Re: SPACE: Beyond Apollo

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Fri Apr 14 2000 - 10:26:38 MDT

On Sunday, April 02, 2000 5:53 PM Greg Burch wrote:
> You're right, Daniel, that people in general lost interest in visionary
> technological programs and, for years I thought that was the only reason
> that "the space program" ran aground in the 1970s. But I've come to a
> different conclusion now. The truth is that space didn't pay and with
20th century
> technology it never could. I've yet to see a good economic justification
> for the kind of truly massive public spending required to do anything
> of LEO with that kind of technology and, believe me, I WANT to see such a
> thing.

LEO is a start. (Actually GEO appears to be where a lot of money is for
commercial satelites.) I think if the government space programs were shut
down and private launch companies used exclusively, we'd see a lot of action
in LEO leading to action higher up. My guess would also be that this would
build a true infrastructure for space colonization, rather than the rickety
one NASA has built, abandoned, and rebuilt.

> > Though I agree GNR will help make CAtS better, if we just took that old
> > Saturn V design, which, if I'm right, is now unpatented, we could be
> > disposable launch vehicles that could put huge cargoes in orbit NOW!
> > be using a proven technology.
> I'm no rocket scientist (but I play one when I take people down to MSC for
> a
> tour), but I think simply reproducing the Saturn V would get you nowhere
> fast. It was designed on the premise of non-reusability and LOTS of
> public
> money. I think you agree that that design philosophy is NOT the way to
> go.

I DISAGREE! The problem is not reusable vs. non-reusable. The fact that
people think in those terms only shows how much this locks up the space
mindset. Reusable rockets, like the Shuttle, have actually increased launch
costs, according to David P. Gump in his _Space Enterprise: Beyond NASA_.
(I would also add that NASA's labor intensive approach to running the show
also increases costs. And remember, too, that those solid rocket boosters
(SRBs) have to be recovered and refurbished at a huge price.)

> > The model we should be focusing on is open systems and looking for ways
> > get resources to pump into them cheaply. This way, we don't need to do
> > kinds of fancy development, testing, and extensive monitoring after
> > deployment. I'd rather have spare air tanks than rely on an intricate
> > ecosystem to keep me breathing. (Surely, one could have both, but I
> > all of you get my point.:)
> Daniel, if you're going to ask Earth to support an extraterrestrial
> I think you have to come up with an economic rationale. I'm waiting . . .

I'm not thinking that way, but I thought I answered this elsewhere.

Daniel Ust

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