[ExI] Energy options

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Wed Mar 23 00:14:01 UTC 2011

On Tue, Mar 22, 2011 at 4:12 PM, Mirco Romanato <painlord2k at libero.it> wrote:
> Il 22/03/2011 17.45, Adrian Tymes ha scritto:
>> The FBI is easily able to prevent anyone in the US from assembling
>> and launching a fission rocket, therefore the permission of its
>> controller (the US government) is relevant.
> Fission, conventional, yes.
> But it is unable to prevent people from building a machine gun, if they
> like to do so and know how to do so.

Perhaps.  But we're not talking about just building the thing.  To be
something that people would care about, you would have to use it -

By analogy, let's say you build that machine gun, then use it in
public.  (Analogies to hunting or private use fail: any rocket that is
launched into orbit will be seen by the authorities.)  What are the
odds that you'll still be able to use it in a month or two?

(There are in theory space programs that can be successful with just
one launch.  But in those cases, the payload needs far more attention
than the rocket - and if you're only launching once, plain old chemical
rockets become far more cost effective, because that's an entire R&D
program you don't have to do.)

Always remember your goal in such things.  Unless reduced launch
cost itself is the goal (in which case, you need to set it up for
repeated, long term reuse), launching something into space is at
most a step toward whatever goal you have.

>> Similar considerations apply in other countries, and in international
>> waters (depending on which nation you're flagged to; if you're
>> unflagged, the navies of many nations including the US are relevant,
>> and will deny you an ability to operate based primarily on your not
>> being flagged to any nation).
> Only if they are able to find you.

Active nuclear rockets in the Earth's atmosphere will be detected very
quickly.  (Note the "active", though.)  You would need to be long gone
from the launch site before the launch in order to not immediately be
found - and hope that those who would object, do not find the launch
site between you setting it up and the launch.  Do this more than once,
and those who would hunt this will get very good at knowing what to
look for.

> I always wonder, what if a very wealthy man (or group of men) build a
> submersible or submarine habitat, able to be moved around the open
> ocean. Do they would be able to find it? How much resources they would
> need and would they commit them? If they don't know about it beforehand,
> how they would discover it exist?

It is, in theory, possible.  It would be very very difficult, and the kind of
money needed would gain much more bang for their buck by doing things
in the open.  (Again: taking over certain third world nations and funding
nuclear launch development there would be cheaper.)

Look up the Seasteading Institute for some research into what would be
needed to set up a habitat on top of open waters.  Submersible stealth
operations would add on to that, but that is a good place to start.

>> It might be possible, from the "government permission" angle, to do
>> this from some third world country (such as most of those along the
>> equator) - though you would have extra logistical problems getting
>> fissionable materials there.
> The procurement of the fissionable materials is the big problem.
> Moving it to a Third World Country would be the easy part. Keeping it
> would be the hardest part.

All of which I lumped into "logistical problems".

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