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#1 2007-01-15 11:10:23

gaetanomarano
Member
From: Italy
Registered: 2006-05-06
Posts: 701

Re: Lunar economics etc

.

so... MY (June 5, 2006) Lunar Space Station [ http://www.gaetanomarano.it/articles/009_LSS.html ] was NOT a "crazy idea"... or are they (RCS ENERGIA engineers and scientists) CRAZY like me?

.

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#2 2007-01-15 12:52:02

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

Bluntly, your space station and the RSC Energia one are not at all alike, because they are used for different purposes.


"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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#3 2007-01-15 13:01:02

gaetanomarano
Member
From: Italy
Registered: 2006-05-06
Posts: 701

Re: Lunar economics etc

Bluntly, your space station and the RSC Energia one are not at all alike, because they are used for different purposes.

ALL (earth, lunar, mars or everyplace) space stations ARE (or can be) "general purpose" ...however, you've said (do you remember your critics?) that an LSS is (anyhow) "unnecessary" and "can't remains in lunar orbit" (due to frequent reboosting, etc.) ...but russian engineers/scientists appear have a different opinion than you...

.

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#4 2007-01-15 13:52:13

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,141

Re: Lunar economics etc

I intended only to remark on the lunar surface and not what was in orbit in this thread geatanomarano. So continue it here please.
gaetanomarano Lunar Space Station

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#5 2007-01-16 03:30:55

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

I'd rather have a crappy Moonbase than the ISS anyday.

Good, because that's likely what you're going to get.

NASA can't conjur up miracles and neither can commerical space programs; both take time to develop and, more likely, a solid need needs to smack the public square in the face.

I don't think there is any major Earthly need for a moonbase.  Scientific knowledge of the moon is nice, but probably won't make any material difference to human lives. 

But if we accept "Extending Human civilization permanently into space" as a worthy long term goal for ourselves, that does create derivative needs - e.g. to reduce costs in order to achieve as much as possible as soon as possible, with whatever money we can afford to spend on it.   And that's were I think we should start thinking from, rather than "gotta have a moonbase".

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#6 2007-01-16 16:14:05

RedStreak
Member
From: Illinois
Registered: 2006-05-12
Posts: 541

Re: Lunar economics etc

I don't think there is any major Earthly need for a moonbase.  Scientific knowledge of the moon is nice, but probably won't make any material difference to human lives.

Just under a thousand years ago ancient China had the potential to become a world power.  It created a trade network with India and East Africa by sea and its sailors even saw Australia centuries before Cook.  Then a new dynasty came along and saw 'no Earthly need' to sustain outside relations, destroying all large ships and even limiting seafearing to ensure the outside world couldn't contaminate their society and also waste resources.  A couple hundred years later China was overrun by both Europeans and Japanese...

Funny how an Eastern Civilizations Class can point out how even an 'evolved' culture can screw itself royally...

But if we accept "Extending Human civilization permanently into space" as a worthy long term goal for ourselves, that does create derivative needs - e.g. to reduce costs in order to achieve as much as possible as soon as possible, with whatever money we can afford to spend on it.   And that's were I think we should start thinking from, rather than "gotta have a moonbase".

It is always a matter of how you say it, but even rephrasing it like that can be interpreted as 'Hippie'gibberish or something more accurately that's too-aloof for the average citizen to grasp.

Personally I see it as the next step.  Eventually if the Earth 'goes green' we'll have to move any pollutive industries off-planet and find resources that aren't taped out...things like uranium, platinum, rare earth metals that may turn out more common off Earth.  We can always recycle but I doubt the population will stop growing - and to sustain such a population it won't be so much moving people but as in bringing in supplies.

And on a final note, you'd be suprised how much of a tidal wave of attention 'useless things' get.  For instance...the sale of beanie babies alone at its height likely equaled, if not surpassed, the total NASA budget.  Explain how the hell that hapened if a beanie baby serves no logica purpose Mr. Spock?  There lies the trick.

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#7 2007-01-21 17:15:35

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

So, Twinsie, the trick is making the Moon profitable.  That's everyone's answer.  tongue

Well, "Streakie", if the moon could be made profitable for Earth, it'd be an answer.  I find that very doubtful, so we need a different motivation.

We can at best hope to make exploitation of the moon *locally* profitable - profitable if you're already living off Earth.  E.g. making air on the Moon so you don't have to pay to have it brought from Earth.   The ultimate sign that you have a truly profitable colony would then be that it becomes self-sustaining and able to grow on its own - but we could also consider every step in that direction to be "profit".

Once we take that attitude, does it still make sense to build a moonbase?   Except for the difficulty of getting humans there, Mars seems like a better long term choice for true human colonization.

Why not focus on :
-  Testing concepts for an Earth to Mars craft - tethers for artifiical gravity, producing food in space, etc.  Maybe get some value out of ISS by using it as a base where we can do those experiments for extended periods of time.
- Testing prototype equipment on Mars, before humans have to rely on it?  Aero-braking, ISRU, Habs, etc.  How about using aerobraking to deliver an ISRU unit that will provide fuel to a robotic "rocket hopper" to undertake multiple long range missions to evaluate possible colony sites?

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#8 2007-01-21 17:45:39

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

There is a high posibility that we can have a return from the Moon that will at the minimum off set the cost of operation and at best pay for it. And we are not talking about the possible use of Helium 3. There is also the potential of the pgms and similar for use on the Earth.

As we later carry on increasing our operations in orbit and if orbital hotels do take off and if they actually create orbital manufacturing then the operations of a moon base in supplying such become even more essential and profitable.


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

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#9 2007-01-21 20:19:49

RedStreak
Member
From: Illinois
Registered: 2006-05-12
Posts: 541

Re: Lunar economics etc

So helium-3 is the one for-sure item that could be imported to Earth.

Otherwise our answer is making a self-sustaining lunar colony.  Once fully operational it'd make a market of manufacturing satellites and spacecraft and that in turn would lull more people into space.

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#10 2007-01-22 09:47:49

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

Article by the knowledgeable Paul Spudis, planetary scientist at APL

However, if we build a system that can refuel on the Moon using locally produced materials, we create the capability to routinely go anywhere in cislunar space. Exporting fuel extracted from lunar resources will permit us to go anywhere, anytime, with whatever capabilities we need. This is the beginning of true space-faring capability. Such an environment would unleash imaginations, realize potential and expand technology, science, exploration and commerce.

In short, we are going to the Moon for one clear and understandable reason—to be able to do everything else that we want to do in space. The Moon is our school, laboratory, and foundry. The Vision begins by building a highway through the heart of cislunar space, creating a transportation infrastructure for diverse users: scientists, miners, sellers and buyers, and ultimately, settlers.

And that is why building the Lunar Outpost  is so important.

Is it feasible to fuel Mars vehicles from fuel produced at the moon?


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

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#11 2007-01-22 19:19:30

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

Feasible yeah, but not very practical. It takes as much fuel to go to the Moon as it does to Mars, give or take.


"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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#12 2007-01-22 20:04:52

RedStreak
Member
From: Illinois
Registered: 2006-05-12
Posts: 541

Re: Lunar economics etc

Feasible yeah, but not very practical. It takes as much fuel to go to the Moon as it does to Mars, give or take.

Yeah but in the even longer term its more cost effective to build and launch from the Moon than from Earth.

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#13 2007-01-23 11:41:44

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

Feasible yeah, but not very practical. It takes as much fuel to go to the Moon as it does to Mars, give or take.

Yeah but in the even longer term its more cost effective to build and launch from the Moon than from Earth.

No I don't think so. It will never be cheaper to build on the Moon. The gargantuan trouble of building space ships on the Moon far far outweighs the benefit of reduced gravity.


"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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#14 2007-01-23 15:19:04

RedStreak
Member
From: Illinois
Registered: 2006-05-12
Posts: 541

Re: Lunar economics etc

Feasible yeah, but not very practical. It takes as much fuel to go to the Moon as it does to Mars, give or take.

Yeah but in the even longer term its more cost effective to build and launch from the Moon than from Earth.

No I don't think so. It will never be cheaper to build on the Moon. The gargantuan trouble of building space ships on the Moon far far outweighs the benefit of reduced gravity.

I'm talking about something along the lines of an independent manufacturing plant.  Your line of argument would be like the British back in the 1500s saying "Oh it will never be cheaper to construct ships in the Americas..."

In short term, you're right - long term wrong.

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#15 2007-01-25 19:55:34

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

In short term, you're right - long term wrong.

If it doesn't help in the short term, why not focus directly on the real goal: getting humans occupying more of the solar system than Earth, which appears to mean exploring and colonizing Mars? 

In fact, that would get you to an industrialized moon *sooner*.  A Mars colony could grow faster, due to greater self-sufficiency, yet it'd create demand for any Lunar products that are cheaper than Earth products.

Note that I'm *not* saying "don't build a moonbase".  I'm saying "Judge it by Mars". 

MAYBE robotic lunar O2 mining would be worth attempting, since robots are getting semi-autonomous, and we're close enough to the moon to direct them from Earth.  But again - Judge it by Mars, not by "coolness" or "national pride" metrics.

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#16 2007-01-25 22:13:28

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

Nonsense RedStreak, its not like building ships on the other side of the ocean, its like trying to build submarines on the bottom of the ocean. Possible? Sure. But it will never be easier on the Moon. Its just so much easier to build things right here, where we have all the materials, industries, and conditions so easily available to us but so hard on the Moon that the reduced gravity is a trivial advantage by comparison. Never.

For every advance and capability built on the Moon, an even better one can be made right here on Earth. Once cheap launch to orbit is available, it won't even be a valid question it will be so obvious. Earth is destined to be the supplier of just about everything complicated or high performance in the entire Solar System for a very, very long time. There aren't going to be any "Lunar products" outside of rare elements, oxygen, or base metals. Maybe photovoltaics. The Moon is also a lousy place to live by comparison to Mars or a free-flying colony.


"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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#17 2007-01-27 01:21:33

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

GNC: 
While it's true for the short term that the moon isn't a likely source of complex manufactured goods, in the longer term it should get some industry. 

After all, we don't only make cars or ships or semiconductors in one country, and ship them all over the world.   And even if we get down to $100/pound to LEO, that's a heck of a lot more than it costs to ship stuff across an ocean.   

Once enough people live in a place, they inevitably build up some degree of local economy using local resources.  So we'll probably mine the moon for O2 and probablly use aluminum to build cryo-tanks to deliver the O2.  But we'll need machine shops to repair equipment.  And that'll let us modify equipment, and build custom equipment to improve mining and launch capabilities.  It'll make sense to build stuff with local materials (mostly aluminum and maybe sapphire glass) and only ship the minimum mass of components up from Earth.   So that'll bootstrap a tiny local industrial system.

When we have lunar O2 and Al mining, local machine shops will be needed to fix and modify equipment.  Inevitably they'll invent new equipment customized for the lunar environment, and it'll be cheaper to make the bulk of it from local materials and only ship in the stuff that can't be made locally.

Still, other than better solar energy density and purer vacuum, the moon doesn't appear to offer many advantages that'd make it likely to sell many finished products to Mars.

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#18 2007-01-27 08:54:30

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

Which industries? Come on, name some.

And actually we do make computer chips and ships in a handfull of places and ship them all over the world. But I digress, this analogy has long outlived relevance.

Once alot of people live on the Moon? No no, see, there isn't ever going to be alot of people living long-term on the Moon. It will be such an awful place to live and with Earth being so close, nobody will bother "laying down roots," or industries that would accompany them.

The Moon is like an oil derrick, not a mining town. And which mining towns build their own mining machines?

I also reject the idea that any sort of complicated equipment will be less expensive to fashion on the Moon from native materials because of how hard it will be to make anything complex on the Moon. Someone on Earth could take the design, build it for far far less, and ship it to the Moon and easily beat the Lunar builder.

Once we have cheap launch, there will really be no contest!


"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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#19 2007-01-27 09:03:18

RedStreak
Member
From: Illinois
Registered: 2006-05-12
Posts: 541

Re: Lunar economics etc

In short term, you're right - long term wrong.

If it doesn't help in the short term, why not focus directly on the real goal: getting humans occupying more of the solar system than Earth, which appears to mean exploring and colonizing Mars?

Because Mars requires months as opposed to mere days for Luna.  Also the Moon has industrial and manufacturing potential directly applicable to CisLunar space (cough cough Earth satellites with marketing potential).  But in short if something screws up in the short term handling it on a Lunar mission will be a hell of alot easier; remember Buzz and Aldrin DID get their experience not just on simulators but also on Gemini missions as well.

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#20 2007-01-28 08:56:32

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

Because Mars requires months as opposed to mere days for Luna.  Also the Moon has industrial and manufacturing potential directly applicable to CisLunar space (cough cough Earth satellites with marketing potential).  But in short if something screws up in the short term handling it on a Lunar mission will be a hell of alot easier; remember Buzz and Aldrin DID get their experience not just on simulators but also on Gemini missions as well.

Indeed. Mars voyages will be measured in years rather than months. There will be no alternative other than to solve problems insitu, the option to return to Earth won't be availablle. Griffin refers to the great voyages of the past where explorers were gone for years and often never returned, trips to Mars will be much more like that. We have to accept the risk that crews will be lost.

Visiting Luna will become a much more routine thing, and that's the idea. Making safe reliable trips to the Moon and steadily extending their duration will create the infrastructure and technology to enable human Mars missions.


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

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#21 2007-01-28 15:29:13

RedStreak
Member
From: Illinois
Registered: 2006-05-12
Posts: 541

Re: Lunar economics etc

Which industries? Come on, name some.

Name all the functions of any Earth-orbiting satellites and factor in Luna's low gravity and non-existant atmosphere for extremely easy launching.  What does it take to launch a few geostationary satellites typically?  An Ariane V or a Soyuz?  Something more akin to a Pegasus or the nearly-forgotten Redstone could do the same job or better from a lunar spaceport.

How much does a satellite cost?  Crunch some numbers - at least a hundred million if not moreso.  How much does communication and plain-old-HBO depend on satellites?  ALOT...and people protest those damn cell towers so don't go blah-blah about Earthly installations taking over - I drove for HOURS across several Midwestern states with no cell signal.  Billions are invested in satellites by dozens if not hundreds of various companies that depend on their services for global connections.

Now what happens when a lunar company offers to launch a few satellites at 2/3rds the lowest standard cost? (and I'm being conservative there).  There will be an avalanche of buisness.  Small nations without satellite access (more specifically the budgets) will get their own networks.

HBO, Hollywood, Internet, World Wide Web, and college kids calling mom for a loan are ALL things that won't go away anytime soon.  They all tap into satellites.  Tap into the satellite industry and Luna will be a gold mine.  Any investment into a lunar infrastructure made beforehand would be quickly paid off.

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#22 2007-01-28 17:13:00

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

Nonsense!

It will cost far far more to build the satellites on the Moon then you would save versus even regular launch by even expendable rockets (of the latter day) by the time you had the capability to create a satellite factory. In fact, I bet that you won't be able to make such a factory at all until you do have RLV's for cheap launch, and that defeats the purpose doesn't it?

Luna is an oil derrick, people will not live there, things will not be made there (except maybe solar panels). It will be, always, a mine and little else. Perhaps solar panels and tourism, but thats about it.

Edit: cheap fiber-optic cable with fantastic amounts of bandwidth due to a few physics tricks has been whuping communication satellites pretty bad lately too I do believe, unless you count specialty services (television, satellite phone/internet).


"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 2007-01-28 19:50:43

RedStreak
Member
From: Illinois
Registered: 2006-05-12
Posts: 541

Re: Lunar economics etc

Nonsense!

Ok stay on Earth and croak with the rest of the dinosaurs dumb ass.

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#24 2007-01-28 22:29:50

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

Re: Lunar economics etc

Red Streak, that's a useless answer, and dumb besides. If you want to make communications satellites on the moon in 2100, where will you get the computer chips? The transmitters and rectennas? All the electronics that receive, clean up, amplify, and retransmit a signal? What about rocket engines, gyroscopes, and the very comples valves that turn on and turn off fuel flow with great precision in spite of extreme conditions of heat, cold, and vacuum? These things are made on Earth in multimillion dollar factories with highly complex machines that pay for themselves because they make many copies of each part. You couldn't easily make such machines in Earth, take them apart, pack them against 5 gees of launch acceleration, reassemble them on the moon in a very expensive pressurized facility, and make a profit with them. Some of them might not even work properly in 1/6 gee and would have to be redesigned, which would be yet another expense.

Maybe someone could take spare parts and cobble together a satellite or two, but the work to produce those prototypes would itself be expensive even if one were recycling used parts.

And I very much agree that the moon won't have a permanent population for a very long time. The key question is the effect of 1/6 gee on health, especially on pregnancy and children. No society has ever been created that does not or cannot have children. The vast majority of people are committed to have at least one child some time in their lifetime, or at least to have children around. I'm sure one could find people who don't want children to go to the moon, but you'd have to recruit more constantly and some would return to earth anyway. We also don't know that people can adjust to living permanently in underground facilities with only occasional excursions outside.

Mars is different in this respect; bases can be built to admit much more daylight and the landscape looks more terrestrial. Its 24.6-hour diurnal cycle is easier to deal with. It's 0.38 gravity probably is easier to deal with (though we don't know that yet). Its gas and mineral resources are much more useful and abundant. We can predict that Mars will have copper ore because we know it has water and basalt; we can't predict that the moon will have copper ore because it has basalt, but no water (an essential ingredient for almost all ore formation on earth). Without copper ore and many other natural resources, even manufacturing of basic things like electrical wire may involve terrestrial imports!

                     -- RobS

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#25 2007-01-29 01:14:26

RedStreak
Member
From: Illinois
Registered: 2006-05-12
Posts: 541

Re: Lunar economics etc

Mars undeniable has more but Luna is too close to ignore; just because its been visited briefly doesn't mean its terra boring or useless.

Microchips as they are likely won't remain that way for very long - optronics for instance is more heavy on glass on silicon which the Moon is bountiful in even if copper is lacking.  With weeks of sun available not just power but heat perfect for smelting which'd be a tad tricker on frigid Mars.

Initially any lunar facility would focus on basic construction but rather than relying on some feign technology like warp drive and the space elevator I'd put my hopes in a Lunar colony.

If people aren't patient enough for developing the Moon do you honestly think they will be moreso far Mars?  You discover a fossil there if you're lucky but it quickly becomes yesterday's news in our world for better or worse.

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