Re: SPACE: Beyond Apollo (was: a to-do list for the next century)

From: Robert Bradbury (
Date: Sat Apr 01 2000 - 18:08:05 MST

On Sat, 1 Apr 2000 wrote:

> I agree, and the "GNR technologies" (to borrow Bill Joy's term) are
> the key to solving this problem, as well as the CAtS
> (Cheap Access to Space) problem.
> so genetic engineering, nanotechnology and robotics will create the
> background and tool-set for really exploiting the resources of the
> solar system. The truth is that 20th century technology just wasn't
> up to the job. Mid-21st century technology will be.

In reading Greg's post, and feeling the way he does (as a "child of
the Apollo era"), I agree *in emotional wishing*, however, I am forced
to reconcile dreams of cur-humans with realities of post-humans.

In a nutshell, Dyson picked the wrong planet. Disassembling Jupiter
is an "afterthought" of the coming era. There *is* an optimal way
to harvest the energy and matter of our solar system, and one
meritable goal of the human race sould be to harvest it as quickly
and efficently as possible. Why? Simply because the computational
power derived from this effort would "save" the greatest number of
existing humans. The net result of my analysis to date on this
indicates that some combination of Mercury, Venus, the asteroids
and perhaps the Moon and/or Mars can be theoretically reorganized
on timescales on the order of approximately *1* year. Now material
resources may make the theoretical limits unattainable, but the real
limits should not be orders of magnitudes away from the theoretical

So, if you have self-replicating programmable machines (even without
*true* molecular nanoassembly!), then "exploration" of the solar
system, as envisioned by many science fiction writers is a pipe dream.
[Why explore it when you can build something useful out of it?]
To argue in support of the goal of exploration over the goal of
building sufficient computational capacity as rapidly as possible
[to hold uploads and backup copies], is in my opinion unconscionable.

Because the technologies for CAtS develop at the same time as those
that allow morphing the solar system into something much more useful,
I would argue that "exploration" by individuals, as was done in
the Apollo missions, is unlikely to ever occur again. If you
want to do it, there will be VR simulators for it!

Note, that I do feel there is an argument for a "humanity backup".
In essence, this would be a sustainable human breeding colony and
"the library of congress" at an off-earth site, to counter the
small probability of a near earth astroid sterilizing the planet.
However, current Missions-to-Mars (Mars-Direct) efforts, *are not*
directed at creating this before GNR development can reasonably
be anticipated, and so are, IMO, relatively worthless.


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