space exploration unshackled (was Re: SPACE: ISS (and Other) Thoughts)

From: Jeff Davis (
Date: Sun Oct 22 2000 - 14:30:58 MDT

Fellow voyagers on the starship Extroprize,

In the dense underbrush of technogeek arcanery, I ever more frequently
stumble across yet another development in robotics. The seeming spoor of
the x-y-z generations. In remote clearings of the urban jungle, beneath
the blinding klieg of tribal torches, I sit transfixed, and bear witness to
robot wars, the nativity ritual of a new fascination. Christined in a
shower of sparks, declared by a thud and scream of indignant metal,
swaddled in the intoxicating incense of combustion by-products, emerges the
promised one, the sacred Bot, and the dawn of the new age.

Last week, endeavoring as always to enhance my already rich fantasy life, I
sent a letter/proposal to MirCorp.

No matter whether they take me up on my 'proposal'. It works quite nicely
as an
e-business/adventure stand alone, with MirCorp providing a staging area,
and those surplus icbms I mentioned recently as the bargain basement boost
to their doorstep.

Here's the letter.


Walt Anderson - Vice Chairman,
Jeffrey Manber - President
Andrew Eddy - Senior VP - Business Development
Yuri P. Semenov - Chairman
Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria - Board Member
Valeri Ryumin - Board Member

You have ignited the flame. We shall not permit it to be extinguished; We
shall make every effort so that the greatest dream of mankind might be
                              -Oberth to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky -

I've been watching your Mircorp adventure unfold, and I'm frankly
fascinated and excited. I'd like to share with you some of my thoughts.

Have we reached a turning point in the evolution of human culture? Does
the successful privatization and commercialization of Mir mark the
transition from the old way to the new? Are we moving from the old
paradigm of Keynesian corporate military-industrial state, to a
free-market, space-exploring global society?

As the post-war generation, the baby boomers, reaches ascendancy, the
passing of generations brings with it a change of goals. Their parents'
life experiences, predominated by the economic depths of the great
depression and the wartime victory over fascism, spawned the post-war era
goals--prosperity and security--of that generation. Those goals have been
achieved, even as the generation which strived for them passes from the
scene. What then of new goals? The predominant influence of the post-war
era, the influence which made prosperity and security possible, has been
technology. Technological dynamism, technological capability, and
technological sophistication are the hallmarks of the new age.
Unsurprisingly, the unlimited possibilities of a technology-mediated future
are central features of the new era. In the heart of technological
sophistication humanity dreams of slipping the last of its shackles and
taking control of its destiny.

Mir is more than a space station, it is a doorway to the future. A doorway
through which humanity is about to pass. I personally believe it will be a
marvelous adventure. Mircorp leads the way.

Mircorp is about attitude. Mircorp captures the imagination. Let me show
you the future.


In the exploration of space, Mircorp is going to take up where others have
left off. (So completely has their lack of imagination colored the
experience of space, that it seems we all have blinders on regarding the

After rehabbing Mir, Mircorp will be leading the push to the moon, to
establish a moon base. Rehabbing Mir is step one. The moon base is step
two. L-5 is step three. L-5 is the natural site for a space colony, also
the natural site for the seed station of the L-5 colony. It is also the
natural site for the launch to Mars and the Asteroids. This then is the
progression: Mir, moon base, L-5, Mars/Asteroids.

MirBots are your space bots. They go to the moon before humans. They are
teleoperated, performing a full range of operations, and preparing for
later human arrival. They'll be building and operating a system to process
material, and operating the launch system that sends the product to L-5.

These are teleoperated robots, with eyes for remote viewing and
manipulators for remote,... well,... manipulation. Control of the remote
bots will be at the desk top or laptop computer of the operator, wherever
they may be. And they will, potentially, be every man, and every woman,

Now we have arrived at the threshold of one part of the business plan. The
moment for making money has arrived. The bots are made in quantity, like
high quality toys, hobbie items. Nearly identical to the ones that will go
to the moon. Aibo barks like a dog. My god, how feeble. MirBot takes
your dreams to the stars. Now that's a REAL technology application.

The enthusiasm, dedication and skill that characterizes the new computer
culture, will make competition for teleoperation privileges for the moon
bots a worldwide craze. The practice bots will be mass market "toys", and
will sell by the millions. The world will watch as thousands of regular
people become lunar explorers and builders.

But the world will do more than watch, it will take part.

By the way--bit of an aside here-- you really must find a way to sell
shares in this enterprise to those very same little people. Gotta take
every opportunity to broaden the experience of participation. I recommend
you register the company with a stock exchange--Vancouver perhaps--with
rules sufficiently relaxed so that the little people can get in on the
action. It will be like paying to go to the movie, but at the same time
getting a percentage of the gross. Everyone a member. A citizen. Of the

Back to the bots. I think of them as weighing one Kg. apiece, on spider
legs, with front facing camera and manipulator arms. (But this is just one
of an infinite number of possible designs.) The experience of being the
operator, cosmonaut, explorer, worker, builder will not be confined to the
moon. Every space venue will be the domain of these remote agents.
Because of the massive redundancy inherent in thousands of bots,
substantial failure rates can be easily tolerated; in fact, dialed in and
designed in as a part of minimizing the cost. The individual bots will
have a short range communications ability, and will send their data outputs
long range via uplink. The toy that is not a toy. Do you think this "toy"
will sell?

Thousands of people will get to travel virtually, but with hands on
interactive and active capability, to space: the moon, L-5, and Mir. Let's
consider Mir.

I hear that Mir has a fungus problem. A gang of bots, appropriately
equipped, could remediate that. Bot operators on Mir--What would you call
them?-- Botmonauts maybe -- will be serving alongside human space workers,
and making substantial contributions.

Who can remember what it was like to think this way, after years of
disappointment and neglect? But never mind that.

Every bit of this adventure is made for tv, and for the emerging
computer-screen world. MirTV.

Walter, I'd like to come on board, there's so much more to this than I can
write about. Everytime I get to thinking about it, it just seems to expand
away from me, the impact, the import becoming ever greater.

The Mirbots can work in space as satellite-worker roughnecks. They can do
eva more safely, more cheaply, and in much greater numbers than humans.
With an inventory of tools they could be customized for any job, and
perhaps exceed humans in precise dexterity. They wouldn't have to exceed
humans in judgement because they would be humans-- remember the mind behind
the remotely operated tool.

Imagine a bot repair crew--three bots let's say-- drifting through the
blackness of space, with a box of tools and parts and a little jet pack and
a radio. Gliding silently towards a rendezvous with some satellite in need
of maintenance. Space spiders with special tools, and grippers on the ends
of their legs, and each with a tv camera point-of-view that can be tuned in
by any human on the planet.

You're going to want to set up a ring of communication satellites whose
orbits are harmonic with Mir, and which can therefore be serviced when
periodically reencountered. Maintainability substantially reduces the cost
of the system. And upgradability means that the system retains, rather
than loses, value in the face of improving technology. This way, MirCorp
controls and sells access to a global communications infrastructure, while
enjoying first priority free access to these services for its own use,
access subsidized by the cash customers.

The Mirbots come in every marketing style from MacDonald's action figure
size, to coffee table, to what have you, and all of these are immediately

Apple secured its place in the digital culture by filling the schools with
its machines, and capturing the minds of the first generation of computer
users. Mircorp can secure its place in the field of space exploration, and
exploitation, by capturing the minds of the first generation of space
explorers. Make the development (and later deployment) of Mirbots a global
competition and a global effort. Robotics is rapidly acquiring an almost
cult-like status among the current and coming generation of technological
adepts. Mircorp's future lies with them, and they are yours for the
taking. As with every new generation, they hunger for their dream, and
their piece of the future, looking for someone to fire their imagination,
and someone to give them a chance.

I'd like to talk to you about MirBot and MirTV development. (Oh, did I
forget to tell you about MirTV, television for the future? How could I
have missed that one?)

Email, phone, drop me a line.

Jeff Davis
322 Princeton Ave.
Half Moon Bay, Ca. 94019



                        Best, Jeff Davis

           "Everything's hard till you know how to do it."
                                        Ray Charles

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