Date: Wed Feb 20 2002 - 11:41:41 MST
Mike Lorrey writes:
>> But are they higher than the current alternative -- i.e., sending out a
>> separate mission each time? I'm thinking here of cyclers to Mars
> Well, it's all a matter of whether you can afford the investment
> required to produce and put into the cycler orbit the infrastructure to
> truly make it an energy and mass saving venture. You gotta spend money
> to make it.
That is a recurring theme in space travel. If you have a space elevator,
e.g., you get a cheap way to orbit, but you have to build a space elevator
> At this point, you run into the welfare pols who think that 'the money
> is better spent here on earth' (as if the money is actually spent in
> space based malls or something) on 'human needs'.
As you might guess, I want total privatization of the space program -- i.e.,
the conventional libertarian position. I don't think Boeing, Rocketdyne,
NASA, etc. should have welfare either.
Sadly, that's not going to happen anytime soon...
> I was thinking of packaging pieces in a cushioning/bracing material
> which could be easily converted into fuel for spacecraft once in orbit.
> I hear that there is a form of a plasma engine that uses teflon or
> styrofoam for fuel, so maybe this isn't such a kooky idea.
It doesn't sound so, though I wonder about how efficient it would be...
What if the packaging material is stuff than can used for other applications
aside from propellant? Off the top of my head, how about blankets and
clothes as packing material?
> Having Alpha station up there and fully functional certainly is a very
> valuable asset for use as a staging base for assembly of bigger and more
> complex interplanetary missions.
Certainly. I'd like to see more and cheaper stations built, such as the
ones External Tanks, Inc. has proposed -- using the shuttles external tank
as the infrastructure. Currently, the tanks are just thrown away. Each one
is much bigger than Alpha is now.
> Having the ability to disassemble packed pods in orbit opens up the
> possibility of using the packaging concept to allow launch of equipment
> from less expensive, higher G launch mechanisms, like guns and rail
That too, though immediately it would mean not having to design stuff to
have to stand the rigors of less exotic launches in one piece. (I mean
launches using current launchers, such as Deltas, Arianes, Protons, and the
like.) It also allows for quality control in space and recovery and reuse
of damaged items. You would not longer have to fire and forget a damaged
satelite -- or where possible (which is rarely the case) bank on a costly
shuttle repair mission.
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