a public.

One of two things has to occur before your ideas become practical:

a )Improvements in propulsion and/or materials tech which reduces the costs and risks of space travel by an order of magnitude. Successfully reverse engineering an alien spacecraft would do nicely.

b )Things get very VERY bad down here which motivates people to devote the resources to either find the above technologies, or else do it the brute force way with the crude junk we have now. Most of the waves of emigration to the Americas and Australia came because those people were either persecuted or fleeing famine and strife.

"A" takes time, probably more time than you or I have, and we probably do not want to think about "B". We definitely wouldn't enjoy it.

I'm not trying to extinguish your enthusiasm, just give you a dousing of cold reality. :wink:


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Space Walker
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Post Re: Low cost lunar and asteroidal lander prospector missions.   Posted on: Sun Jun 10, 2012 5:20 am
JamesG wrote:
Then you are in for a disappointment. Space is not the answer to the problems on Earth. From a resource extraction and goods production stand-point, space-based will never be able to compete with terrestrial, even if you have to go to the bottom of the Marianas Trench to get them. The costs are just to dissimilar.


I probably wasn't clear enough. I am hoping that space exploration could be a drive for the technological developments we need to get out of the current mess we have around us.

Basically I follow the "thinking our way out of bad situations" crowd. That is our sole evolutionary advantage, we seem to be pretty good at it, and we are getting better.

I don't want to produce food in space, but the technology needed to produce food in space can be used down here in harsher environments like open oceans, deserts, mountain tops, heck even the arctic.

That is if we need more food to feed our population. I do think we also need to tweak our population size, probably reduce it to a lower level on the long term. But in the meantime we need to free up human capital from food production so we can have more people working on science. :)

But if it's not food we need, we can use the same biotechnology to produce fuel, produce medicines, fix carbon just to counter our input to the atmosphere, or produce other consumer products, handle pollution, improve the health of the ecosystems that are integrated part of the systems our society depends on.

But I do agree I will probably will need to face a whole truckload of disappointments along the way. I have no doubt about that. I also believe that the road is littered with failure and hurdles I can't see at the moment. But I plan to deal with all of that as I go along. Hopefully I won't have to walk the road alone.

Quote:
I'm not trying to extinguish your enthusiasm, just give you a dousing of cold reality. :wink:


I like to talk about these things and I crave for criticism and input. There is no other way to learn or solve problems, but to put your ideas to the test and get feedback.

At the moment this is the only way I can test my ideas, I don't have money to actually invest into relevant projects yet. I am working on that, probably will start up a company at some point in the near future. I am planning to start within the environmental industry /thats where I work at the moment, it makes the most sense/, and plan to branch out to farming and food production, and then hopefully if it is successful we can branch out into operations in space utilising our already gathered knowledge, expertise, and piled up capital. If all goes well that is. :)

I try and take in, digest and incorporate every piece of information I can get my hands on and improve my thinking, the knowledge I have of the problems, and the possible solutions I have for them at any given time.

Just to get back to perceptions:
We already use microbes to digest lactose in milk to produce yoghurt. We also use them to digest starches and produce alcoholic beverages. We use them to make fluffy bread. We use the extra yeast from beer production in all sorts of different foods, vegemite, or just additives in "reclaimed" meat products.

The food we eat in most of the cases are so processed they have pretty much nothing to do with the natural animal or plant products. People are fairly lazy in this department in western society. Not only that most of us don't even look on the label to see what's in it.

And to top that off we already have meat subsitute products on the market like Quorn http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quorn that seem to be doing quite well amongst vegetarians. I am not vegetarian and I like them a lot. :) Though my enthusiasm stems from my love for sci-fi, and just science in general. :)

And check what they are working on in Japan:
http://www.digitaltrends.com/international/japanese-scientists-creates-meat-out-of-feces/

It isn't really feces, the bacteria already ate the feces, but the point is that they are trying to change that bacterial mass back into edible food.
I find the idea repulsive myself because of the mental image I have in my head of eating feces. But at the same time I know that is only a perception I have, and it probably can be changed.

However compared to that I think it would be way easier to convince people to eat bacteria/fungi digested grass products, than bacteria/fungi digested feces products, despite the fact that neither is really any different in terms of biological processes. I mean both is about braking down and then rebuilding organic molecules. The origin is irrelevant.

Also I think for a short loop closed ecosystem we will need to return our waste products to the primary producers /agricultural land/ instead of keeping it in a tight loop and getting extra rounds out of them. Though I can see uses for that in very tough situations when you cannot wait or afford to have a slower larger loop to recycle matter.

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