Re: CONC^4 Re: "NASA Ends Project Intended to Replace Shuttle"

From: Michael M. Butler (
Date: Sun Mar 04 2001 - 19:47:24 MST

Adrian Tymes wrote:
> Devil's advocate: so, how do you keep your legos from exploding and
> showering junk all over mine? Also, how do you get your system up and
> running before you have the transmitter/receiver pointed the right way
> and powered up? (Aside from being there, but it'll probably be less
> than 10% of humanity, even industrialized humanity, that gets a chance
> to be up there in the next few decades even if space colonization is
> wildly successful.)

I don't understand these objections.

Perhaps I lack sufficient context. Devil away, but tell me what you are

_I'm_ envisioning plug-compatible self-knowledgeable components that
function a bit like USB devices; they can communicate tuples that inform
other connected components, e.g. "I'm the moment arm processor. When you
connect, tell me your relative CG and location, and if you have any
internal components I should know about." Time for another run at the
"embodied object"/"software IC" merger.

I am thinking in terms of using these thing in the early phases of
prospecting and site grooming. I would think that it could eventually
lead to standard configurations that could be FAA type approved for
personal telespacefaring. Or if tech progresses fast enough, to von
Neumann adjuncts, or even drop the "tele"... :)

That last is a mighty big if, but indicates the kind of generality I'm

I keep my LEGOs from exploding by not building them in such a way that
they tend to explode. How many AMSATs have exploded? Initially, at
least, I am not talking about shipping a bunch of units up to
self-assemble. I am talking about being able to put a single spacefaring
device together that is small and made of LEGO-like standard parts.

Tangentially: Have you heard about the Delta upper stage embarrassments
of a few years ago? They used to leave them parked with propellant dregs
still in the tanks. After x thousand hot/cold soak cycles, boom. _Not_

> "Michael M. Butler" wrote:
> >
> > Yes yes yes yes.
> >
> > Spitballing: I'd like to co-opt some of the energy from AMSAT and the
> > LEGO Mindstorms types. Imagine a space-rated set of Mindstorms-like
> > components for power, thermal management, horizon finding, moment
> > analysis and attitude control, apogee kick, sensing, telemetry. Open
> > source firmware, of course.
> >
> > Mike
> >
> > Greg said:
> >
> > > What's missing is a unifying vision for creating a space infrastructure that
> > > isn't so completely dependent on NASA and doesn't require the unreliable
> > > support of a political world that has no appreciation for the enterprise of
> > > moving beyond this one planet. In this regard, designing and building some
> > > basic building blocks for creating space infrastructure out of very small and
> > > light elements should be a high priority, as well as developing reliable and
> > > robust self-assembling systems.

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