Re: from 6 billion to 500 million: how? (was RE: true abundance?)

From: Chris Russo (
Date: Wed Jan 31 2001 - 07:55:55 MST

>In short--it ain't in the near-term cards.
>You can show a 90% cost reduction, maybe someone will be interested,
>maybe not.

There was a very good Scientific American last year where they
discussed various strategies under development that would lower the
per Kg costs of getting payloads to space by orders of magnitude.
Sorry, I don't have a reference to the issue.

One of the most interesting technologies was a ground based laser
that would fire up into the launch vehicle, super-heating the air
until it was able to explosively propel the vehicle up up up. They
had working models and were gradually getting the things to go higher
and higher.

I'm reminded of the Internet. Back in the late 80's, I was using the
Internet at college for emailing friends in Europe, playing MUDs,
downloading software, etc. I thought it was the greatest thing, and
one of my biggest regrets was that I wouldn't have access to it after
I graduated. I worked for the IT department at school and I knew
that it cost the school tens of thousands of dollars a month to have
that connection. I just couldn't imagine how the economies of scale
would ever allow me to have my own personal Internet connection.

In less than a decade, as we all know, corporate interests in the
Internet changed everything. What used to seem impossible is now

I think that the same thing will happen with the space industry.
Some people will keep chipping away at technologies to get us into
space cheaper and cheaper. Then, one day, some corporation will find
a way to exploit something in space for a profit - maybe weightless
fabrication, or mining asteroids, or something not yet imagined (as
the web was not yet imagined in the late 80's). From there, you'll
see this corporate explosion into space, and economies of scale will
make it so affordable that even private citizens of modest means will
be able to take advantage of it.

As with the Internet - in a decade or two our whole world will have
changed. You'll look back and wonder how we ever got by without
affordable space travel.


Chris Russo

"If anyone can show me, and prove to me, that I am wrong in thought 
or deed, I will gladly change.  I seek the truth, which never yet 
hurt anybody.  It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance 
which does harm."
              -- Marcus Aurelius, MEDITATIONS, VI, 21

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