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

Jeff Davis jrd1415 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 26 23:26:32 UTC 2009

On Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 7:56 PM, Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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?

Use the substantial tool set brought along to start working the
ground.  I understand that the lack of details is offensive, but I
have a special attitude regarding methods and goals.  The stated goal
is not the goal.  A succesful business model is overarching. So the
process is the goal.  If I could put a thousand teleoperate-able
robo-hamsters on the moon, I would operate them as a combination 21st
century Tom Sawyer fence-painting slash geek theme park,...if that
generates revenue,.. on the way to other goals.  Profitability is goal

>>> 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.

No need to dump the list, just ignore my silliness.

>>> 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 kWh/ton.)

Interestingly, we won't need any ball mills, so I guess that saves the
main power draw.  The entire process just took a great leap forward re
energy effciency.

More than 60% of the regolith is composed of particles less than 0.1
millimeter in diameter:


"The surface of the Moon has been subject to billions of years of
collisions with both small and large asteroidal and cometary
materials. Over time, these impact processes have pulverized and
"gardened" the surface materials, forming a fine grained layer termed
"regolith". The thickness of the regolith varies between 2 meters
beneath the younger maria, to up to 20 meters beneath the oldest
surfaces of the lunar highlands."


> 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.

I was under the impression that there are alternate methods of
refining, such as the pyrolitic technique described in this article

Robot, Build Thyself

> 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.

"Virtually none" = approx 100 ppm in the regolith, perhaps it can be
extracted at some stage in the larger refining process.

Also, from the utex link above we learn: "Although the exact
composition of the lunar interior is unknown,..."
Could there be other sources of carbon somewhere -- at some depth --
not yet discovered.  For a long time it was thought there was no
water.  Then it was found.  I'm thinking primordial 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?

The moon is not the earth.  Industrial processes and approaches must
reflect this reality.  My wife and I are fond of something we call the
Lemonade Principle.  When a plan goes awry, we immediately look to see
how this can be turned to our advantage: how can we make lemonade from
our lemons?  When we look at it this way we often discover substantial
benefits and opportunities.  Viewed this way, the moon should be a
case of virgin territory with substantial low-hanging fruit of various
types, and of course, the inevitable lemons.

Best, Jeff Davis

  "Everything's hard till you know how to do it."
                          Ray Charles

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