Saturday, December 18, 2010

Another alternative to Moon landings

Joseph Friedlander has a guest post up at NextBigFuture which is titled Setting up an Industrial Village on the Moon . It looks like another method of getting matter up there to the Moon in order to make a permanent presense there.  But there can be no permanent presense unless there's an economical reason for being there. What could that be?  He's looking for a way to bootstrap a colony.

The ideas he mentions say nothing about space elevators or tethers.  Rather, it is looked at from another angle entirely.  In order to get matter to or from the Moon, or from one location to another in general, a method is needed in order to protect the cargo.  The way that he mentions, which by the way, I like, is to use explosions as a decelerator. That idea isn't new, as the Russians used it in the sixties for hard landings on the Moon.

The trick is not to avoid crashes, but make the crashes not quite so hard, so that will not cause disintegrations. The remainder of the mass that's not disintegrated can be salvaged.  This makes setting up a Moon base more economical.

As the old saying goes, there's more than one way to skin a cat.  It can indeed be an economical way of getting materials up there that can be used to build that permanent presense.  Is there yet another way to skin the cat?

I suggest this: why not used controlled crashes to ship stuff from one part of the Moon to another?  From the lunar base to a equatorial base?  Use mass drivers on the polar base, and then catapult the cargo to the equator.  Then send up the cargo by way of a space elevator to the space station that I mentioned earlier.

Why send it all the way from the Earth if the goal is to be more economical?  It could be used to send materials not found on the Moon from the Earth, but for matter that is already there on the Moon, try this other way instead.

At San Jacinto

Just got back from the San Jacinto Battleground.  I went there to take some pictures. The location really isn't unfamiliar with me since I've been there many times before.  But this time, I decide to look around the park and get the lay of the land.  I took several pictures ( about 25 ) of the various markers which show the disposition of the opposing forces on that day in 1836.

I wanted to get the feel for the situation on the ground just before the battle.  How did Santa Anna manage to get beaten so badly?  It was more of a slaughter than a battle.  Sam Houston's army didn't suffer that many casualties; hardly more than a handful.  On the other hand, Santa Anna lost hundreds of men and/ or hundreds more captured.

No doubt, the element of surprise figured significantly in the outcome of the battle.  But looking over the terrain, it is hard to see how anyone could manage to surprise anyone else.  The land is very flat and the grass and bushes don't provide much cover.

I recall reading that Houston's army used a "rise" as cover.  I looked for these and didn't find many, but there are some places that are low.  Of course, the closer you get to the marshes, the more cover there is.  Unless Houston's army was hanging out in the marshes, he didn't have all that much cover.

Another possiblity was the tall prairie grass that grew in those days.  The park management is trying to bring that back, but it is still too low to the ground.  In those days, the tall grass couldn't have shielded a larger force than what would appear to be the case today.

The battleground doesn't look all that large in area.  But one has to keep in mind that they didn't have cars in those days.  I found out the distances when walking around the park a bit.  Things have a different scale when you are on foot.

Sam Houston was shot out from under his horse in the midst of battle.  There was a marker there to indicate the spot.  Just a hundred yards away or loss is another marker for the position in which a cannon was in place.

That seems pretty close range for a cannon.  But Houston was hit by a bullet in his ankle.  Given the surprise, the Mexican army may not have had time to get off a cannon shot.

Marker where Sam Houston was shot from his horse.  About 100 yards from cannon marker.

Of course, there is the legend of the Yellow Rose who distracted the Mexican general with her charms.

Note: this picture wasn't taken today.  I took it several months ago.

What a misfortune for Mexico to have that kind of failure as a leader.  On the other hand, the Texians were lucky.  There was at least one other General in Texas during that war who would not have made that mistake. Just goes to show what could happen when the wrong man is in charge.

Santa Anna was captured.  And Fannin and his men were massacred at Goliad under Santa Anna's orders.

Both are examples are poor leadership and its consequences.


You know what?  This blog is dying out here.  No audience to speak of.  Instead of crybabying about it, I decided to do something about it.  I am considering having a contest.  You will be able to have an opportunity to win a prize.  How much of a prize?  I haven't decided yet.  But it can't be huge.  Maybe not even big.  But something.

If it is a go, then I am going to advertise this contest, so there could be plenty of contestants.  Hopefully they'll be plenty of contestants.  Here's what I'll do.  I'll give a heads up here and let my normal readership have first shot at entering.  If anything goes wrong and/or nobody shows, I will cancel the contest, but still give a winner a consolation prize for participating.

The winner will be based upon picking a winning lottery number.  No, it is not the Texas lottery, just their winning numbers.  In order to win, you have to enter.  I'll have the contestants pick 6 numbers between 1 and 50, which corresponds to the Texas lottery numbers.  I think I'll have the winning numbers selected from the results of the next Wednesday's drawing.

Here's the procedure.  The numbers are sorted in ascending number.  We'll chose the winner on the basis of the match in order of the increasing numbers.  For example let's says the winning numbers are 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30.  If you are the only one who picks 5, you win.  If nobody picks 5, we go to the next number and repeat the procedure.  We'll go through all 6 six numbers until we get a winner.  If there is no winner, or a tie, then we'll use this procedure:  tell a joke.  The joke I like the best, wins.

Here's how to enter.  Select your six numbers between 1 and 50.  Tell a joke.  Put this into a comment to the go post.  You must send an email to me as well.  In the email, put a pin number of at least 6 digits.  The pin number is necessary in order to identify you.  Your pin must match your identification in your comment. Do not put the pin number in the comment.  Put it in the email plus your winning number that you selected.  This has to match what your commented and emailed.  If you can't identify correctly, you can't claim the prize.  Please note:  I do not want your email addresses!!!!!!!!!!!  I am not doing this to put you on a spam list.  This is just a way to promote this blog.  That is all it is.  So, don't worry about my intentions.  Please.  This is legitimate, ok?

If you are the lucky winner, then you must claim the prize.  If you win, you must send me your mailing address so that I can mail you a certified check.  You have to include this information, or I can't send you the prize money.  Again, I am not interested in selling your information.  So, please don't worry about it.  By the way, this has to be an address here in the USA.  I won't mail to a overseas address.

I will put up the post with the winner numbers from the lottery and you will have to come back to see if you win.  Also, if there are no winners from the lottery numbers, I will have to select a winner based upon your joke.  In that event, I will post the winner here.  But you still have to claim the prize in the procedure that I have mentioned.

Any comments or suggestions are welcome.  I will let you know if the contest is a go.  Let me know something, please.  Participate in the poll at the bottom of the page, or make a comment or give some feedback after the go post.  This is not the go post.  I will tell you when it is the go post.  That should happen sometime today based upon the response here.  That way, I'll know if I want to fool around with this idea much further.

I will update with any changes if necessary.  That is all for now.  Stay tuned.


The ad has been up for most of one day and I see no response.  Let's do this: if there is some indication of an interest in this idea, then I'll consider doing it.  Until then, I won't spend time on it.  This blog is okay as long as it doesn't cost me money.  I can deal with it if I can 't make money with it, but I can't spend money on it if there isn't any response to it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Best Art in the Universe? Hubble Space Telescope's Amazing Pics From 2010

Best Art in the Universe? Hubble Space Telescope's Amazing Pics From 2010

Out and about in the neighborhood

You wouldn't know that there was a recession going on at the mall.  It was jam packed.  Nowhere to park.  Not every mall in town is this busy, but this one definitely is.

Today was a rather dreary day weather wise.  A little cool, but very cloudy.  No rain, though.

I took some pictures, but they aren't that good.  Here's a picture of somebody's house with their decorations up.  They are in the spirit of the season.

It's a little hard to see because of the gloom.  Can you see the word "JOY"?   It is a little to the right and in the middle of the picture.

More on the External Tanks

This is the next of a series (to view these, click on label at end of this post) on recycling the External Tanks on the Shuttle derived launch platform, which is now in NASA's budget as the heavy lifter for future space missions.

It occurred to me that a minor redesign of this system may be necessary in order to optimize it.  For instance, what will come of the rocket engines after they shut off?  It may be more trouble than it is worth to try to recycle those.  If you can preserve most of the external tank, that could be a good start in implementing this concept.  Let's propose that the rocket engines be jettisoned and a third stage be built inside of the external tank. 

This may be a preposterous idea, yet, what to do about that rocket engine?  It is in the way, and it would be helpful to jettison it so that the external tank can be put into higher orbit.  If the rocket engine and the big hydrogen tank can be jettisoned as a unit, that could be even better.  This would free up a lot of space inside of the external tank outer shell.  The remaining oxygen tank can be used for habitat and storage.

Now, in the old Shuttle system, there was an intertank module which was located between the big hydrogen tank and oxygen tanks.  If a rocket stage is put in there to replace this, it can be used to push out the big expendable rocket engines plus big external tank assembly, and then provide thrust to move the shell into a higher orbit.  The shell would be preserved along with the oxygen tank.  Perhaps this third stage can be preserved as well, or it can be recycled, which ever is more desirable.

Naturally, you want to facilitate the remaining work in order to finish converting this into a space station.  Let's start by placing bolt holes in strategic locations so as to allow multiple tanks to be bolted together.  Subsequently, up to 4 of these tanks can be bolted together in and spun at 2 rpm in order to generate artificial gravity. 

But before that is done, the tank will require some work.  For that, two of these tanks can be tethered together in order to produce .1 g of artificial gravity as mentioned in an earlier post.  The artificial gravity will facilitate the wet engineering of the tank.  (It is easier to work in gravity than having to work in zero gravity.) 

By the time two tanks are ready, they can be reeled in and bolted together.  Two more tanks can be processed in a similar fashion giving 4 tanks in the final configuration. 

Before the entire system is bolted together and/ or tethered, a docking facility can be launched and put into place between the two pairs.  This should be at the center of gravity.  The docking facilty will have to set up in such a way as not to introduce instability into the spinning station. 

That might be easier said than done.  In additon to the foregoing discussion, it may be necessary to include some small thrusters in order to keep the system stable.


What would this cost?  A shuttle mission went for about half a billion.  Multiply this by 4 and the cost of launching 4 of these would be comparable, I would suspect.  Throw in the costs of reburbing the tanks and bolting them up into a big station, and you've up to a couple billion.  Double that and you've got the cost of an aircraft carrier.  We could afford it.  The payoff could be huge.


Additional thoughts:
Two options for ejecting the rocket motor and big hydrogen tank  1) using rocket exhaust from internal stage, push against a plate in the same way an internal combustion engine pushes a piston, or  2) use an electric mass driver concept to eject them both away.  In both instances, the matter ejected can be thought of as reaction mass. 
Spinning the station can produce an electrical current within the magnetic field of the Earth.  By supplying one aboard the station, these two fields can repel each other thereby creating rocketless propulsion.  Or it can supply electricity for the station.
Perhaps it is possible to deploy the station at EML1 and deploy a tether which would extend all the way to the lunar surface.  Cargo and maybe even crew can be sent to the surface and back.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Moon Shot that may never have happened

If enough people thought the same way during the Apollo Era as they do now.


This is one of those types of words that's associated with paranoia.  But the saying goes, even paranoids have enemies sometimes.  I know that whenever I hear the word "conspiracy", I tend to dismiss everything that comes after.  Given that, what happens when evidence points to the existence of a conspiracy of sorts.  Is it time for a padded cell?  Or some meds?

Yes, I am getting suspicious of something.  But what it is I don't exactly know.

It could be one of those bits of common knowledge that evidently didn't make it to my cranium.  Or am I seeing something no one else is seeing?  Am I the one eyed man in the kingdom of the blind?  In that case, I should be king.  But no, I am definitely not that.  So what's going on here?

I am being purposefully vague here.  Let me try to clear this up the mystery just a little.

As some of those who come here may know, I've been writing pretty frequently about space.  This is a relatively new topic for me.  For years, I haven't paid that much attention to the subject.  Yet lately I have.  It came to my attention that there is trillions of dollars worth of precious metals and so forth in the asteroids.  One would think, why isn't there any interest in mining these if they exist?

Naturally, I know that if you find a super rich deposit of gold, this may not be so good for the price of gold.  Once all that supply hits the market, down goes the price.  If you have a gold mine, its value will go downhill pretty fast.  But consider this: at one time aluminum was considered a precious metal.  Would everyone prefer that it had stayed that way?  Look how useful aluminum is.  Although once it was rare, now it is so plentiful that people have to be encouraged to recycle it.  Otherwise, it goes into the trash.  Now try to imagiine if gold was so plentiful that people had to be encourged not to throw it away.  What kind of world would that be?

I think the principle here is the principle of scarcity.  No, worse than that.  It is the principle of forced scarcity.  The same kind of thing that a monopoly will do.  Or a cartel.  It is definitely not the principle of a free and open market.  Rig the markets so that the price will remain as high as possible.  Then rake in the profits.  It is good for the monopolists, not so good for their customers.

My suspicion is that there is no interest in this because it is not in the interests of those who have great wealth.  Now I am definitely not one of those lefty types that rail against the rich.  I've written in favor of the institution of capitalism.  Yet, here I am knocking the super wealthy.  Yes, I think they are behind this and a few other things as well.  It all seems to come together in a conspiracy to hang on to their power.  In order to accomplish this, the poor must remain that way.  You see, if everybody is rich, what good is it in being rich?  Wealth has to be hoarded and keep from the masses, you see.

If my theory is correct, the lure of wealth in the asteroids is a threat to these people.  It must be beaten down.  It must be discouraged.  It must be denied.  By all means, it must never be fulfilled.  What would the rich do if their wealth didn't mean what it has always meant?  You would think that, given the "concern" that so many of the wealthy have for others, that they would be the most enthusiastic about raising the material abundance in this world.  But that is not what they are concerned about, in my opinion.

Yep.  It may seem crazy, but it sure looks that way to me.

Yomama bin Gomez

Wishbone's Mexican rassler video

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fox editor urged climate skepticism

What a weird way of saying something. How do you urge climate skepticism?  Maybe a Indian rain dance can end a drought, perhaps? Dance a little harder, maybe it may change the climate or the weather or whatever.

Is this news? Should it ever be news?   Why should skepticism about a scientific theory ever be treated as if it were news?  It can only be news if it has achieved some sort of religious status.  The mere mention of skepticism in that regard would be treated as heresy.

As for the priesthood of scientists prosletizing upon this claimed phenomenon, here's their two cents for what it is worth:

  “The body of evidence that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming is overwhelming,” a group of 29 scientists wrote to Congress in early December 2009. “The content of the stolen e-mails has no impact whatsoever on our overall understanding that human activity is driving dangerous levels of global warming.”

No, it wouldn't have any impact since you guys have a vested interest in saying what you are saying.  You are preaching to the choir.  You are telling your bosses who pay you what you know that they want to hear.  There isn't a tax or boondoggle that left doesn't like.  Unless it is for something that might actually be helpful.


I had a hard time getting this thing uploaded, but finally here it is.  Let's call this video:  Mr Porkins feels the heat and sees the light

Bloomberg article

The story over at Bloomberg claims that the dollar will strengthen which will hurt gold.  While that may be true in the short run, it hasn't been true over the last few years.  It also points out that consumer prices rose only .1 percent last month.  Yet, commodities have been in a rally since last year.  Could I be wrong about something?

I decided to go back and take a look at the commodities index over a 5 year period.  It seems that a peak was reached in 2008 which coincided with the 150 a barrel oil price.  Then it slumped during the recession, as might be expected.  Since early last year, it has been steadily rising.  I think this is a reflection of the quantitative easing which is intended to reflate the economy.  Evidently, this is working.  On the other hand, this is exactly what was done in the early part of the 2001 recession.  This showed up many years later in the above mentioned spike in oil and commodites.  It also filtered into the consumer price index that year, according to my recollection.  So, the point being, that even though inflation isn't here yet, (according to the consumer price index) it will get here eventually.

The article also claimed that this will hurt gold, but it didn't do that during the last business cycle.

In the meantime, the Fed can pump prime the money machine.  This gives them the green light.  But does it solve any problems?  Not really.  As I mentioned before, it will only buy some time.  During that time, the policy makers had better get some problems fixed.

Captain Kroogie saves the day

Since the State software requires a download, I've been forced to go back to the website.  My bandwidth is getting maxxed out, so I don't want to download a big file just yet.  So, here's my latest video with a new character, which I will call Captain Kroogie.  It also features another character, but you will have to watch the video to see that one.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

JPMorgan denies it holds 90 pct of LME copper stocks - Yahoo! News

JPMorgan denies it holds 90 pct of LME copper stocks - Yahoo! News

About those ET's

Let's see: Van Pelt's book discusses artificial gravity.  From that discussion, I show four External tanks bolted together and then rotated at 2 rpm would give you an approximation of Mars gravity.  It would need a docking facility and some habitation modules.  It wouldn't need the internal tanks, so those can be melted down.  The metal could be used as shielding.

Just bolt the external tanks together with the docking facility in the middle of the station at the center of gravity.

The docking facility would need to be a fancy bit of hardware, though.  As the station is rotating, there would be a need to avoid putting torque on the docking spacecraft. It may also need a braking device so as to stop the spacecraft from spinning when with the rotation of the station when departure is desired.  Perhaps a clutch- this to keep the docking facility stationary so as to allow docking.  It could be released after the transfer in order to allow everything to spin with the station.  When departing the station, "push in the clutch" to disengage the rotation of the station, then apply brakes to stop the spacecraft from spinning, and then undock and then depart.


A need for those rocket engines must be found.  Otherwise, they may to get melted down or deorbited.  I was thinking, why not detach them from the "bottom" of the tank and reattach them somewhere so they can be useful in moving the station.  A good spot to reattach could be at the center of gravity on the opposite side of the docking port.

In addition to propulsion, there needs to be a climate control feature for the station.  The side facing the sun will be hot and the opposite side will be cold.  Just set up a Stirling engine to redistribute the heat and generate electricity for the station.

By the way, this topic is interesting to me, so I'll keeping adding to it from time to time.  As a reminder, all posts here are classified according to topic, so as to make it easy to locate similar posts.  Just click on the label at the end of the post in order to see all posts related to this or any other topic.

Update: 12/16/10

Trent Waddington at QuantumG's Blog proposed a tether which will enable artificial gravity of .1 g.  I was thinking, it would be a lot easier to wet workshop these external tanks if they were tethered and separated thusly.  When the construction was completed, they could be reconnected and then spun to Mars gravitation.

Laying that guilt trip on thick

Aaron Sorkin has joined in the kick Palin chorus.  It's the old emotional manipulation of laying out the old guilt trip. Sorkin wants Palin to feel ultra guilty.

Sorkin was furious that the documentary showed Palin hunting and killing a caribou. Although she made it clear that she intended to eat the animal, according to Sorkin, she had committed an act of murder and torture. 
Notice how it has to be justified on the grounds that the animal had to be eaten in order for this to be acceptable.  But even that justification isn't even acceptable to Sorkin, who wants to push vegetarianism, if one is to take this to it logical conclusion.

Why does Palin have to justify herself to Sorkin?  Why should Palin have to justify herself in hunting caribou for whatever reason?  Who cares what Sorkin thinks?  Evidently, there are those who do.  Hence, the technique is used because it works.

The left can use this tactic in order to manipulate others.  It only works if you accept their moral authority.  But who gives Sorkin or any others like him the moral authority?  Question their authority, I say.  They don't have any unless you recognize it.

Here is an previous example that I posted on this phenomenon.  

Bleep the rich

That was a sign that was left after a couple of arsons near Boston recently.  Actually, it wasn't "bleep" it was the f-bomb.
The Cape Cod Times has the story of two recent arsons, one in Barnstable and another in Sandwich. “In both cases, the arsonist left a calling card, the message, ‘f--- the rich’ at the scene,” the Times reports.

Now, the question is this:  what is intrinsically bad about being rich?  Leftism seems to have issues with wealth creation.  This must be the case, since, in order to have wealth, somebody, somewhere has to be rich.  If nobody is allowed to be rich, from where does the wealth come?  Before Obama can "spread the wealth", it must first be created.  But if wealth itself is unacceptable, what is the alternative?

The above story isn't an isolated instance.  Just go on Huffpo and look at all the venom directed at the rich. What is in the mentality of people which creates such hostility?  How does one being rich make another poor?

If all are poor, then all are poor.  If some are rich and others are poor, the poor are still poor.  At least some are rich.  It would seem like progress.  But if no one is allowed to be rich, where does the progress come from?  What's so "progressive" about being poor?

Dustin Towers, man of mystery

Why you should read this blog

This post is long overdue.  After all, for someone who is busy, and values their time- why should they come here and spend the time it would take to read my stuff?  After 3 months of this, I am finally getting around to an attempt to answer that question.

Everybody has to make a living, and so do I.  For right now, this blog is my job.  The job that I did have, as a delivery driver- evaporated with this recession.  That work enabled me to have a decent living, but with things the way they are, I needed to take a new direction.

People might underestimate delivery drivers.  It may surprise you, in case you didn't know, that drivers can make a decent living.  It isn't like being a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, but it isn't that bad for an ordinary Joe like me.  So, for many years, I was basically satisfied with it.  Yet, I always had this ambition that remained unfulfilled.  Believe or not, I have a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science.  My grades weren't bad, but things just didn't come together for me.  I didn't get a professional career going, but I got by.  Now this recession business, and I am in a bit of a quandary.  How do I solve the problem that I face now?  Looking at my history, this doesn't give compelling reasons to take me seriously.  Now, that's a tall order to overcome the kind of skepticism someone would have after reading all that.  Why should I be so bold as to say that you should read my blog?  To answer, I would say: challenge your assumptions.

The assumption- that my history doesn't do much to recommend me- pretty much identifies my problem with promoting this blog.   So here is my solution:  don't believe me, just believe the people that I cite here.  I will stand on the shoulders of giants, so to speak.  These people have the creds.  All I am doing is pointing in their direction.  You don't have to believe me, just believe them.  My first goal is to point in the direction that may yield some promising ideas.

That's number one.  Number two is that most people have the same problems that I do.  They have to make a living and that isn't easy these days.  That brings me to the politics part of this problem.  Let's face it, our politicians are failing us.  Since we have a democratic form of government, it is our duty, meaning the public, to correct this problem.  The way to do that is to hold the politicians accountable for their screw ups.  This latest recession has a lot to do with a lot of screw ups that have been taking place in our government.  Somehow, some way, we have to got to do better than what we are doing.  It is my hope that I can do something here that might help.  I could be dreaming big time, but I have to try.  There is no other option, besides crawling in a corner, curling up into a fetal position, and sucking my thumb.  Not a very adult way to deal with one's own problems.  So, political accountability is a second goal, and a second reason to read this blog.

The third reason is these ideas can be worth big money.  Yes, BIG money.  For example, I have been writing a lot about space.  Before I began, I had no idea of the material worth there is waiting out there in space.  Yet, the conventional wisdom is that it is just too difficult a job to do to take advantage of it.  But, again, challenge your assumptions.  What I think that I've been able to show through these giants whose shoulders that I am standing on- is that this isn't necessarily so.  Access to space is available to us with the technology that we already have.  Now if we can use this, we just may be able to create a completely new growth industry which will provide the jobs that will enable us all to do what we want.  But not until we challenge our assumptions and start looking at new ways of doing things.

So this is my vision.  What do you think?  Would you like to join up?  If so, stay tuned.  More to come, but you have to show some interest at least.  This doesn't come cheap.  I have to spend my time here too.  If it doesn't pay me, then I will have to think up something else.  Click on some ads if you can.  Buy some stuff, or make a donation.  Or, just read it, and think.  It isn't going to kill you.

Some speculation about tethers

I got this idea last night, but it was late, so I didn't write about it.  Let's say you put up several shuttle external tanks and connected them together with an internal tether.  That would keep them all together.  Then spin them around to give artificial gravity.  Now with all the space inside, you could build a lot of habitat.

There is a lot of mass that can be utilized in the tanks after they get into space.  This could be converted into shielding from radiation in space.  The tanks' structure can provide protection for the tether so that it won't break down fast.  Actually, it may last for a very long time with all that metal around it.  Now, if you can get enough lunar regolith around the inner perimeter of the tanks, you could make the space station very robust.

As for lunar regolith, I got another idea from van Pelt's book that I recently perused here.  Set up the lunar elevator at L1 to the surface.  Then send up lunar regolith on the elevator.  The advantage of a lunar elevator is that it can be made from already existing materials.  Nothing new has to be invented.  Just set the thing up and it will probably work.  But people probably don't believe that though.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Here's a video by WishboneT.  Not too bad, eh?  Wishbone's got a nice creative touch.


I thought I might add that he plays a pretty mean fantasy sports game.  He's a bit of a fanatic at it.  As for me, I really never got into that, but he's big time on it.  If he would post here about that, I'm sure my site would benefit from it.  Maybe he posts on it on his own website, but I rarely go there.  The link is in his profile, by the way.

Pet Peeve

I guess this is just a problem for yours truly.  But this internet service that I've got is a wireless system and it is limited to 5 gig a month in data.  This is something I didn't consider nearly two years ago when I signed this 2 year contract.  But the 5 gig is starting to look pretty limiting.  For instance, I just went to the Xtranormal site to download an update for the state software package that I've been using for these cartoon videos.  But the download file is over 200 meg.  That just won't do.  It is way to easy to go over the limit if I keep up at that rate, so I have to pass on these updates.  Not only in this case, but in many others. 

I have to watch these automatic updating programs, too.  They'll start grabbing bandwidth right and left, and before you know it, I can't access websites.  In my opinion, it is just sloppy management of these software creators.  Their programs are too big and too buggy.  With all these software updates, its a doggone miracle if you can get anything done.

All right, I feel better now.

You gotta love these guys

Yeah, Krugman is at it again.  The debt problems of this past decade was all Bush's fault.  Never mind that this has been a long term phenomenon and nothing he suggests doing is going to make it better.

Twenty years ago, the average American household’s debt was 83 percent of its income; by a decade ago, that had crept up to 92 percent; but by late 2007, debts were 130 percent of income.

Sure, debt is down.  That's because people are spending less, which is what they should be doing.  But Krugman wants the government to spend more.  This is where I disagree.  Spending and spending alone does not help.  In the sense that it increases debt without commensurate benefits, it makes the problem worse.

Spend money on wealth generation.  Not just to prop up aggregate spending.  Stimulus doesn't work.  Even Bush did that.  (remember the 300 dollar checks?)

The story of today

Was that a federal district judge in Virginia has declared a key provision of Obamacare to be unconstitutional. Congress exceeded their authority.  ( No kidding.)

It looks like this judge was a Bush appointee.  Most likely, in a liberal Supreme Court, this law would survive. That is a chilling thought.  The Supreme Court will get this case and will most likely uphold it.  But the court is now leans conservative.  One more liberal appointee will tilt it leftwards.  Makes you wonder then, why did conservatives of any stripe even consider supporting Obama in 2008.  I know the news sounds good today, but it is fragile.  But the 2008 election is water under the bridge.


Here's another story which is a bit chilling.  Breyer claims Madison reluctantly added the 2nd amendment. Ed Morrissey, formerly of Captain's Quarters blog, writes that Breyer's claims are dubious.  But as one of the commenters said "what difference does it make?".   Since when do judges get to unilaterally rewrite the constitution?  Breyer was a Clinton appointee.  Get enough of these guys, and we off to a leftist statist government.

Ay, Caramba!

Quickie post here.  Checking out Rand Simberg's post's  In Which The Truth Is Revealed,  , the comments vaguely remind me somewhat of this post I wrote awhile back.  It could be Politics Schmotics time again. Hopefully, this won't happen.  I wouldn't want to lose the enthusiasm that I found lately.  This kind of thing can wrest the optimism right out of you.  I worry about posting there, I could get clobbered like I did at Huffpo.

Apollo 13

I'd like to discuss something about that mission, which was depicted in the film starring Tom Hanks.  The thing that struck me about it was the makeshift CO2 filter that was improvised with available materials.  They had to work with what was on hand.  There wasn't any other way to deal with the problem.  What if you could formalize this process so that you can fix any kind of problem that you face?  Instead of waiting for something to be invented, improvise something with the materials that are available.

Now let me turn my attention to the problems we face in manned space missions.  If we were to apply the same process as was used in solving the CO2 problem on Apollo 13, here's what to do:  1) inventory what's available 2) brainstorm ways to use what's available that could solve the problem and 3) decide upon the best possible plan using those materials that are available.  Note that the process requires the use of what's available at the time and place in which the problem exists.  The problem can't be deferred until some other time, but must be solved in the here and now.  Now, the question:  could an effective solution be found using the technologies and techniques which we already know so that these problems can be solved?  Well, let's do a thought experiment and see.

Here's a partial inventory of what I've written about   1) space tethers,  2) recycling the external tank, and 3) a moon base.  No moon base actually exists, so perhaps that has to be deferred until later.  However, men have landed on the moon, and any landing is a temporary base.  It looks like it can't be done now, but you can get back to the moon with the rocket technology we already have, so it could be included in the inventory of proven technologies.

Alright, here's a proposal.  Launch two shuttle derived external tanks, which are already in the plans for the future.  Recycle these two external tanks and make them suitable for human habitation for a long term space presence.  In order to move these tanks to a higher orbit, use electrodynamic tethers that would provide rocketless propulsion in order to move the tanks to a higher and safer orbit.  When a lunar base has been set up, bring those lunar materials so that they could be used for this space station.  The lunar materials would come in handy in construction of the space station.   They could provide life support and radiation shielding.

Once enough material is in place the way that it is needed, things are shaping up nicely.  But, how to solve the weightless problem?  With a tether between the two tanks.  By spinning the two tanks around each other at a distance of that would enable 1g of artificial gravity, the gravity problem is solved.  The tanks would be oriented lengthwise and habitation would be stacked inside the tanks from "bottom" to "top".  The shielding would be on the sides and the stacks could provide shielding themselves.  Toward the center is where the most shielding could be in place and where the crews would spend the most time. 

Now, what if you want to move this station?  How do you provide thrust to move it to where you want?  How do you get into it and out of it?  These are questions that can be answered with the materials and technologies that are already available, I would think.

What could you do with this station?  If it could be moved to any location we want, it could be used in exploration.  Provided that the life support could be adequate for durations of up to two years, it could go to Mars as was planned in the Constellation program.  Or it could be used for mining the asteroids over a long term mission that could bring back a lot of useful stuff.

If you set up a bolo to ferry materials from the lunar surface, this can enhance the above concept.  Consider this quote from Space Tethers and Space Elevators

However, if we require continuous transportation of
cargo or astronauts between lunar base and Earth, tethers
may prove to be a superior solution.

How could this concept be used?  By setting up a modest bolo system that ferried small amounts of matter over a period of time, a significant mass could be accumulated.  Use this mass as per above and you could accumulate significant amounts of shielding and life support materials to sustain the base over long periods of time.

Now this may raise the objection that it isn't in spirit of the Apollo 13 formalized process of improvising with what is available.  However, considerable experience has been acquired in using tethers in space.  It may take extensive experimentation to get these up to speed in order to make this work, but the concept isn't far fetched.   Technically, it isn't ready yet to be included here, but it could get a lot closer if work began on it, and building upon what is already known.


I've done a trace of this idea from the first post on tethers here.  From there, I went back to Centauri Dreams, and got Paul Gilster's post on Space Tethers and Space Elevators.

This can seen as something of a reference for these ideas.  The labels for this post can give additional information.  Think of it as a kind of bibliography.  It's not formalized as one may like, but it may do.


Yes, this post is haphazard, but I keep finding things in van Pelt's book.  Here's another concept to consider in which he devoted an entire chapter: disruptive technology.  When a new technology is in its early stages of development, it is not well received nor accepted.  But over time, its advantages become disruptive and make the old established ways obsolete.  He gives two examples which I will cite in this quote:

The steamship and the car are just two examples of new technologies that dramatically disrupted the status quo, even when at the time their use did not seem to be required and their benefits seem insufficient to warrant further investments.  Space transportation now appears to be ready for a revolution as well.  Even though conventional rocket propulsion can support all we do in space and has only relatively recently reached its maturity and become trusted, the limits of its performance capabilities and economic possibilities are already in sight. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Space Tethers and Space Elevators

This will be some preliminary comments on the book that I have just finished.  The author, Michel van Pelt, works for the European Space Agency as an space analyst and team leader.  The book is a little short of 200 pages which took me a little over a day to read it all.

Here are some quotes that I want to cite and comment upon right off the bat:
The key to keeping the development of space tethers going appears to be
It will require considerable advocating, publicizing, convincing and lobbying
to keep development going, and that may turn out to be even harder than meeting the technical challenges.


If it is even harder to keep development on space tethers going than the
technical challenges themselves, then future of space exploration would
appear to be doubtful.  Why?  Are the technical challenges for tethers
that extreme?  If you can't prove an ability to overcome the technical
challenges, what's the point?  You have to believe that you can, or you might
as well give up.  I can't say that I like that much.  It is too negative.

Here's another one that make me feel a little more optimistic:

Complicated momentum exchange tether systems still have a
long way to go before they can be considered operational
technology.  The costs of their development and deployment
into space probably mean that they will be economical only
if they are used to transport many spacecraft on a regular
basis.  However, if we require continuous transportation of
cargo or astronauts between lunar base and Earth, tethers
may prove to be a superior solution.


This is more like it.

Getting matter off the moon is what you should want.  The more matter, the
better.  It could be lunar regolith for shielding for example.  In addition:
fuel, precious metals, and possibly manufactured goods.

Ways to use tethers continuously should be not that hard to find.

One idea is to build a large space station using lunar materials picked up
by tethers and delivered to a location where they can be collected and used
as construction material.

Update:  Here are some links provided by the book

Space Elevator? Build it on the Moon first.

NASA engineers, Tennessee college students successfully demonstrate catch mechanism for future space tether

This one isn't in the book, but comes up in a google search next to it.

Tethers Unlimited


I have added a new poll about Space Tethers.  It is near the bottom of the page.

YouTube video channel

A fellow YouTuber gave me a friend invite and I said okay to that.  I was so busy that I didn't have time to view any of her videos.  (This may be a couple, but the user is listed as a woman)  There are other reasons I can't watch her videos.  I am on a limited bandwidth, for one.  Anyway, I am linking to one of her videos here.  I just watched it and I think it is interesting.  It is about "Sinterclaus".

Keeping my rear in gear

Well, today is Sunday. This is a day of rest, and I think I need it. What
I mean is that I'm getting a little off center here. Someone might raise
their eyebrows to that and say "oh?".

Yeah. I've been knocking myself out here. I feel pretty proud of my work
here, even though it may not appear to be much, I keep after it constantly.
And I feel a certain exhiliration from every little tiny step in progress
that this blog makes. But I can't let that get me off center. Those little
things make me want to work even harder, but there are other priorities. When
those get neglected, you can get yourself into a bit of trouble.

So many thoughts rush through my mind. I have to manage them. Otherwise,
the ideas get lost and never make it here. If that happens, it's a shame.
But life is that way. So much gets lost in the hustle and bustle. So many
things to do. So little time.

I'm going to remind myself in this post that I want to remember to do a
few things. This helps me keep my focus. One thing I want to cover in
future posts is this topic: keeping centered. How does one do this? I
tell you saying it and doing it are two different things entirely. Having
a day of rest or reflection or meditation or whatever has to be a part of
that regime. The major religions do it. Not that I consider myself a
religious man, but if so many people through the ages do this, it must be
a necessary thing. I wouldn't rush to cast off a practice that has
served so many people for so well for so long.

So, I am going to slow down and meditate, cogitate, and ruminate. At
least for five minutes anyway!


By the way, yesterday was this blog's best day yet.  I want to thank my readers
for their support.  Another thing I want to remember is to be grateful.  So, thank
you all very much.