RE: SPACE: How hard IS it to get off Earth?

Billy Brown (
Sat, 13 Nov 1999 17:56:20 -0600

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
> I'd like to endorse Greg Burch's question as being extremely
> important, and add this followup:
> Is there any form of predesign or preplanning that could be done *now*
> which could realistically shorten the amount of time, or decrease the
> number of people, needed to convert assembler technology to at least one
> self-sustaining settlement in Earth orbit?

You bet. A large fraction of the project (maybe 75% of the lead time and 10% of the money) could be done before the assembler breakthrough. If we had a firm date for the invention of the necessary nanotech we could schedule the whole project around that to optimize our chance of success. Since we don't have such a date we should a) start work early and b) make an effort to develop better nanotech projections.

I think that preliminary work like locating a viable launch site, dealing with the local government and working out preliminary hardware designs should all begin a good 5-8 years before anyone expects to see a general-purpose assembler. Working out a good colonization plan is something we could start doing now - it doesn't take any much money at all and it will be critical to a successful project.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I