[ExI] Power satellites (was:MIT boffins crack fusion plasma snag)

John K Clark jonkc at bellsouth.net
Tue Dec 16 17:38:09 UTC 2008

"hkhenson" <hkhenson at rogers.com>

> CW solid state welding lasers you can buy *today* at $10/watt.

A solid state Laser at that price? I'm not saying it's untrue but to me that
price seems pretty low even for a CO2 Laser. I'd be interested where you got
that figure.

> They could have built a fly back stage [for the space shuttle] with F1
> engines but they didn't.

F1 engines were never designed to be reusable. And I think if the original
design with the manned fly back stage had been built the Space Shuttle would
have been an even bigger boondoggle than it is. Each launch vehicle would
have been even more expensive and complex, it would take even more time
between turnaround flights, and there would be 2 different manned crews per
flight with twice the probability of a catastrophe resulting in a multi year
shutdown in the entire program.

> it was going to be bad from the point they picked solid rockets.

In retrospect I think the Space Shuttle was doomed to failure the instant
they insisted it be manned when there was no scientific, military, or
economic reason to do so. They wanted people on it because they thought it
would be better public relations, but even that didn't work. People have
been going to low Earth orbit for nearly half a century and it just doesn't
have the WOW factor for the taxpayers that it once had.

> There are times, and this is one of them, that just building the whole
> thing is less expensive than trying it small.  The physics of power sats
> just does not work trying to do it small.

That was exactly my original point, and if you and I are right about that
and it's just in the nature of power satellites that you can't build a
realistic small prototype then they will never be built; or at least not
built before the Singularity, after that all bets are off.

> What assumptions do you want to use?

I assume power satellites are physically possible. I do not assume they make
economic or environmental sense; and if you really can't know if the idea is
any good until you've built the entire astronomically expensive thing then
it makes no political sense either.

 John K Clark

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