Saturday, January 1, 2011

More on the Space Cannon

I could have been a bit hasty in saying that the Space Cannon concept is around the corner.  So, I spent some time today on the subject to see if anything there looks different this time around.

Here's a wikepedia entry on the man, John Hunter, who presented the video which I had linked to in the earlier post.  There are a few more links about the man from the wikipedia entry to check out, but information is sketchy.

This presentation is a little over a year old, so I am looking for signs of progress since that time.  He is on a 8 year time table according to the presentation.  So, it has been a year.  What has been done in the past year?  It's a bit hard to tell from where I am standing.  This comment is the most recent I can find.  It doesn't tell anything.  In fact, it isn't even relevant.

In his presentation, he admits that he is not a rocket scientist, but his concept will require one.  That's because the projectile that he plans to put into orbit with his space gun will need a rocket to get into orbit.  Also, he says in his presentation that he will meet some venture capitalists for funding.  I wonder how that went.

If, by any chance, that things went well, sometime in the next few years, there could be an IPO for his company.  A lot will have to happen before that can occur, however.  For one thing, he will need a customer.  Most likely, even at this point, his only customer is likely to be NASA.  Maybe some private companies can use this service,  however.  I am not well versed on the subject enough to make a guess on the probability of that.  If he can secure one big customer, like NASA, he could be on his way.

So, in the end, his problem is that he could have a technology that needs a customer.  Without a mission from NASA or a private customer with a need for his service, it won't matter if his idea will work or not.

Now for a dash of speculation.  What if you were to employ this concept on the Moon?  It would be a way to avoid using much propellant.  And it would be better than a mass driver.  That, according to Hunter.  The trick would be in getting the gun up there.  But a lunar version of a gun like this wouldn't have to be nearly as powerful.

If a version of this gun were to be used to move lunar volatiles to the equatorial region so that a Moonstalk could be built, that would be interesting, yes?

Vasimr to Mars?

Here's a YouTube video on the VASIMR.  More about the VASIMR in a September article in The Space Review written up by Jeff Foust here.  The Space Review article is about proposals to use VASIMR for a Mars mission.

It looks like Zubrin is in a big hurry to go to Mars.  A Mars mission looks too ambitious to me.  Put up the lunar infrastructure first.  That is a better use of the VASIMR technology.  A 500 meg nuke reactor is mighty big.  Too much to get up there and to power that thing.   Zubrin is right about that.  But he may be wrong to try to push for a Mars mission too soon.

Just my two cents.

Interesting comments in that article as well.  All well worth a read.

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Hello, 2011

My first post of the New Year.  The year 2010 is now for the history books.  The history for 2011 begins today.

I didn't stick around late last night in order to watch the New Year come in, or the Old Year go out.  There wasn't anything interesting to do.  It didn't seem worth it to me to stay up.  So, I retired at the normal hour and now I am back at work on this blog.

The first thing I did this morning is to check the gold price.  It is near the all time high, over $1420 an ounce.  I suppose I can congratulate myself on my good judgment, for I remain bullish on gold.  But, to be bullish on gold is to be bearish in another way.  That's because gold does well in an environment of uncertainty and fear. That is not a good sign, not something to be celebrating.  The old year went out with a whimper, the new year is not off to a great start.  This is my indicator, gold is, and it bears watching.  And watch it, I will.

I've had this feeling that the wrong people are in charge of this country.  But what can I do about it?  There is little that can be done but to suffer through this until the right ones get into power.  The new Congress will be sworn in soon, but I am not so sure that this will make a big difference.  The sickness that plagues this country runs too deep for one election to cure.  That sickness is called Liberalism.

That last sentence may lose a lot of readers.  I may offend people who might ordinarily like reading my stuff. But why hold back on what I believe?  I tell it like I see it.  If I can't do that, what's the use of having this blog?

I like to study things and to think it through to a conclusion.  The conclusion is that the left does more harm than good.  But people keep voting for it, so we have to accept that reality.  There is little you can do to get people from swallowing the same old snake oil that is making them sick in the first place.  Until such time as enough people will see the light and abandon the left, we are stuck with them in power.  Their influence is a plague upon us all.

This brings me to the solution for our troubles.  It may sound crazy that outer space holds the answer to what the problems are on the ground, but I that is the conclusion that I am coming to.  Why have I come to that conclusion?  It is more complex that I have let on.  There could be rather profound reasons for why this is so.

But that thought causes me to segue into another thought.  Is what a person's choice for doing something more related to reason or to belief?  What if belief conflicts with reason?  Do you abandon one for the other?  Can two conflicting ideas coexist in the mind at the same time?  I think not.  Something has to give.  So, when I say that space has the answers, is it more based upon belief, or upon reason?  If reason doesn't support my belief, then idea of space holding the answers must give way.  I will state that I am open to such a possibility.  That's because I think reason can trump belief.

Boy, that statement could get me into a lot of trouble.  It appears that I am knocking religion.  But not exactly. I am knocking the tendency to attribute to reason that which is proceeding from belief.  The two are not necessarily compatible, as I mentioned above.  All too often, the two ideas get intertwined and mixed up so that one can't tell another one from each other.

I think that is one of the things that the left is doing wrong.  They are claiming the mantle of reason, but they are really proceeding from the position of belief.  That doesn't mean that conservatives are immune from this though. Only that the left is definitely doing it.  I hold some hope that conservatives can be a little more rational. But being right isn't enough.  It will take some guts too.  On that score, I am not quite so sanguine about conservatives.  Conservatives need a bit more moxie, in my opinion.  When they get that, I will be a little more confident.

So some of us go boldly marching into the new year.  Who deserves to be more confident?  The man of reason or the man of faith?

Friday, December 31, 2010

Al Fin: Choking on Affluence: Decline of Western Ambition

Al Fin: Choking on Affluence: Decline of Western Ambition

I don't know if this has anything to do with what Al Fin is saying, but let me relate it nonetheless.  As anyone who has read this blog knows, I've been blogging pretty heavily about space exploration.  The reason is that I got a bit of an inspiration from reading Mining The Sky: Untold Riches From The Asteroids, Comets, And Planets (Helix Book).   From this I concluded that every problem being pointed to as a problem can be solved if we turned our attention to the stars, not to the mud on the ground.  So, in that spirit, I go to Huffington Post and post a comment on what I believe to be true.  What happens?  I get insulted, that's what happened.  I kept researching this since that time, which is about 3 months now, and my hunch is turning into conviction.  Not only are the answers in the sky, but it is very likely to be possible to do this in the near future.   Much nearer than many people seem to think.  So I go back to Huffpo and post again.  What happens?  Nothing!  Not one person bothered to respond.  I would think that this should have been received with enthusiasm, but no.

If people here in the USA don't get it, somebody else in the world will.  Things will not stand still just because it doesn't fit our ideas of being convenient to the way we want to think.  Get with the program or get left behind.


It has come to my attention that the blog has eaten the comment function for this blog.  My apologies.  I tried to add a moderation feature to the comment function, but having done so appears to be blocking comments.  Now, for some reason, it won't allow me to change it back.  This was not by design.  It was an accident.  I will work at trying to restore this function, but Blogger has to cooperate.  So far, no can do.

Inasmuch as the blog has received few comments, it can easily be seen that this was not my intention.  I would prefer comments.  This must be a Blogger glitch. Just the same, I seemed to have initiated the problem.  So, once again, my apologies to anyone who may want to leave a comment.  I am working to fix the problem.

Update (immediate):

Now it seems to be working again.  Go figure.  This thing needs some serious time on the couch.

Guitar Hero

Larry indulges himself in a Guitar Hero fantasy.

New Year's Eve

It hasn't been one of my customs to pay much attention to these New Year celebrations.  For me, it has always been just another day.  That must seem rather drab, and maybe it is.   So, I will try something a little different this year.  I will pay attention to it.  I'm paying attention to it now by writing about it.

So, what do I write?  I can write about my own year.  What kind of year did I have?  In terms of making money, which is one way of keeping score, this year wasn't good.  That's two bad years in a row.  Now, that's a positive thing right there.  By paying attention to this, I can keep score better.  What do you know about that?  This New Years' stuff may be useful after all.  Let's take it a little further then.  Why did this year not go so well?

I could blame it on the rotten economy, but this area is doing better than a lot of the rest of the country. Somehow, this doesn't seem to reflect well upon my efforts.  I need to understand why this is so.

I have spent most of the last 4 months working on this blog.  I want to make it a money making proposition. So far this isn't even close to being realized.  It is generating a little revenue, but not much.  Certainly not commensurate with the work I'm putting into it.

I guess I can use this as an opportunity to explain my business model for this blog.  I may have done this already, but at the risk of repeating myself, here goes:  The business model is the media model.  The media model depends upon attracting an audience for advertisers.  Once the audience is attracted, this is a selling opportunity for them.  This is what they are paying me for:  my ability to attract an audience.  If I can't do that, I won't get an audience and I can't sell what I don't have.

Well, actually you can sell short in the financial markets, and I have done that and made some money by it. But when you sell short, what you are really selling is your hunch that something will go the way you think it will go. It ain't the thing itself, it is some knowledge that you are putting to the test.  But I digress.  Let's move on.

Some folks may wince at the idea that I am selling my audience.  Some may say, don't do that.  People may not like the idea that they are being used that way.  But I look at it this way.  You use me, I use you.  It is a fair trade.  I give away my product, which is my time, in exchange for your being here.  I entertain and inform you at no cost to you except your time.  In exchange, you will allow me to sell something to you (through the advertisers).  But people don't like commercials.  Yet nothing comes for free.  There is a cost for everything. Economics 101: there's no such thing as a free lunch.  You gotta expect to give something if you want to get something.  Putting together a blog like this takes a lot of time and energy.   Why else would anyone do this if it weren't for some type of reward?

And so, I don't mind telling my small audience these facts.  That's because this blog is about truth.  Or truth as close as I can come to it.  I am not trying to BS anybody here.  Everything that I am trying to do here is on the level.  No tricks, no gimmicks, no BS.  If I can't attract an audience, this blog will fail.  That's the bottom line. Secondly, the blog has to get action.  An audience by itself isn't enough.  People actually have to be sold on something.  Again, there is no free lunch.  My advertisers don't pay me for nothing.  If they don't get something out of this, they'll stop doing it.  And then I am out of business.

I look at my blog now and it ain't bad.  Would I read it if I wasn't me?  In order to answer that, I would have to come up with some possible motivations for me to come to a blog like this.  As you may figure, one reason I may have is to figure out a way to make money.  Well, I do a bit of financial stuff here.  Is my info good enough that people would find it useful to come here?  I'd like to think so, but frankly, there may be better sources of information than this blog.  Another motivation is entertainment.  Maybe I'm not so good at making these videos, but Wishbone-T is getting good at it.  I've got him as a contributor here.  That's two motivations, what else?  That's an X factor because it is unknown.  There's an X factor here.  Who knows what makes something successful v unsuccessful.  It is often an intangible thing.  Something you can't put your finger on exactly, but you know it is there.  I hope I have that in my favor.

But so far, no cigar.  I'm working on it.  But I have worked on many projects before, all ending in failures. Again, maybe that is not so good to talk about here.  But again, there no BS'ing going on here.  I'm laying it out on the level.  There's no guarantee of anything.  Frankly, I like it that way.  I'm not asking for guarantees, just the opportunity.  I can live with the outcome no matter what it is.  After all, this isn't a job.  It is a business.  A businessman takes his chances and has no guarantees.  It's the freedom baby.  ( A little Austin Powers lingo there.)

So far, it looks like another bad year.  But if a successful little ol' blog like this can be born in it, it would be a good year indeed.  And I don't like to lose.  We'll see.

BTW, I have watched the Power of Intention on PBS a few times.  I find it fascinating. But why buy it if you can get it for free by watching PBS's fundraisers?  I've given money to PBS before.  What the heck?  I know it isn't "conservative", but I like the programs.

You can buy it or watch if for nothing.  But if you buy it, you can watch it anytime you want, instead of waiting for it to come on.

I don't have to buy this because I have so many books of this type.  I have already paid my dues.  Yet, I may buy it anyway one of these days.  But I don't have it now.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'm still on the job

Watching the financial markets, that is.  As I have predicted all along, inflation is coming our way.  If you don't believe that, take a look at the Reuter's Commodity Index:  (CRB)

This shows that the index is where it was in 2008, when the CPI was trending higher, as I recall.  This spike in the commodity index may not have shown up in the official inflation numbers yet, but it is just a matter of time when it does.  After all, it did back in 2008.  This chart is worrisome.  There hasn't even been a recovery yet, and inflation is around the corner.  What will the Fed do if inflation spikes like this?  Things could get hairy.

A 64K dollar question

The Cato Institute asks if NASA can compete with Spacex.  After the last few posts, I think the answer is becoming obvious to me.  Two of the more significant developments (in my opinion), the VASIMR and the Space Cannon, are private initiatives.  Throw in Spacex, and it looks like NASA is out of a job.  Well, maybe that's going a little bit too far, but it gives you the general idea, does it not?  NASA isn't at the forefront anymore.  Neither in cost nor performance.  I'd say again that NASA should go into survival mode  if they want to hang around.  Otherwise, they will go away.  The world will see to that.

Hat tip: Transterrestrial Musings

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The Elements of a Space Exploration Infrastructure

This will be a short post that will summarize what I've found so far.  It is liberally sprinkled with my own speculations, which, if you would like to see it that way, would be like taking it all with a grain of salt.

First of all, the Space Cannon could launch fuel to a depot in LEO.
Space tugs powered by VASIMR propulsion would take payloads to EML-1
Conventional rockets would take payloads from there to the Moon and build a Moonbase
Using the Moonbase, aggregate materials from the Moon in order to facilitate construction of a Moonstalk
The Moonstalk at EML-1 (after its construction) would enable construction of another one at EML-2
From there, go to Mars and repeat by building a Martian space elevator.

All of this may seem too far-fetched, but the VASIMR techonology could be the kickoff for all of this.  And this technology is about to be tested on the ISS.  The Space Cannon is a near term probability, in my opinion.

We already know most of the rest, except the lunar space elevator.  But this wouldn't require any new special techniques nor materials.  If you want, you could also see these ideas or concepts as a type of combustible mixture that just needs a spark to get it moving.  Once VASIMR and the Space Cannon get proven, which I think is high probability (bold statement there, since I don't know what I'm talking about), the rest of this falls into place.  (Another bold statement, but if you're going to go, then go all out.)

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tennis, anyone?

Let this guy win if you play tennis with him.

The Future of the ISS

I have been subconsciously and loosely following this outline.  I wrote a little further on the topic here.  On that post, I suggested taking the ISS to L4 or L5.  But rather than doing that, why not take it to L1?  The reason for this is so that it can serve as mass for the eventual construction of a lunar space elevator.   Or rather than taking the entire station up there, take only the parts that would be the most useful.  It would be useful to keep portions of the ISS in LEO, I would think.

The idea of deorbiting the ISS and sending it to a fiery doom seems like a terrible waste.  Surely, the basic materials alone are worth something even if their only value is as a counterweight for a lunar space elevator.  It is consistent with in situ resourcing- "living off the land", which Zubrin has been writing about.  It is the principle behind the idea of recycling the shuttle's external tanks, which I have been writing about.  It will save the money that it costs from having to launch from the Earth's deep gravity well.  No matter how much launch costs can be reduced, it would still be good practice to economize where practical.

The ISS is scheduled to last until 2020.  It is never too soon to think about what comes next.

Update: 12/29/10: 9am

If a space cannon can get fuel up to a space station, that would be helpful way of utilizing the cold box idea I wrote about here.  The cannon can launch the fuel, then dock with the cold box and unload its fuel.  After making its drop, the projectile can reenter the atmosphere and be refilled over and over again for launches into space.  Keep launching these projectiles and filling the cold box until it is full.  When the cold box is full and since the rockets are still attached, fire them up which takes it to EML-1 and mate them together until you have the necessary mass for the lunar space elevator.

Update 12/29: 1:00 PM approx.

Found this webpage about a future moon base on the lunar south pole.  Interesting.

Also, I added a new website (see left side bar under news and info) from one of the Google ads running on my page.  Its a space elevator blog.

Update 12/30: 6 am approx.

The space cannon idea above is said to be relatively cheap ( 250 dollars per pound) way of getting payload to orbit.  It is said to be able to do 1000 lb payloads.  The below is a video about using this concept to fuel rockets that can explore the planets.

One of the things it can launch is argon fuel for the VASIMR propulsion system which is close to being tested on the ISS.  This could be a valuable technology in its own right, and its just around the corner.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's worth repeating

So, I will.  They have these on the Moon too.

No news is good news

Did you ever notice that about news?  It isn't news unless it's bad.  If it's good, well, that's too boring.  When it comes to this blog, I want it to be positive.  I know that doesn't make it news, but if I want to get depressed, I'll read the news or watch it on TV.  Who needs that?  I'd rather be uplifted than beat down.  The bad news bears in the media can have it.  I'll take my approach, even if it doesn't get ratings.


Here's a great column in the American Thinker on the birtherism phenomenon.  This topic comes up from time to time and it is useful to caution conservatives not to get caught up in this stuff.   The article shows that this is just another way to smear conservatives as racists.  In fact, it was the Democrats themselves who brought up this issue in 2008.  The media was quiet as a church mouse when it was raging in the Democrat primaries.  Now all of a sudden, they are interested.  There is only one reason for that. 

For me, Obama is an American citizen, and that makes him eligible for the Presidency.  End of story.  There are plenty of other topics of interest about this guy, but not that one.  Let this one drop.

Out and about today

I like to take walks in order to get some exercise each day.  Normally, I just walk in the neighborhood, but this time I decide to go somewhere.  Where did I go?  To the mall.  It's a nice big mall, but not a new one.  This mall has been around for as long as I can remember, and I have lived in this town almost my whole life.  It's called Memorial City, which is on the west side of  Houston.

This mall has evolved a bit since earlier times.  Perhaps not everybody knows it, even those who have lived here a long time that there is a skating rink here.  The rink is relatively new.  There's a large medical center being built across the street.  An elevated and covered walkway is being built across the busy street that runs between the mall and the medical center.

In another part of the mall, there was this hover toy that was getting some attention.  I took a picture of that too, but it is really hard to see.  The little gadget went for 300 bucks, so I decided to take a pass on that.

It's interesting that such toys exist.  I didn't know about that.  Now I have seen toy jets (real jets) that were remote controlled.  I wish I had a video of it.  This plane that I saw looked just like a fighter jet.  Once it landed, you could see that it was a toy.  While it was in the air, it looked like a real fighter jet.  Anyway, I circled the hover toy at the mall (not the jet) so that you can see it.

  While I was there, I met an interesting man who was selling perfumes.  I gave him my business card.  I hope to hear from him again.  Perhaps he will come by here and say hello.  If not, I know where he is now.  That almost sounds like a threat.

Thunder Horse

This idea of Mining The Sky for its mineral wealth has its counterpart here on the ground, or at sea.  Just to show that big projects funded by private funding is definitely possible, witness the Thunder Horse PDQ drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico.  Construction costs came in at 5 billion dollars.

I think it is worth noting that "tethers" are used in construction all the time.  Most folks just don't see them that way, but the principle is the same.  For example, the cables in a suspension bridge perform the same function as they would in outer space.  They join pieces of the bridge together in order for it to function as a single unit.    As for the Thunder Horse Platform, it is likely that it uses cables to secure it to the floor of the Gulf of Mexico.  It is a lot simpler and cheaper than building a huge structure that would tower above the floor of the ocean.

The trick would be in how to employ these techniques in outer space.

By the way, while reading Zubrin's novel, First Landing, I noted that in the story, there was this part about precious minerals on Mars.  I can't confirm this, but it would be a commercial incentive to go to Mars, provided that they exist there.  It is probably too expensive for private enterprise to launch rockets and such, but if some infrastructure could be put up there, it may become a reality some day.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Methanol synthesized from solar power from space powers hydrogen fuel cells

I came across this pdf file in 2005 or so, when I was looking for information about energy production. This concept uses carbon dioxide from a fossil fuel plant and a nuclear power plant to synthesize methanol. It hydrolyzes sea water and then combines the carbon dioxide with hydrogen to produce the methanol.

The two types of energy production, fossil and nuclear work together in order to produce energy and recycle the by products of combustion, carbon dioxide.

Looks like a simple reaction, as explained below:

What does this have to do with space?  Well, rather than use nuke plants, set up a space station that generates solar energy and beam it down to Earth.  The energy supplied from the solar plant can hydrolyze the water and create steam just as the nuke plant does.

 Then recycle the carbon dioxide from the hydrolyzing of methanol at the distribution point for hydrogen.  The hydrogen can be used in fuel cells.  The hydrolyzing of methanol allows methanol to become a convenient way of transporting hydrogen for use in fuel cells.  The process can be used to collect carbon dixode as well as hydrogen.  The hydrogen gets used in the fuel cell, the carbon dioxide goes back to be recycled back into methanol, as indicated above.  This will close the loop and make the process carbon neutral.

Talking football with the professor

Sometimes it is hard to tell what someone with a thick accent is saying.

Lunar Space Elevator

I will be studying this concept today.  There's a pdf file that I managed to download from this source.  I got the idea from van Pelt's book, which I wrote about previously.  Van Pelt mentioned Jerome Pearson, who is the one who collaborated in the study that I will be reading today.

The thing that got me interested is the Deep Space Station that I've been writing about- which could be used to deploy the cable that would extend from the station down to the lunar surface.  Once the elevator is operational, matter can be gathered from the lunar surface and aggregated to the anchor point in space (through EML-1) where the station can disengage the newly completed elevator, and install another one elsewhere- perhaps on Mars.

I'll check back in when I finish reading the file.


Mon., Dec. 27th, 10:00 am approx.

Well, I've finished reading the pdf.  Here's a key extract I obtained from the doc.

The DIRECT concept currently in the works would eliminate the need for ion rockets, I would think.  The tanks could fire themselves up to L1 and be joined together to form the counterweight for the lunar space elevator.  So, my idea concurs with this report, if I am not mistaken.

Update 2: Tue., Dec.28, 2010:

Here's a good idea from that pdf:  collect space junk and use it for mass for the lunar space elevator.  The lunar space elevator needs mass and it would be cheaper to get it from space than launching it from Earth or the Moon.  It can serve the dual purpose of cleaning up all the space junk which is a hazard in itself and converting that hazard into a resource.

Another idea for mass is mine.  By surrounding the ET with aluminum covered with shuttle tiles, the ET can become a fuel depot as well as a mass anchor for a lunar space elevator.  A fully loaded ET can weigh over a million pounds.

If you were to keep all six ET's I proposed together at EML-1, that would be plenty of mass.

Another idea occurred to me: after putting the shuttle tiles down, you could put thin film photovoltaic cells on top of it.  That stuff comes in sheets.  Since it is lightweight and comes in sheets, it should be easy to do this.  You could think of the box surrounding the ET as cold box that keeps stuff very cold inside, but also as a scaffold for solar power that can power the entire station and then some.  These ideas combined together can be said to be synergistic.

Update 3: Tue., Dec. 28, 2010, 7 am. approx.

Looks like there needs to be a lot of mass lifted into space for the counterweight.  Here's the key passage for this from the pdf.  Launch costs of 24 billion.  I wonder: could this be merged with the Moonbase expenditures in order to consolidate costs?  There's overlap in the two propositions, that's why I pose the question.

Chris Laird's newsletter

Here's what Chris writes about in his last newsletter.  Go to my product pages and click on his link if you want to subscribe.

Newsletter - Edition 247 - 26 December 2010

By Christopher Laird

China Raises
Time wise on market crash
Savings, investments or what?
Markets for the next two months
Japan and the US Central banks – world CB


There may be higher interest rates ahead everywhere.  I agree.  Bonds can't rally much further without going into negative interest rates.  Won't happen.

As for a market crash, I don't know what's holding it up.  You could say QE but several months went by without a major selloff and no QE.

He talks about some people he knows who may ride the market down.  They are depending on investment advisers.  In my opinion, any advice you get depends is subject to the knowledge and ability of the advisor. You may want to double check track records.

He's pretty concerned about a market crash.  He appears to be in the deflation camp.  I'm not.

The reason I am not is, if that happened, the government can't pay its bills and will default.  They would rather inflate than to see that happen.  Just my opinion.   I think a 70's stagflation scenario is more likely.  How long that will go on will depend upon developments.  If a real live wealth creation event occurs, this will save everybody's bacon.  There are many possibilities, but there is also the possibility that nothing may come of anything.  If that happens, I may need to reevaluate.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

First Landing

Late yesterday, I downloaded a copy to my Kindle of First Landing by Robert Zubrin.  By the way, one thing about these Kindles, they are instant gratification for books.  If you feel you've got to have a book right now, by golly, you can have it right now with this gizmo.  I bought this one back in 2008 with the tax rebate as stimulus. Those stimulus checks were supposed to prevent a recession, but they failed, didn't they?  But I digress.
I managed to read about a third of this book and may finish it in the next few days.  Initial impressions are positive.  It is the first of his books that I have read and I like his writing.  It is a work of fiction.  Not everything he does is fiction, I understand.  Those familiar with his work don't need to be told that.  I will not try to belabor the obvious.

It got me to thinking a bit about Mars.  The idea occurred to me that with an atmosphere, you may be able to fly from one play to another like we do on Earth.  It would be a bit different, of course.  Flying craft on Mars will need to carry oxygen, which isn't necessary for flying craft on Earth.  But with all the carbon dioxide, there will be plenty of oxygen that can be separated from the carbon, and that can make both the fuel and the oxidizer.

You could move ice from the polar regions to the equatorial regions with aircraft.  You wouldn't have to consume the water, just the carbon dioxide.  The combustion would return it to the Martian atmosphere.  Net zero carbon footprint on Mars.  How 'bout that?

If people went to Mars, wouldn't it be a good idea to set up an airstrip?  That would depend upon the ability to make the aircraft that could fly on Mars.  Something to think about anyway.

For what it is worth, even though I don't believe in man made global warming, I could see something to agree with those who do.  For example, you could do something in space, such as make solar power and beam it back to Earth.  This shouldn't go into the grid, though.  It should go into making methanol.  I will explain this idea in a future post.

You have to have a way to get to Mars, or for that matter, to space.  But what else have I been writing about?


Sun. 12/26/10

Just finished the book.  Zubrin has a synopsis of Mars Direct, his vision of a manned exploration of Mars.  Evidently a trip to Mars was not as cheap nor easy as was envisioned.

Someone has to get the blame.  I'm no fan of Obama, but I think the Bush administration blew it.  The new Ares launcher system was encountering cost overruns.  This wasn't necessary.  The mission could have been accomplished with essentially the same hardware as the Shuttle program was using.  That approach, which is the one now being pursued, would have had the best chance of staying within budget.

Now Zubrin proposes in this book that "living off the land" and a big new launcher was needed, like the one in the same class as the Saturn rocket that went to the Moon.  Zubrin had it about half right.  Most likely, the new launchers is where it all went wrong, since the Constellation program required two of these.
Time has been lost, and yet more time can be lost if the dissatisfaction that exists with the new DIRECT shuttle derived launch system derails the new approach.  Will this indecision and confusion be resolved and a definite course be decided upon that will survive multiple administrations and budget crunches?  The space program seems to suffer with each new change of political control.  If that's where we are headed again, then more trouble may lie ahead.

Here's a video from a YouTube friend.  I've posted one of their videos before.  Their videos aren't super popular, but they are interesting.  More popular than this website, though.  But I am working on it.