Re: Near-Term Scenarios -- Space

GBurch1 (
Sat, 23 May 1998 08:37:22 EDT

In a message dated 98-05-17 23:38:18 EDT, Paul Hughes wrote:

> > In the case of space tech, the astonishing number of serious private
> launching
> > ventures seem very likely to yield impressive advances in LEO and
> translunar
> > development before 2010
> By advancements here I'm assuming you mean cheaper access to space. What
> kind of
> $/kg costs are we looking at with these private ventures?

They all seem to be advertising that they will achieve the much-vaunted
$1,000/pound mark.

> > 2005 - 2015
> I think the development of space during this period, assuming we still
> have
> nanotech, will hinge largely on $/kg access costs to LEO. Assuming we can
> get
> costs down below $100/kg, the long-term payoff vs the initial costs of
> development
> will spur major private industry into space.

Yes, although I think we'll see a significant upward increase in developmental
trends and much synergy between specific projects at the $1,000/pound level
(what is that, $2,200/kg?). In particular, I think it very possible that the
LEO satellite fleets will create a market for fairly sophisticated telerobotic
servicing devices within ten years of Teledesic's deployment, i.e. at around

I think we will see very significant developments before the $100/kg and full-
blown assembler point, simply because micro-machine technology really does
provide real payoffs at the $1,000/pound level. The generation of sensors and
effectuators going into the pipeline now yield real improvements at this
level: Check out the size and capability of the very tiny video cameras aboard
the "New Millenium" series of probes and compare their functionality at 10% of
the weight of the previous generation.

> For many applications
> Teledesic
> will probably be replaced by much larger and more stable geostationary
> satellites
> offering enhanced and comprehensive global telecommunication services.

I think not: The relatively long light-speed latency inherent in GEO
installations puts them out of the running for most high-speed, real-time

> Near-
> Earth
> asteroid capture will become big business as the cost of capturing such
> objects
> will pale in comparison to the costs of transporting the same materials off
> Earth. This in turn will facilitate major improvements in space-based
> manufacturing, CELSS, space medicine, human-habitation-ergonomics.

Yes, but I think not until after the period we've been discussing. The first-
stage telerobotic infrastructure I envision developing in the 2010-2015 period
won't be capable of handling the entire chain of resource extraction and
manufacturing from asteroid to finished product.

> Obviously, once nanoengineered materials arrive on the scene, such space
> development will accelerate dramatically.

IMHO, it will take full-blown Drextech to make asteroid mining profitable and
this industry will develop within 25 to 50 years after that point.

Greg Burch <>----<>
Attorney ::: Director, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must
be driven into practice with courageous impatience."
-- Admiral Hyman G. Rickover