John K Clark (
Mon, 29 Dec 1997 23:05:11 -0800 (PST)


A first rate post by Forrest Bishop <>, but I can
always find something to argue about.

>Mars also may have so-called "fossil fuel" deposits similar to
>Earth's oil and natural gas reservoirs.

But of course such fuel is useless without free oxygen, and even as a chemical
feed stock I question its value, especially in an age of Nanotechnology.

>It bugs me to see a concept [O'Neill-style colonization] named after
>its popularizer.

I think you're being a little hard on O'Neill, the man did some original work
and he asked a very deep question, "Is the surface of a planet the best place
for an advanced civilization?" His answer was no, and I think he was correct.
Besides, naming a concept for its popularizer is a tradition, 2 continents
were named after one.

>My reform proposals start with instant and total shutdown of the
>Space Shuttle program.

yes. Yes. YES! The space Shuttle started life as a terrible way to perform a
dangerous job that nobody wanted done, huge expense and inept management
did not improve things. Dump the white elephant.

>This [solar power satellite stations (SSPS)] has been studied since
>the late '60s, it is just now starting to make economic sense.

At one time I was a big booster of SSPS, but now I have doubts they will ever
make economic sense in delivering power to earth, I certainly wouldn't invest
my own money in such a venture. It's possible to transmit power by microwaves
from 22 thousand miles, I'm just skeptical of its practicality given the
alternatives. If you had a sky hook things would be very different, just send
the power down a wire, but that's a project that makes even SSPS look modest.

>Mining asteroids will, IMO, completely eliminate Earth mining.

I may be a wimp but the idea of using the Earth's atmosphere as a brake to
slow down a large irregularly shaped asteroid to change its orbit, as some
have suggested, scares the hell out of me. I think there will always be a lot
of opposition to crashing any asteroid larger than a small bus to the Earth,
and if they were that small I wonder if it would be economic. Rather than
pushing material down a gravity well it might be better for us to climb out
and use the resources there.

>The private Conestoga rocket of the early '80s was made from a
>Minuteman booster. The company was destroyed by someone who notified
>some obscure gov agency that dealt with export law. The spent booster
>landed in the Caribbean, outside US territorial waters and was, you
>see, a form of "exporting munitions".

I didn't know that, but it's so crazy it must be true, nobody could make up
something that dumb. That's our government in action! How sad.

John K Clark

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