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#1 2005-09-07 21:08:44

TwinBeam
Member
From: Chandler, AZ
Registered: 2004-01-14
Posts: 144

Re: 4Frontiers

You may want to check out 

http://www.4frontiers.com/info/index.php

I can't say whether they'll stick with it, but they're aiming for Mars.  Their interim business plans seem a bit weak though...

Sorry if this has been posted previously - first I'd seen of it, and it didn't turn up in forum search.

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#2 2005-09-08 05:11:32

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 26,305

Re: 4Frontiers

TwinBeam
I myself had posted of this in the Planetary transportation folder under the thread The Methane Based Economy - Exploring Mars in a Reusable Manner.

Here is what was put forth:

Well to make this successful we need to mine for these insitu materials and to be able to process them into what we need under the least amount of energy used to make the conversions happen.

Space entrepreneurs eyeing Mars as a hub of some future solar system economy launched a startup on Tuesday to mine the red planet for building materials.

The new company, 4Frontiers, plans to mine Mars for building materials and energy sources, and export the planet's mineral wealth to forthcoming space stations on the moon and elsewhere.

The Next Mother Lode: Mars 

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#3 2005-09-08 13:37:05

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,667

Re: 4Frontiers

The company got featured on Slashdot, and got 99% negative comments.

Still... The resumé is not that bad, heck, it's the best I've seen ever!
Lots of white space between the dots, maybe, but who says they have to tell us all?
Lots of good people already, with experience in large-scale stuff;
The idea to fill in the blanks themselves by R&D and IP leveraging might prove fruitful, they can start a gazillion of projects, and see it all come together. Ten years from now (If all goes well) we may see a thriving private business (Bigelow/Musk) needing tech-savy partners. If they can keep going that long, we could see some sparks.

Oh, and now we`re (well not we of course...) laughing at their silly dream, but if they can leverage the money to build a Homestead on Earth etc. they might very well attract the bright minds of the future, heck, the world NEEDS some inspirational goals, this could be one.

And... (RobertDyck is working for them!)

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#4 2005-09-08 14:58:46

reddragon
Banned
From: Earth
Registered: 2005-01-24
Posts: 193

Re: 4Frontiers

My two main questions are:
1)How will they raise the capital to go to Mars?
2)How will they, being a for-profit company, make a profit once they get there?
I'm not saying they can't do it; I hope they can, but there are many problems they will have to overcome. Business will certainly follow if others go to Mars, but can they lead the way. It seems difficult. It costs a lot to get there and will be a long time before Mars can make money.


Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

             -The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
              by Douglas Adams

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#5 2005-09-08 15:18:07

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,667

Re: 4Frontiers

It will cost loooooooots of money, be sure of that.

I can see several scenario's, probably build up moner on Earth by R&D and selling their stuff to companies (like say GIZMOmkIV, the teleoperated mine-digger...)

... And slowly build a reputation for being good, or rather excellent at the things they do.
Bad analogy maybe, but here goes: The Quakers(sp?) are for a lot of people weirdo`s but are good craftsmen, and get hired for that, 'those Marsatics', heck, they are a buncha crackpots, but whaddaya reckon, the tools they design... Priceless...

Fast Forward 10-15 years... A lot of robotic scouting has been done, a lot of cheaper boosters, life support yaddayaddayadda... Turns out that on Mars, those meteors are literally up for grabs, and a god percentage contain a hefty percentage of Platinium-group metals... In the hydrogen economy, that's lotsa $$$$$ up for grabs, and MonsterCo agrees to foot a part of the bill in exchange for mining rights....

Ok, lots of pie in the sky, maybe, lots of blanks to fill in, but then again... Returning Pt might prove worthwile, if they can come up with a cheap solid rocket launcher from Mars, and ballistic reentry of a dumb payload into the Sahara etc...

The point is, these guys are *no* crackpots, probably hope some angel investors come up, for sure, but... they recon their `can do`approach will eventually pay off.
Success assured, heck no, but at least they are prepared to try.

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#6 2005-09-08 15:38:23

publiusr
Banned
From: Alabama
Registered: 2005-02-24
Posts: 682

Re: 4Frontiers

Another start-up with Big Dreams and no money.

And brain draining other outfits.

Here is my plan.

"So you are going to shut down the Devon island facility?"

It's done anyway. Besides--I need the money to hire hookers and private detectives to entrap some Senators--"Support HLLV--or your wife gets the pictures"

Two months later--I have five HLLV pads in FL :twisted:

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#7 2005-09-08 16:20:29

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,667

Re: 4Frontiers

Virtually all startups start empty handed.

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#8 2005-09-08 19:17:16

Commodore
Member
From: Upstate NY, USA
Registered: 2004-07-25
Posts: 1,021

Re: 4Frontiers

Every bit of brainstorming helps at this point.

But the Moon and asteroids will produce results long before Mars will.


"Yes, I was going to give this astronaut selection my best shot, I was determined when the NASA proctologist looked up my ass, he would see pipes so dazzling he would ask the nurse to get his sunglasses."
---Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane

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#9 2005-09-09 01:41:08

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,667

Re: 4Frontiers

Depends what you mean by results...

Like propellant-manufacturing.
On Mars, you could land a fully contained lander with only a set of atmospheric compressors/expanders, radiators..., to take in Martian atmosphere, and convert it to propellants. No digging around etc needed.

On Luna, you'd have to build extreme-cold resistant rovers, diggers, get to a spot that's in constant light, to set up a fairly complex refinery...

Mars would be the ideal jumping point for asteroids, getting experienced on the moons, and later the belt...

*kicks self* Darn, I promised myself not going off-topic, this is supposed to be about 4Frontiers, and *their* scenario, and I don`t think we can change their minds..

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#10 2005-09-09 05:07:31

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 26,305

Re: 4Frontiers

I do not thinkyou are going off topic in the least.
You bring up valid points on how to make it more profitable as a business venture.

Bring hydrogen all the way only to land it is very costly, there is the boil off issue, the super cooler and tank construction all to make methane for use to return or to go else where with at a lower cost to and for those that are there. The only profit in this is what gets returned must be of great value. Granted the first samples of Mars with have that significance but after that what does mars have to offer? The same could be said of the moon or of the asteriods or other NEO's.

All of these are the construction materials of the future for colonization and have only value to them for the most part.

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#11 2005-09-09 08:34:21

deagleninja
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2004-04-28
Posts: 376

Re: 4Frontiers

What I think is funny is that they call themselves Four Frontiers and site those four frontiers as being:

1)Earth
2)Moon
3)Mars
4)Asteroids

Where is Mercury is this picture???

Messenger is going to return data that indicates that Mercury has a wealth of ice at its poles, mark my words. I can also almost guarentee that Mercury has hospitable zones at the poles where the temperature varies very little. If I were going to start an industry I'd skip the Moon and head straight for Mercury. More resources, more sunlight, more tan crazy tourists!

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#12 2005-09-09 09:37:26

John Creighton
Member
From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 2,401
Website

Re: 4Frontiers

What I think is funny is that they call themselves Four Frontiers and site those four frontiers as being:

1)Earth
2)Moon
3)Mars
4)Asteroids

Where is Mercury is this picture???

Messenger is going to return data that indicates that Mercury has a wealth of ice at its poles, mark my words. I can also almost guarentee that Mercury has hospitable zones at the poles where the temperature varies very little. If I were going to start an industry I'd skip the Moon and head straight for Mercury. More resources, more sunlight, more tan crazy tourists!

I don't expect Mecury to be a great destination. Although it could have more nuclear fuell.

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#13 2005-09-09 09:57:41

deagleninja
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2004-04-28
Posts: 376

Re: 4Frontiers

Think about it...

If they do confirm ice on the Moon, then logic would demand that Mercury have several times the reserves. We already know it is rich in metals so uranium and plutonium should be abundant as well. It is THE prime real estate for a solar powered industry. When nuclear powered spacecraft become the means of getting around the solar system, Mercury will be a fantastic source of fuel. With an excess of energy, Mercury will have everything one needs to power commerce within the solar system. I'm sure it has rich deposits of helium-3, greater than the Moon in fact. Hydrogen can be collected from the surface or the solar wind and combined with oxygen in the rocks to create water. There is no atmosphere to interfere with rail-gun launched resources and spacecraft. And don't forget that it is cheaper to ship goods to Mercury than to Mars or the asteroids. If what is shipped back is energy in the form of microwaves, then you defeat the disadvantages of going deeper into the Sun's gravity well!

No one gives a hoot about Mercury, but this will all change when Messenger shows what Mercury really has to offer. You heard it here first!

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#14 2005-09-09 10:06:35

John Creighton
Member
From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 2,401
Website

Re: 4Frontiers

Think about it...

If they do confirm ice on the Moon, then logic would demand that Mercury have several times the reserves. We already know it is rich in metals so uranium and plutonium should be abundant as well. It is THE prime real estate for a solar powered industry. When nuclear powered spacecraft become the means of getting around the solar system, Mercury will be a fantastic source of fuel. With an excess of energy, Mercury will have everything one needs to power commerce within the solar system. I'm sure it has rich deposits of helium-3, greater than the Moon in fact. Hydrogen can be collected from the surface or the solar wind and combined with oxygen in the rocks to create water. There is no atmosphere to interfere with rail-gun launched resources and spacecraft. And don't forget that it is cheaper to ship goods to Mercury than to Mars or the asteroids. If what is shipped back is energy in the form of microwaves, then you defeat the disadvantages of going deeper into the Sun's gravity well!

No one gives a hoot about Mercury, but this will all change when Messenger shows what Mercury really has to offer. You heard it here first!

Maybe your right that any destination in the inner planets is a good place to start. HOwever, I highly doubt that mercury has water. It is just so hot there.

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#15 2005-09-09 10:42:06

deagleninja
Member
From: USA
Registered: 2004-04-28
Posts: 376

Re: 4Frontiers

Maybe your right that any destination in the inner planets is a good place to start. HOwever, I highly doubt that mercury has water. It is just so hot there.

Not free flowing water true. But think of subsurface ice deposited at the poles in permanent shadow!

If the Moon is capable of having subsurface ice at the poles, then so is Mercury. And if we assume that ice reached the Moon via cometary impacts over the eons, then many more comets are sure to have impacted the poles of Mercury.

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#16 2005-09-09 11:08:14

Stormrage
Member
From: United Kingdom, Europe
Registered: 2005-06-25
Posts: 274

Re: 4Frontiers

Mercury Is to damn hot It is to close to the sun. Going there is sucide. Drop the subject.

This is the best news i have heard in years. This makes getting to Mars more realistic. It also turns out that this companie has ties to The Mars Homestead Project.
http://www.wired.com/news/space/0,2697,68739,00.html

I can't write more since my keyboard is messed up.


"...all I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by."

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#17 2005-09-09 11:49:23

RobS
Banned
From: South Bend, IN
Registered: 2002-01-15
Posts: 1,701
Website

Re: 4Frontiers

The radar evidence is that Mercury has ICE at the poles; not just disseminated frost. Arecibo spotted it, but did not detect ice at the lunar poles. So the current evidence does indeed favor a lot of ice at Mercury's poles.

But I wouldn't regard Mercury as a great future destination for these reasons:

1. We have no idea what its mineral reserves are. It will have PGMs just like the moon from smashed meteorites. The planet has a huge metal core, but it's a thousand miles underground. If Mercury's crust is just an accumulation of dry volcanic rocks, like the moon, it won't have any significant ores. If it has (or had) some water and volatiles inside, then it may have magmatic processes that make copper, silver, gold, etc., like many ore formation process on Earth. But we really don't know.

2. Over most of its surface it has way too much sunlight for months, then none at all for months. When the sun is up the regolith heats up to a scorching 800 degrees or so; lots of infrared radiation for cooling systems to deal with. I wouldn't move vehicles or maybe even robots around during the day. Most of the planet will have to be explored at night using headlights; not the best way to explore anything. Any "settlements" outside the polar regions will have to be deeply buried and will probably need nuclear power for the lengthy nightspan. No one will live on most of Mercury unless that spot has incredible mineral wealth.

3. The poles have areas with perpetual sunlight, so maybe it will be possible to build greenhouse modules in those areas where horizontal sunlight can be spread around and used to raise food. But Mercury's surface will have micrometeoroids; it has no atmosphere like Mars. And it will have fierce levels of solar radiation, which will be even fiercer at the poles where Mercury's magnetic field will concentrate it. The auroras will be pretty (if there are enough atoms around to get excited by the solar radiation) but they signal a deadly problem.

4. The delta-v between Mercury and anything else in the solar system is pretty high because it is so deep in the sun's gravitational field. I think one way between Earth orbit and Mercury is 10 km/sec. This will make transportation expensive and will require advanced propulsion. Maybe solar sails will eventually be good for moving cargo to and from Mercury, since sunlight and gravity both increase by the inverse square of the distance. I doubt Mercury will be able to export PGMs, gold, or anything else profitably compared to the moon and Mars because of higher transportation and production costs. Possibly it will have a lot of Helium 3, but then it will compete with the moon if He3 is really of any value.

                       -- RobS

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#18 2005-09-09 13:52:37

kaci_m
Banned
From: Southern California
Registered: 2005-08-30
Posts: 9
Website

Re: 4Frontiers

I'm all for any effort that intends to actually get us to Mars rather than just talk about what it should be like. This might seem like an overgeneralization, but it seems that most of the people in the space activist community are far more interested in discussing, for example, the future space currency or the future colony political structure rather than the basic things like financing or public outreach. If 4 Frontiers is a serious effort, I welcome its existance and hope it succeeds.

I am still a little wary of 4 Frontiers, though: Their idea of building a public outreach center that's also a Mars simulation is admirable, but they need to explain how they can get financing for even that effort. Are they praying for a money Angel and hoping he/she comes soon?

Personally, I think that for the money they would need for the public outreach center, it would be easier to finance, design, build, and market an educational-yet-fun PC game and market it to both schools and the general public (like a mix between Oregon Trail and SimCity), but that's just my gut feeling.  I'm looking forward to seeing what these people come up with.

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#19 2005-09-09 14:15:16

publiusr
Banned
From: Alabama
Registered: 2005-02-24
Posts: 682

Re: 4Frontiers

Public outreach? That won't help anything. People are either already interested or they are not. The best policy is to see if a law can be passed to have a 'Space Day" holiday where every channel must be forced to carry some NASA story.

That or my 'blackmail the congresscritters' idea.

It beats playing house on Devon Island.

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#20 2005-09-09 15:42:14

John Creighton
Member
From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 2,401
Website

Re: 4Frontiers

The radar evidence is that Mercury has ICE at the poles; not just disseminated frost. Arecibo spotted it, but did not detect ice at the lunar poles. So the current evidence does indeed favor a lot of ice at Mercury's poles.

But I wouldn't regard Mercury as a great future destination for these reasons:

1. We have no idea what its mineral reserves are. It will have PGMs just like the moon from smashed meteorites. The planet has a huge metal core, but it's a thousand miles underground. If Mercury's crust is just an accumulation of dry volcanic rocks, like the moon, it won't have any significant ores. If it has (or had) some water and volatiles inside, then it may have magmatic processes that make copper, silver, gold, etc., like many ore formation process on Earth. But we really don't know.

2. Over most of its surface it has way too much sunlight for months, then none at all for months. When the sun is up the regolith heats up to a scorching 800 degrees or so; lots of infrared radiation for cooling systems to deal with. I wouldn't move vehicles or maybe even robots around during the day. Most of the planet will have to be explored at night using headlights; not the best way to explore anything. Any "settlements" outside the polar regions will have to be deeply buried and will probably need nuclear power for the lengthy nightspan. No one will live on most of Mercury unless that spot has incredible mineral wealth.

3. The poles have areas with perpetual sunlight, so maybe it will be possible to build greenhouse modules in those areas where horizontal sunlight can be spread around and used to raise food. But Mercury's surface will have micrometeoroids; it has no atmosphere like Mars. And it will have fierce levels of solar radiation, which will be even fiercer at the poles where Mercury's magnetic field will concentrate it. The auroras will be pretty (if there are enough atoms around to get excited by the solar radiation) but they signal a deadly problem.

4. The delta-v between Mercury and anything else in the solar system is pretty high because it is so deep in the sun's gravitational field. I think one way between Earth orbit and Mercury is 10 km/sec. This will make transportation expensive and will require advanced propulsion. Maybe solar sails will eventually be good for moving cargo to and from Mercury, since sunlight and gravity both increase by the inverse square of the distance. I doubt Mercury will be able to export PGMs, gold, or anything else profitably compared to the moon and Mars because of higher transportation and production costs. Possibly it will have a lot of Helium 3, but then it will compete with the moon if He3 is really of any value.

                       -- RobS

That is a very good summery

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#21 2005-09-09 16:24:36

kaci_m
Banned
From: Southern California
Registered: 2005-08-30
Posts: 9
Website

Re: 4Frontiers

Public outreach? That won't help anything. People are either already interested or they are not.

I do agree with your assessment that people are either interested or uninterested in space exploration/colonization, HOWEVER, I do believe that a good chunk of people in developed countries have at least have a passing interest in space. The problem is, the space community needs to get these people aware of us, get them active in the various societies, and make them give their emotional, political, financial, etc. support.

Public outreach would be, in my opinion, the best way to fish out the biggest chunk of interested, useful people, and then use these energized people to empty out either their own pockets, the pockets of a rich corporation, or the pockets of their respective governments. It's a lot more useful, and has a lot more revenue potential, than posters commenting on "Martian Socialism and Terraforming: Built-in social backlash?".

The best policy is to see if a law can be passed to have a 'Space Day" holiday where every channel must be forced to carry some NASA story.

There would probably be some silly First Amendment argument against that if that law was proposed. Besides, you can have the same effect if you just hooked up Angelina Jolie with Michael Griffin roll (i'll applaud anyone who can set that up,  by the way).

That or my 'blackmail the congresscritters' idea.

It beats playing house on Devon Island.

Yes, well, the congressmen could always do what that govenor of New Jersey did and just tell the public about their scandalous activities. As for Devon Island, I think in a few years it should be placed in a museum, or just moved to Australia, which the Mars Society was planning to build a station at anyways. Or locate it in Palm Springs.

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#22 2005-09-09 17:06:56

GCNRevenger
Member
From: Earth
Registered: 2003-10-14
Posts: 6,056

Re: 4Frontiers

I am throughly... unimpressed. Their "business plan" seems to be to patent bright ideas useful for space flight and then hold a legal gun to NASA's head (or even other countries) to cough up cash or face persistant legal challenges.

Gee thanks for stabbing us in the back, 4Frontiers blackmailers

...Anyway, they got a shot of cash from a retired Intel suit... hired an IP lawyer, a marketer, and a "space entrepreneur..." and had a minimalistic pretty website with a lame logo cooked up. Big plans for perminant AND profitable Mars settlement, which is pretty absurd. Unless they are planned to sell NASA apartments at the site or something as their revenue source. Prominant listing of the MarsHomestead folks who are too optimistic to be taken seriously? List of "advisors?" Big deal. They have no chance of ever producing anything really useful just like all AltSpacers (minus Elon or Burt + $500M).

Edit, more thoughts...:

...I wonder how easily (hand picked? where is 4Fronteirs headquarterd?) civil judges will be swayed from them trying to patent relativly simple ideas?

...And I wonder if the MarsHomestead folks know who they are really dealing with, particularly if they have any IP agreements with them.


"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those that do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw

The glass is at 50% of capacity

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#23 2005-09-09 18:57:27

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,667

Re: 4Frontiers

That is a very good summery

...and from a planetary geologist. Thanks for chiming in Rob.

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#24 2005-09-09 19:08:19

Rxke
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2003-11-03
Posts: 3,667

Re: 4Frontiers

I was eagerly awaiting GCNRevengers put down! Atlast,what took you so long?  wink

-legal gun: they talk about cooperation, not exthortion. patenting and licencing good stuff is not criminal, as long as they don't go the software-industry's way of patenting overgeneral silly stuff.

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#25 2005-09-09 20:13:41

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 26,305

Re: 4Frontiers

Looks like the executive summary gives due where it should.
Document shows how the money trail will develope and planned design for mars first settlement on page 7.

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