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#51 2007-02-07 07:32:16

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

GCNRevenger,

The long term benefits of a functioning lunar manufacturing base could effect the total long term development of space including the colonization of Mars and the outer planets within our solar system.

using the mining facilities as a base for operating on the Moon and then expanding it into a large manufacturing base for supplying components, resources processed for space based projects will reduce the overall long term costs for human expansion into space.

Yes, it will cost alot...

Again, again, I say that this is total nonsense. Oh you bet it will cost more, more than the same product from Earth Not only now, but in the future too! It just costs so much to make things on the Moon, that there can be no competition with Earth. The Moon simply does not offer much that can possibly be worth the cost involved in manufacturing versus doing it right here. I think that its safe to say that there can be no Moon factories without cheap launch from Earth, but if you have that, then what do you need the Moon for?

Yes it costs a lot. It costs too much

Large vessel construction in low gravity? And here you sail off the cliff into science fiction. Nonsense, "large vessel construction" will not result in rockets much bigger or lighter, because the limiting factor of their construction will be the acceleration from launch, not from gravity, were the Moon offers little advantage. Construction on Earth also permits you to use stronger, lighter materials (carbon composites) which just aren't available on the Moon. If you are building "large vessels," the place to build them would be Earth orbit, not the Lunar surface. But I digress, it will cost so much more to build on the Moon with inferior materials that the same/similar vehicle could be built on Earth with better materials for far less. Who cares if its half the size if it costs pennies on the dollar of the Moon ship and same or better efficiency?

Mars is situation where we will want many smaller vehicles that are reusable instead of a few massive ones too, travel has to become routine and easy for small companies to get into. Not huge government star ships.

Training for low gravity? Nonsense, firstly the Moon has unique gravity not found elsewhere that people might go, and second the cost of training on site (where they will live and work) will be small. People adjust to different gravity fields pretty fast. As far as people are concerned, we will do just fine without a Lunar practice site.

No, we need to discourage this talk about "big Moon civilization and industry!!!" so that people won't roll their eyes and yawn about plans that are doable and useful there.

Comparisons with past colonization are all bunk, space travel is simply not like this, its too different to compare them in such familiar or prideful terms. All Britain had to do was cross an ocean, while a trip to the Moon is harder than to the bottom of the ocean.

Again, there is not going to be a huge Lunar industrial base or population, its just not going to happen. Everyone who has told you how good and wonderful and inevitable it is was lying. The Moon is hard, harder than you are willing to imagine it seems, harder than the Earth. Its not rocket science, its economics, the Moon just doesn't have much to offer.


"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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#52 2007-02-07 08:24:45

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: Lunar economics etc

At the root of many of these discussions is time. Look far enough ahead and almost anything seems possible, even interstellar flight.

The disconnect happens when commonplace activities like industry, passenger travel and commerce are relocated off planet. As GCN says this makes a BIG BIG difference. The primary driver is cost. Why do so few people have their own jet aircraft? The technology is market based and mature and readily available,  the answer is of course that's it's too expensive.

Operating factories underwater is easier and cheaper to do than on the Moon, let alone Mars, so where are they? These steps are for the future. When will they happen? Pick a date, but realistically it's a minimum of 50 years before any significant production or tourist facilities will be operating on the Moon, maybe much longer, maybe never. There are no hotels in Antarctica, no passenger submarines or even airships, and those are possible right now and have been for a long time. The marketplace also determine what happens.


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#53 2007-02-07 11:11:13

Tom Kalbfus
Banned
Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Re: Lunar economics etc

GCNRevenger,

The long term benefits of a functioning lunar manufacturing base could effect the total long term development of space including the colonization of Mars and the outer planets within our solar system.

using the mining facilities as a base for operating on the Moon and then expanding it into a large manufacturing base for supplying components, resources processed for space based projects will reduce the overall long term costs for human expansion into space.

Yes, it will cost alot...

Again, again, I say that this is total nonsense. Oh you bet it will cost more, more than the same product from Earth Not only now, but in the future too! It just costs so much to make things on the Moon, that there can be no competition with Earth. The Moon simply does not offer much that can possibly be worth the cost involved in manufacturing versus doing it right here. I think that its safe to say that there can be no Moon factories without cheap launch from Earth, but if you have that, then what do you need the Moon for?

You need cheap launch to get the process going, but you can lift greater mass from the moon with the same energy than you could from Earth. Do you think the Whole Solar System is going to be a giant mercantilist Empire where everything is made on Earth?

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#54 2007-02-07 13:20:38

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

GCNRevenger,

The long term benefits of a functioning lunar manufacturing base could effect the total long term development of space including the colonization of Mars and the outer planets within our solar system.

using the mining facilities as a base for operating on the Moon and then expanding it into a large manufacturing base for supplying components, resources processed for space based projects will reduce the overall long term costs for human expansion into space.

Yes, it will cost alot...

Again, again, I say that this is total nonsense. Oh you bet it will cost more, more than the same product from Earth Not only now, but in the future too! It just costs so much to make things on the Moon, that there can be no competition with Earth. The Moon simply does not offer much that can possibly be worth the cost involved in manufacturing versus doing it right here. I think that its safe to say that there can be no Moon factories without cheap launch from Earth, but if you have that, then what do you need the Moon for?

You need cheap launch to get the process going, but you can lift greater mass from the moon with the same energy than you could from Earth. Do you think the Whole Solar System is going to be a giant mercantilist Empire where everything is made on Earth?

Yep. Something like that. At least until later-stage colonization of Mars and the discovery of fusion power, only then will you be able to build a civilization entirely without materials from Earth.

You can get close to this though in the shorter term by making bulk materials locally where they are needed, like food, fuel, and most building materials (bulk metals, bulk polymers) as you can on Mars. Space ships, complicated machinery (diggers, drills, turbo pumps), computer chips/circuits, nuclear fuel, engineering polymers, drugs, specialty chemicals, and that sort of thing will still need to be imported from Terra.

The Moon however lacks key elements to do even bulk things (Little/no hydrogen, carbon, nor any nitrogen. Energy intensive oxygen production, solar energy only available ~2 weeks/month) hence it is unable to export much either. There is no infrastructure on the Moon as there is on the Earth, and building such there would be much harder since conditions are so much more forbidding and materials less readily available. The lack of fuel to combine with oxidizer to make propellant makes export much more difficult... And because they Moon has so little to export, there is no reason for a Moon civilization to exist. At least not for a long while.

The energy required to go to/from the Moon is not a sufficient advantage in this regard, especially since there is no good means to put the energy needed for launch on space ships sent from the Moon (ie no rocket fuel, eg Hydrogen/Methane/etc) short of a space elevator. It is certainly not enough to overcome how much easier it is to build things on Earth than Luna.

(reply to TwinBeam forthcoming)


"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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#55 2007-02-07 13:36:04

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

To put it in its own post to re-emphasize, the Moon's lower gravity is not a net advantage due to the drawbacks of building, working, and traveling to/from th surface. Maybe some day a long time off when we're building an O'Neill colony or a Soletta to ward off an Earthly ice age, then sure bulk Lunar materials may make sense.

That day is not today, nor will it be tomorrow


"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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#56 2007-02-07 20:24:13

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

Frankly TwinBeam, what industries will be on the Moon are so small (basically just rare element mining + a little tourism), that because you didn't qualify it ("small industries" instead of just "industries"), that I had to assume you meant pretty big, and what you are thinking of is big by comparison to what is actually doable. What is actually economical and profitable on the Moon is even smaller than you think I believe.

Nor did you say that without $10/lbs launch ("essentially free") means that there are useful industries, it is quite plain by your post that you think that is the price it must be to make Earth production + launch competitive with Lunar manufacturing, since you are competing with Earth.

If what you mean isn't what you say, thats not my fault.I also try to group my ideas together at least somewhat, so a new statement may closely accompany a response, which is not my fault either if you can't keep what you write about straight.
_______________________________________________

I didn't ignore your idea of making bulk materials and items on the Moon, I just addressed it differently. For computer chips I wanted to illustrate how the difficulty of Lunar manufacturing does not always trump the difficulty of Earth launch, particularly for satellites as the application mentioned.

As for the fuel tank or pressure vessel itself, again I think my thesis again applies: it is possible to make these things on the Moon, but the costs associated with constructing them there makes them more expensive than a "substitutable" counterpart made on Earth. Particularly since most of the ships, things riding on the ships, and the destination of these ships will be Earth then that is where they will be made. And particularly since better materials (Lithium-Aluminum alloy, Carbon composites, light weight polymer insulation) are only available here too.

So yes, even later with relatively simple bulk metal shapes, competition with Earth will probably not be practical.
_______________________________________________
As for food production, I was addressing it in term of Lunar food being an export that was cheaper than food from Earth because of lower gravity. The same reasoning behind the computer chip example applies, plus the elements needed for life cannot leave the Moon any faster than they are imported, as they are not available there.

The last of the "consumables" to touch on is Oxygen, which I think will not be a cake walk to extract given the energy required, and that niggly issue of two-week nights except at the Lunar poles. But I digress, I think its unlikely that LOX will serve much use off the surface except to mitigate the expense of importing materials to the Moon. Especially since interplanetary ships will be predominantly nuclear powered, LOX is even less useful.

The gelled fuel thing I am highly dubious of, did you read all the fine print? First of all, the fuel is gelled not by the presence of metal particles, but rather "spiked" by "gelant" solid Methane crystals, which require carbon and hydrogen not available to you on the Moon. The paper doesn't discuss metal particles as gelants at all. Given the stark differences in the two phases (liquid oxygen vs solid aluminum) I doubt a stable gel can be formed.

In either event, it seems clear that the author is an engineer and not a chemist, and his idea that such mixtures are "stable" is questionable. Any time you put high oxidizing potential (oxygen, the namesake archtype) and a high power reducers together (aluminum), it doesn't take much at all to bring disaster. Plus, the molar mass of the exhaust (Al2O3) will be high, which will negatively impact efficiency. Al2O3 crystals are also highly abrasive (which is why they are used in sand paper), which will probably prevent engines from being reusable, if they work at all.

And how do you pump a gel?


"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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#57 2007-02-07 21:22:40

Martin_Tristar
Member
From: Earth, Region : Australia
Registered: 2004-12-07
Posts: 305

Re: Lunar economics etc

GCNRevenger,

I think we have two different camps of thought 1) limited budget explorer mission development and 2) Long term larger budget settlement / colonization development.  Your are sounding like the First (1) Camp of thought. But we need the settlement / colonization development thinking to place the explorer / outpost missions to be placed in the areas for colonization on the Moon and Mars. Lunar economics clearly derives from the 2nd Camp of thought - Colonization / Settlement.

We need to development the required infrastructure on earth for settlement / colonization needs in our solar system that is different to the micro-mission objectives for explorer/tourist missions to these planets. Volume of personnel for space and the equipment / hardware requires are different , the housing of personnel and supply logistics are different, the vessel designs are different and construction needs are different as well.

So, I think you (GCNRevenger) are not on the topic outlined because you are thinking of explorer type missions and not settlement / colonization missions.

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#58 2007-02-08 10:47:50

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

You talk and you talk Tristar, but you do not listen!

I am absolutely addressing the "later term" manufacturing, you just aren't willing to listen to the hard truth apparently.

I am saying that the Moon will never offer an advantage until we need tens and hundreds of thousands of tonnes of raw materials in Cis-Lunar space for some reason. That because it is so much easier to build things on Earth, and not substantially more difficult to launch these things, that nobody will ever bother with much Lunar manufacturing.  Since there is no reason for export, then there is no reason for domestic manufacturing - or much of a population - either.

Again, you can't compete with Earth, its too hard to make and launch things from the Moon, the lower gravity is absolutely not a sufficient advantage. Only some far flung future when we're building O'Neill colonies or Solettas, then and only then does it make sense. Not for space ships, stations satellites, nothing else.


"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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#59 2007-02-09 00:02:33

Martin_Tristar
Member
From: Earth, Region : Australia
Registered: 2004-12-07
Posts: 305

Re: Lunar economics etc

GCNRevenger,

You can make the same argument about any of the planets including Mars, but If we want to develop technologies for the long term settlement of space for the human race then we need bases , manufacturing facilities, space stations and planetary settlements on other planets than the earth.

I do listen to your negative crap, every time I read your comments, and know that, if you where in charge of NASA or any other government funded space agency, we will be nowhere in the development of space on a large scale for colonization / settlement of space. We world are not powered by men that don't want to change the world but it is powered by visionaries that want to change the society into something larger and more than the previous generations had.  We have been going into space for 45 years and what do we have to show for human expansion into space :- several tourist missions to the moon , two expired space stations , one current space station, and a number of satellities.  No, large orbital factories, No lunar bases, Not even a tourist / explorer to Mars or any other planet in our solar system, No development of better drive systems , or even a better power systems to increase the systems and tools in space. You are of that same ideas that have been so slow in the previous development, we won't get to landing a tourist / explorer mission on Mars until 2050+,

With the coming change in government, the development of space could be very slow and may not even stay on timeline with the issues confronting us on earth. The only way is to set a large enough goal / objective and head for it, a tourist mission to mars and lunar base is just steps on the human race expansion into space.

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#60 2007-02-09 06:59:35

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

other than earth

On the ones that make sense and have advantages, doing so places without much to offer is silly. The Moon has so many drawbacks that it is not one of these places, while Mars for instance does. It has most of the elements instead of just a few, better thermal/radiation/sunlight conditions, more gravity, but most of all it has a reason for domestic consumption - and hence production - to exist.

Yes yes, GCNR hates space flight, etc heard it all before. Even though that this simply isn't the case, I don't suppose it matters, because by golly challenging the holy dogma of science-fiction plans for a vast Lunar civilization or euthanizing Bob Zubrin's crazy suicidal plan means you are anti-space, its plainly obvious that I hate space. Yep. Sure is. Oh yeah and showing why popular but bad ideas really are bad = being negative(!!!)

Setting big goals is one thing, but setting goals that are too big or make no sense (Lunar factories), and will do more harm to space travel than good.


"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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#61 2007-02-10 01:01:08

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

Right on, GCN! I agree with you completely. Science, tourism, and PGMs: lunar bases will be built on those three, I suspect in that order. The last one could eventually require a staff of a thousand or so, probably on 1-2 year contracts, with big signing bonuses for those willing to stay on for an additional term (depending on how easily the human body can manage in lunar gravity; we don't know). They'll mostly be young and single and the weekends could be pretty wild. If PGM mining expands considerably (to hundreds of tonnes per year), it will drive down the round trip transportation cost, and that will drive up the scientific presence and the tourist flow.

I am not sure lunar agriculture will even be enough to cover most food needs. Greenhouses will have to be shielded from micrometeoroids and other than at the poles will need artificial lighting. These requirements will be very expensive.

                 -- RobS

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#62 2007-02-10 05:19:48

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: Lunar economics etc

Setting big goals is one thing, but setting goals that are too big or make no sense (Lunar factories), and will do more harm to space travel than good.

Indeed so. Space visionaries are sometimes blind to their own imaginations, just because something can be imagined doesn't make it desirable or even possible. Too many ridiculous ideas are being sold: lunar He3 and platinum mining, solar power satellites, space colonies etc etc. All these ideas do is make feasible ideas look bad, such as bases on the Moon and Mars.


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#63 2007-02-10 07:40:28

Martin_Tristar
Member
From: Earth, Region : Australia
Registered: 2004-12-07
Posts: 305

Re: Lunar economics etc

At least some people have future changing ideas, plans , strategies for space but not the people with small ideas with tourist missions , that are  trying to win senate, or house scraps, but the development of a long term plan doesn't completely need the government (regulations and framework only) but it needs the whole society including the business, financial markets, commodity exchanges to expand out from the earth from the global market to the interplanetary market ( scale up ).

You can stay, in the slow gear, but the rest of the world will change and move forward. (example - like the tape war between the betamax and VHS , you are the betamax and we are the VHS model) We may have come second in the development stacks but we are going to kick the butt of the competition including the government agencies. !!!!!!!!! REMEMBER THOSE WORDS - TSII !!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#64 2007-02-10 11:42:54

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

Something like that. Given how food doesn't weigh all that much, I bet most of it will be imported. I am a little skeptical of even 100s tonne quantities of PGMs, I really doubt we'll be moving that much mass, especially since I don't believe in the "Hydrogen Economy" anymore. Tens of tonnes most likely. A lot of the mining work can and will have to be done by machine too, which I imagine will limit miner workmen size. But anyway yeah, I largely agree with you RobS.

You've got to start somewhere Tristar, if all you push is grandiose plans of space cities and and all that, nobody who controls any real money will even give you the time of day, be they private or public. Rich people didn't get that way by pouring fantastic sums of money into bad investments after all. If all you push is huge plans with far-future payoffs, then "the whole society" will never go for your plan. "Interplanetary markets" won't exist until we have actually established ourselves on other worlds with the express intent to stay; this is enough to worry about for a long time, and where we should start. It will be hard enough to figure out how and why to stay as it is.

You can't climb mountains in high gear, and space is an exceedingly steep mountain


"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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#65 2007-02-10 15:37:28

Grypd
Member
From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,847

Re: Lunar economics etc

The Moon has so many drawbacks that it is not one of these places, while Mars for instance does. It has most of the elements instead of just a few, better thermal/radiation/sunlight conditions, more gravity, but most of all it has a reason for domestic consumption - and hence production - to exist.

Hi GCN, the Moon actually does have better sunlight than Mars. Mars has less than a fifth of the light we recieve here on the Earth and this means that solar as a power source is not really an option. And that is Mars major disadvantage a lack of power sources.

We do have the areas on the Moon that recieve constant or almost constant light these provide electricity and if we can expand solar farms from an intial base both east and west then eventually especially at the poles we will have a solar farm running power all year round. Solar eclipses can be protected by fuel cells and even the possible use of spinning gyro's.

But again there has to be a reason to create industrialisation and though the hunt for PGM's requires a certain amount it does not require people to be actually present. We have shown that telerobotics can do that job guite handily. So what else can require a human presence and the resource utilisation that needs an increased manufacturing base. Obviously there is the possibility of tourism but that is not likely.

Fusion plants could need the helium 3 but again not yet.

Powering the earth by microwaved energy is another proposal but again unlikely as it reguires a severe political treaty and is not necassarily going to be popular.

So that leaves science. There is a lot of experiments that mankind would benefit from doing away from here. This becomes especially important as we progress in biotech and nanotechnology where the ability to control the enviroment as well as ensure it cannot spread would be paramount. These bases will reguire a lot of support and it becomes cheaper to do if it can come from Moon manufactured bases.


Chan eil mi aig a bheil ùidh ann an gleidheadh an status quo; Tha mi airson cur às e.

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#66 2007-02-10 15:37:47

dicktice
Member
From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2002-11-01
Posts: 1,764

Re: Lunar economics etc

Right on, GCN! I agree with you completely. Science, tourism, and PGMs: lunar bases will be built on those three, I suspect in that order. The last one could eventually require a staff of a thousand or so, probably on 1-2 year contracts, with big signing bonuses for those willing to stay on for an additional term (depending on how easily the human body can manage in lunar gravity; we don't know). They'll mostly be young and single and the weekends could be pretty wild. If PGM mining expands considerably (to hundreds of tonnes per year), it will drive down the round trip transportation cost, and that will drive up the scientific presence and the tourist flow.

I am not sure lunar agriculture will even be enough to cover most food needs. Greenhouses will have to be shielded from micrometeoroids and other than at the poles will need artificial lighting. These requirements will be very expensive.

                 -- RobS

For what it's worth, regarding the above, here are my reactions:

Sucking up to GCNR will get you nowhere, RobS. I've tried, to no avail.

Science, tourism, and PGMs--what's that last mean? Acronyms bug me when I can't locate when they occur the first time, dammit. Something relating to a Lunar colony presumably. If so, any Earth organizm is bound to survive, if not thrive, Lunar gravity conditions. Imagine the human-flight recreational sports possibilities. Suitable centrifuge excercise facitlities, made sufficitly entertaining, will keep those capable of using them in shape to return to useful lives on Earth.

Older folks may survive and be usefully active longer under 1/6th gee conditions, and thus prefer not to return to Earth.

Whatever PGM means: mining shafts deep down into the Lunar mascons may uncover untold mineral resources, as well as the Lunar equivalent of geothermal sources of heat energy. Scientists from the word "go" undoubtedly. Think of the far side telescope sites, giant vacuum (tubeless) electronics experimental facilities, microbe/plant/animal genetic experimentation without risk to Earth organisms. Tourists, to liven things up. Medical, farming, food processing, maintaining, storekeeping, managing, as well as criminal and policing personnel. Just like on the home planet. And all of it underground.

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#67 2007-02-10 15:45:16

Grypd
Member
From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,847

Re: Lunar economics etc

PGM's are platinum group metals and this is believed to exist in concentrated sources from delivered asteroids. It is also likely that the main technology needed to get them is to dig them up and cut the parts out. These asteroids will not only have platinum etc but also silver, gold as well as probable large sources of the rare materials on the Moon like carbon and hydrogen needed for the Moon.


Chan eil mi aig a bheil ùidh ann an gleidheadh an status quo; Tha mi airson cur às e.

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#68 2007-02-10 16:48:35

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

The problem with the Moon's sunlight isn't strength, its that it doesn't shine half the month over much of its surface. Only a hand full of certain mountain tops are continuously lit, and even then only from low in the horizon and only at the summit. If the minerals you are digging for aren't present near these mountains, then getting electricity to them might not be practical. On Mars, you can get power any place you like year-round, albeit less efficiently. Having to basically abandon or close down a Lunar base every week or two for want of power is a serious issue.

I reject the idea that PGM prospecting and some of the mining can be done efficiently by remote, especially for figuring out which rocks to mine. This is better done by humans, with stereoscopic vision, better dexterity, and having the "analysis" as you go instead of waiting on Earth. Manned "hoppers" powered by domestic LOX and imported Hydrogen or pressurized rovers will visit promising sites, take/test samples, and so on. Much of the actual digging will probably have to be overseen or partially controlled on site too.

PGMs are a sufficient, and probably only, real justification for any sort of Lunar industrial activity. If fusion power ever happens, He3 would only be an extremely expensive "premium" fuel for special applications, and there is enough of it here on Earth for that sort of thing.


"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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#69 2007-02-10 17:14:42

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

Centrifuges? Unnecessary probably, uniforms with cast iron weights are the way to go.

But anyway, yes the Platinum and related rare minerals are  deposited on the Moon as meteor fragments/debris/ejecta, which will have to be located and assayed. Then the whole rock, or parts of it crushed up somehow (explosives?) would be brought back to the nearby mining camp for extraction or pre-extraction.

If carbon/hydrogen bearing rocks are found, they will probably be used to feed the mining operation (which will likely need significant amounts of carbon monoxide) and the hydrogen spent to make drinking/cooling water or for rocket fuel. If these elements are present, they won't be in huge quantities that you could go building a great deal with.

Food won't be grown a whole lot on the Moon, because it takes up so much floor space, energy, and resources that it will probably be easier to import most or all of it.

There won't be a huge underground complex to speak of really, there likely won't be really large numbers of tourists, and if there are they won't be long-term so not much space/creature comforts need be afforded. Oil rigs and cruise ships don't have lots of police forces or on-site management either by comparison.

It will be hard enough to provide pressurized housing for miners.


"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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#70 2007-02-10 20:15:56

Martin_Tristar
Member
From: Earth, Region : Australia
Registered: 2004-12-07
Posts: 305

Re: Lunar economics etc

GCNRevenger and All other non-believers,

First , I didn't say space cities, I said space settlements / colonization that could start with a small township or outpost of 50+ personnel per location, again larger than the initial developments planned by any other space agency / organization on earth. But the development of outposts of these sizes and the need to provide continuing resources for the personnel and the expansion of these outposts would require  the need for large unmanned transport / logistics fleet ( up to 10-20 vessels )

The development of the moon could come from the use in robotics that would expand a lunar outpost of 50 personnel  with several hundred droids under control that could be designed in various sizes for construction or mining or other activities. Once the various transport and stations are build the lifecycle are upwards for 10-30 years for hardware you can then concentrate on the applications / mission side and increase knowledge for space.

Secondly, the development of space will require the development of a investment platform that will lead to a cost neutral environment where the income  equals with the expense of past and future developments + running costs. That may take time but the changes in mining rights, property ownerships rights and providing the other related space services in space including space vessel construction, space supply services and accessories for outer space living. All products and services have costs and also have sell prices that could provide a source of income and the development of factories and space stations in earth orbit could also provide a source of income including sub-leasing space and tourism potential. 

I see that the unbelievers including GCNRevenger can not see the benefits and potential benefits for space, this region is like all the other business regions that have unique features just like the Internet and now every business has expanded into that virtual world environment.  The next market environment is space and the worlds within our solar system , each have unique features from different resources, climate , atomsphere, and gravity concerns, but the humanity can overcome these like they have the others and that the development of the lunar surface will provide vital services for the short, medium and long term development of space for humanity.

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#71 2007-02-11 01:30:45

Austin Stanley
Member
From: Texarkana, TX
Registered: 2002-03-18
Posts: 519
Website

Re: Lunar economics etc

As cIclops said, the key issue in this disscusion is time. I have no doubt that far enough down the road just about anything that doesn't violate the laws of physics is possible.  Right now a moon colony rightly looks impossible/impractical.  But 50-100 years from now that may not necessarily be so.

For example, the US economy grows at ~3% annualy.  More some years, less others, but somewhere around that figure is about right.  That means the US's economy doubles in size every 25 years or so.  This means that we can expect launch costs to be reduced (if only as a percentage of our GDP) by 4x in 50 years, and 16x in 100 years, even if we do not develope any other cost saving technologies in the mean time.  But of course, 50 years our a true RLV looks likely as we could the development cost (in relative dolars) to drop by a similar amount.

Likewise, we can expect progress to be made on the other issues that currently make a moon mission difficult.  Biological science will probably find a way to adapt the human body to the moon's gravity in that time frame, and may be able to do something about the dangers of radiation as well (low level doses at least).  We could expect plants to be designed to better deal with the situation as well.  Such as plants that are fairly resistant to radiation and can grow to harvest within the Lunar day?

Mini-manufacturing techniques (that is the miniturisation of industrial machines) should also be expected to advance and make manufacture on the moon moon more likely.  I have a feeling that we are on the verge of a revolution in this area now, with rapid-prototyping machines, programable lathes, millers, and routers becoming more common.

All of these factors can combine to make a Lunar colony (or an asteriod colony or any other sort of off-planet colony) more likely.  I don't see any advances in the future making such a colony intrinsicly more valuable (ie. no He3 or even plantinum mining), but if our society gets rich enough that won't really matter.  Also once a moon colony gets big enough, we could expect it's own inertia to take over.


He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense.

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#72 2007-02-11 07:21:00

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

I seem to recall that lots of people thought that internet businesses would "change everything," and look how that turned out. 90% of such new businesses vanished, fortunes evaporated, but perhaps most significantly people in general viewed such things with skepticism after the "bubble burst."

Words that make me go "uh uh:"

  • -"Settlements", this is the wrong term, people will not be living on the Moon permanently.

    -"Large fleet," is neither affordable nor necessary since the trip to/from Earth only takes three days. Even at 50% availability, thats about 25 round trips annually per vehicle.

    -"concentrate on the applications," PGM mining IS the application for the Moon, there isn't any good reason for much else.

    -"Secondly, the development of space will require the development of a investment platform that will lead to a cost neutral environment" = Dot Com babbling that will make investors think you are crazy. And they'll be right. Cost neutral? What the heck does that mean?

    -"other related space services in space including space vessel construction," there won't be any, ships will all be built on Earth where its easier. See previous posts.

    -"All products and services have costs and also have sell prices that could provide a source of income and the development of factories and space stations in earth orbit" no, again, competition with Earth is not possible.

    -"The next market environment is space and the worlds within our solar system , each have unique features from different resources, climate , atomsphere, and gravity concerns, but the humanity can overcome these."

         Sure they can, but the competitor on Earth isn't bound by these conditions or lack of infrastructure. Lots of things aren't worth it to try and "overcome," like the issues with Lunar manufacturing.

    -"and that the development of the lunar surface will provide vital services for the short, medium and long term development of space for humanity," no it really won't.

More later


"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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#73 2007-02-11 10:57:20

Grypd
Member
From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,847

Re: Lunar economics etc

The internet bubble did burst just like every body threw los of money at computers when they first became possible for home PCs. And there bubble burst too but in each case solid options came out of this and just using the internet as an example the growth in the last year in money terms and buisness done is incredible. The internet bubble was everyone jumping on the bandwagon too fast. The likes of Google and Amazon came out as well as paypal and similar.


Chan eil mi aig a bheil ùidh ann an gleidheadh an status quo; Tha mi airson cur às e.

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#74 2007-02-11 11:37:37

Grypd
Member
From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,847

Re: Lunar economics etc

For example, the US economy grows at ~3% annualy.  More some years, less others, but somewhere around that figure is about right.  That means the US's economy doubles in size every 25 years or so.  This means that we can expect launch costs to be reduced (if only as a percentage of our GDP) by 4x in 50 years, and 16x in 100 years, even if we do not develope any other cost saving technologies in the mean time.  But of course, 50 years our a true RLV looks likely as we could the development cost (in relative dolars) to drop by a similar amount.

The trouble is that as long as we are using current rockets and the basic technology then the cost of operating them will increase just as much just from inflation on the costs to make and launch them. RLVs would reduce launch costs but there is just no economic reason to make them. Apart from a possible military need that is it.

So we will have to find a way to develop the Moon to the point we are going to hunt PGMs with basically the launch infrastructure that is in place or could be in place in the next few years. Sending people to the Moon is expensive as they require a lot more tonnage to go with them just to keep them alive and to return them back safely. Telerobots on the other hand are not as effective as people but they are sent one way and unlike people can be operated 24/7 in situ. No fears over lack of gravity, no need for instant large bases.

PGMs when found and if treated on the Moon reguire a means to deliver only a few tonnes each year back to the Earth but the money value of that cargo would literally be incredible as well as a driver for a lot of industries back here. Of course there is also likely to be the gold and silver that is present as well just as a sweetner.

One of the driving forces of this will be electrical power and a lot of it. We can manufacture farms of solar cells and do it only with local materials. But we also do not really need people present at what will become a routine and constant operation. Robots operated from Earth will do this job.

Another option to reduce costs is to develop AL/O2 rockets that can burn another material easy to get from the Moon and if these simple engines can be made on the Moon then we again can reduce the most cost of operation that of items sent from the Earth.


Chan eil mi aig a bheil ùidh ann an gleidheadh an status quo; Tha mi airson cur às e.

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#75 2007-02-11 17:30:58

Austin Stanley
Member
From: Texarkana, TX
Registered: 2002-03-18
Posts: 519
Website

Re: Lunar economics etc

The trouble is that as long as we are using current rockets and the basic technology then the cost of operating them will increase just as much just from inflation on the costs to make and launch them. RLVs would reduce launch costs but there is just no economic reason to make them. Apart from a possible military need that is it.

No, I'm talking real economic growth here, already adjusted for inflation.  Basicaly in 50 years we can expect there to be 4 times as much 'wealth' around in the US.  So if we continue to spend about the same percentage of our 'wealth' on space operations, we will get 4x as much bang for our buck so to speak.

Put another way, we can expect the realtive price of space travel to drop as our society becomes more wealthy.  Sort of like how two or more car households are common in the US now, not just because Cars have become cheaper to make (although they have) but because there is more 'wealth' out there in the world for people to spend on Cars.  Similar examples could be drawn with computers or telephones, or pretty much any good/service you care to name.  We have more of practicaly everything now then we did in the past because our society has grown more wealthy.

For example, the value of the US dollar has inflated a dramatic amount since the begining of the century, however our society is obviously vastly richer.  One hours worth of work today purchases much more valuable goods then an hours worth of work in 1907.  Obviously those goods are better in quality and the like, but put another way, a person has to work much fewer hours today to meet the necesseties of life than a person in 1907 did.  Or for that matter a person in Africa (a much less wealth society) does today.

The same things will apply to rockets.  They will probably cost approximently the same amount (in 2007 relative dollars) in 2057 as they do today (assuming no new advancments in space travel).  But we will have much more money to spend on them.  Their cost, as a percentage of the total US economy (or goverment budget), will be much less.  For example, the Apollo program cost ~135 billion (in 2006 dollars) spread out over 10 years, so say 14 billion a year.  NASA's 2008 budge is some 16 billion this year, considerably larger, despite the fact that NASA gets a much smaller percentage chunk of the Federal budget now.  Simply because our society is so much more wealthy now than then.


He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense.

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