Re: SPACE: Re: Is the ISS a boondogle?

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Thu Mar 22 2001 - 18:44:32 MST

On Thu, 22 Mar 2001, Michael Lorrey wrote:

> ARRGGGGHHHHHH. RObert!!!! I understand the concern about thrust, but
> pounds of thrust is really irrelevant. Its specific impulse and kilowatt
> hours that matters. Slow and steady wins the race.

Hmmm, I would prefer an asteroid first (perhaps one of low density
that might be a burned out comet). I'm not positive but I think
in general comets have higher velocities. So they may be harder
to get to than NEOs. The trick is to find the NEOs whose orbits
are in resonance with ours so you have periodic short-flight
opportunities (like we do with Mars). Then you can shuttle back
and forth between the asteroid and the ISS (with your harvested
materials) [like the fuel they need to boost the orbit].

There is no way a 10-100 kg satellite is going to be able
to navigate a big comet/asteroid back to orbit around the
Earth. The trick is to figure out how to get the exponential
growth going *without* waving the magic wand of nanotech.

> THe other option is to go straight to the asteroid with a 10 kg
> replicator that has 2 kg worth of solar cells (included). The replicator
> is programmed to construct tiny mass accelerators with solar panels all
> over the surface, all interlinked in a neural network.

It isn't clear to me whether we are going to be able to do "micro"
scale replicators anytime soon. I've yet to be introduced to
an individual like Eli who understands ME sufficiently that they
can design self-replicating MEMS scale 'factories'. It isn't
stamping out the parts that is the problem so much as the
self-assembly. Divide & conquer as they say. Let the materials
brought back to ISS pay for the semi-automated macro-scale
Asteroid Robotic Harvester assembler to be installed on the ISS.
I'm sure you could design one of these and have it fit in one
of those Italian Moving Vans they've designed for shuttling
back and forth.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:59:42 MDT