Re: SPACE: Terrestrial No More

From: David Blenkinsop (
Date: Wed Nov 08 2000 - 23:22:05 MST

On Saturday, Nov 4th, Spike Jones wrote:

> >
> > Eugene Leitl wrote: I'd rather spend 30 years in a 1/6 g environment half a
> > lightsecond above the earth in a lunar colony rather than come back at all.
> One and a third light seconds, but we get your point Gene. Properly scaled,
> we can do both simultaneously, and use a lot of shared technology. Recall
> that the ISS is actually a lot more a political stunt than a scientific venture,
> and as such it will likely not go away anytime soon. spike

I tend to think that it's really the long term funding game involved in
ISS that is the "stunt", no doubt tending to drive up the total cost
that people quote when they figure in all the redesigns that have been
done over the years. However, the zero-g research will no doubt be real
enough, right, it'll be real science even when there is some overlap
with what's been done before?

As for the desirability of the zero-g environment for humans, I think
there is potentially a great "comparative advantage" to this for
commercial and/or medical purposes -- these might center on the need or
desire for humans to try out modified gravity environments, whether we
are talking pure microgravity, as on ISS, or some variation on 'spin
gravity effect" on stations designed for that in the future. Zero-g
and/or low-gravity-spin-g are things that you just can't do very much of
outside of going into orbit! On basic economic grounds this just has to
have some commercial potential, provided you can get there cheaply
enough (whether people want to go to play, or do the "TV show space
survivor" thing in a novel way, or maybe find medical benefits that work
for certain people, or do space sports, or who knows what else)?

Compared to the radical factor of allowing human access to zero-g,
having access to moon rocks would be sort of a piddling thing in itself,
it seems to me. Sure, when you're really ready to build many things in
space, you'll want an off-Earth source of materials, to save the lift
costs of launching those construction materials. Meanwhile though, maybe
effective commercial ventures could be based on the truly novel zero-g
property that we find as soon as we get into orbital free fall?

David Blenkinsop <>

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