[ExI] Power sats and the industrial development of space (was global waming again)

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Tue Mar 24 02:40:39 UTC 2009

On Mon, Mar 23, 2009 at 2:21 PM, Jeff Davis <jrd1415 at gmail.com> wrote:
> I find much of his discussion frustrating.  As an almost-engineer I
> place a high value on elegant design.  By elegant I mean simple,
> efficient, clever or novel or both, seemingly obvious but only after
> the fact, and almost always beautiful.  Because (to my tastes) they
> satisfy none of these criteria, the space elevator and the Orion
> concept are repugnant to me.

I consider the moving cable space elevator elegant.  It uses the least
possible amount of power to lift payload to GEO.  But I don't think
you are likely to see either an elevator or an Orion before the
singularity.  We lack the cable for the elevator and firing 1000 bombs
in the atmosphere before we get cell repair devices seems unlikely.

> The solar sat idea -- precursor to the Dyson sphere -- on the other
> hand, I find quite thrilling.  I would like to suggest -- and I'm
> certain others will quickly advise me that this suggestion is both
> obvious and "ancient" (I make no claim to originality here)-- that the
> two challenges: escape from Earth's gravity well, and the solar sat
> provision of abundant, clean, and economical energy, be decoupled.  I
> would like to see a cost comparison for a solar sat program where the
> sats don't come from earth, but either directly from the moon, or from
> the moon to a facility at one of the Lagrange points, and thence to
> the operating location wherever that may finally be.  Such a
> calculation would necessarily have to take into account that both the
> Lunar base and the Lagrange facility would have many uses beyond the
> provision of solar sats, so that the overall cost need not be assigned
> completely to the solar sat aspect of their operation.

You are advocating Gerry O'Neill's space colony program.  It didn't
get support back in the 70s and I don't see where things have changed.
 Understand that I am still an advocate of ET materials, but I don't
see them being used for the first power sats.

> If I could start the ball rolling,... In no time at all, we could put
> a hundred (thousand ?) human workers on the moon and have them
> diligently building the first lunar base, if the humans were remote
> bot operators performing their moon work by tele-operation.  I imagine
> bots the size of a hamster.  Accompanied by the appropriate inventory
> of tools, only a bare minimum of "vitamins" (per Freitas) would need
> to come from earth.  The hard stuff -- autonomous operation or closure
> -- would not be an issue, this not, repeat not, self-replication.  And
> since the bots operators would not be "locals", operator labor costs
> would be low, zero, or even negative.  "What?", you say.  "Negative,
> as in they pay for the privilege to work on this project?"  Yes.
> Either for the thrill of it, or for an equity stake.  Simply stated:
> How much would you pay for the chance to operate a moon bot AND AT THE
> SAME TIME earn an equity stake in economic paradigm-altering venture?

You need to put numbers on your proposal.  I have stated that I will
jump ship from my proposals to any other proposal that holds up to a
physical and economical analysis, particularly if it gets very large
scale energy return sooner.

But since you have not put any number except "thousands" let's
consider the cost.

It's going to take at least ten tons of stuff landed on the moon for
materials and living space per person.  For a thousand people, that's
ten thousand tons, or 10 million kg.  If you try to do this with
current rockets, and taking the cost to the moon as the same as to
GEO, that' $20,000/kg x 10 million kg or $200 billion just for
transport cost.

I have seen a recent estimate for setting up mining and materials
processing on the moon.  The number was $2000 billion.

This is not a reasonable number.


> I'm in my "happy place" now!
> How bout chew?
> Best, Jeff Davis
>              "You are what you think."
>                             Jeff Davis
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