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

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Wed Mar 25 01:56:10 UTC 2009

On Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 12:31 PM, Jeff Davis <jrd1415 at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 8:14 AM, Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com> wrote:
>> We don't have teleporated robots of this sort,
> Spirit and Opportunity.  Give 'em general purpose manipulators (ie hands).

Ok, and then what do you do with the hands?

>> not to mention the
>> speed of light delay problem.
> Three seconds.  Makes things interesting.  Hardly a show stopper.
>>  But if we did an they were there, what
>> are you going to *do* with them?
> I don't want to be rude, but aren't you being just a bit obstinate?
> I'm good with the notion that as a real, accomplished engineering
> professional, you feel compelled to thresh this recreational futurism
> with a reality-based flail, but could you try to be a bit more
> supportive.

If this is about "recreational futurism" and unrelated to reality I
should quit responding and try to find another mailing list.  I
recently dropped off a list for that reason.

>> You can't just say ":mine the moon,"
> "Mine the moon."    Hmmmm.  That wasn't very hard.
>> the moon is effectively dirt.
> As is the Earth.

Look I have worked all over the engineering profession, exploration,
mining, extractive metallurgy, i.e., milling ore and extracting
metals, copper and aluminum smelters, and oil refining to name a few.
We DON'T mine dirt.  Geological processes have concentrated metals.
We mine copper down to about half a percent because it is so useful
and the energy needed to concentrate it is relatively small.  (The
main power draw is the ball mills and they draw in the range of a 10

With lunar materials you might substitute aluminum for the conductors
and fiberglass for PVC insulation.  But that means you have to reduce
aluminum and draw it into wires.  I have a decent understanding of the
wet chemistry needed to produced reasonably pure aluminum oxide from
"dirt."  You have to recycle the reagents especially the water.

Then you have to reduce the aluminum.  All the processes new and old
use up carbon.  Since there is virtually none on the moon, you have to
recycle carbon oxides back into solid carbon.  I know how to do that
as well.

But we are already talking mind boggling complications, a chemical
plant with more complexity than an oil refinery and a set of weaving
machines to insulate the wire.

>But as Freitas lays out in KSRM
> "Perhaps the most important message of the Fallacy of the Substrate is
> that the replicative capacity of a replicator cannot be defined by
> specifying the replicator in isolation from its surroundings.
> Replicative capacity can only be defined by simultaneously specifying
> both the replicator and the input substrate upon which the replicator
> will be required to operate."

Does this tell you anything useful?  If so, what?

> Lunar Regolith Simulant Materials Workshop
> http://est.msfc.nasa.gov/workshops/lrsm2005_program.html

Read though a bunch of them.  No serious progress I can see since the
late 70s.  These people are not making stuff useful to making more

>>  What chemical processes are you going
>> to use?  What is power budget?  How are you going to make parts?
> See above.  Your objections seem more about obstinacy than genuine obstacles.
> I have tremendous respect for you, but continue to hope for more
> constructve inputs.

> Best, Jeff Davis
> "We're a band of higher primates stuck on the surface
> of an atmosphere-hazed dirtball. I can associate with
> that. I certainly can't identify with which patch of the dirtball I
> currently happen to be on, and which monkey tribe happens to reside
> therein.

I have given a lot of thought to Easter Island.  The descendants of
the 20 people who landed there were doomed.  If an immortal with all
the knowledge of today had been among them, could he have prevented
the disaster that befell those people?  The environment was much
easier to work with than the moon.  The population peaked out at about
20,000 before falling to perhaps1000.  If you can propose a technical
path to get the historical Easter Islanders out of their mess, I would
be most interested.  It's less hard than trying to build up an
industry on the moon.


> Only by taking the big view we can make it a common
> dream, and then a reality. It's worth it."
>                              Eugen Leitl
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