This topic was created by BristolBachelor.
<b>SPACE</b> the final frontier
This is our place to talk about all things space. Feel free to join-in, regardless of whether you are just interested or are a real-life rocket scientist!
OK, here's a question
We want to build a big space habitat, large enough for lots of people to live on - and do useful work (as well as zero-G disco of course). Until then, we're just visitors to space. And I assume we'll need gravity - otherwise it's not really a permanent presence.
So which is easiest? To go off and capture an asteroid for materials and manufacture it in space? Or to build it in bits on earth, and fly it up there and assemble? I guess I'm asking is the 2001 big spinning space station possible, or even worthwhile, when you might be able to hollow out, seal and spin an asteroid much more easily?
Neither is going to be easy, or quick of course. I guess for either to be practical, we're going to need to assume better technology for getting to orbit.
Or do we have a chicken and egg problem that's going to keep us out of space for centuries? We haven't got the raw materials, or the means to process them up there. And it's really hard to launch them. You can't do manufacturing in orbit without practise, but you can't support a large permanent presence without a facility big enough to be self-sufficient, which you can't build without the raw materials, that you haven't got the infrastructure to mine, or the rockets to lift...
There's raw materials and energy for the taking, just as soon as you've got up there with sufficient kit to start you off. Then you can achieve close to self-sufficiency, and then start export to earth.
Permanence in space has always seemed just over the horizon, if only we could make a few big pushes, and make a sustained investment. But is it actually such a mess of huge, interlinked problems, that it will take centuries? Leaving space to the scientists until then...
Re: OK, here's a question
I'd go for the hollowed-out asteroid approach. Much less crap to lift into orbit - structural materials are right where you want them. You could send up teams of miners to do the main prep - maybe even do it on a commercial basis (got an asteroid here guv - already hollowed out for you).
It would need some international agreements of course : who owns the asteroids anyway? Also, there's the problem of how you control the placement of them (assuming there is a desire to bring asteroids closer in to Earth).
Re: Re: OK, here's a question
I think an asteroid makes most sense, but the question is, how do you do the first one?
What are the miners going to live in while they build it? What are they going to build it with, and how do you get it there? Once you have a factory in space, you're laughing, and everything else is gravy. But getting that first one built might be incredibly hard, hence my question about it taking centuries. The ISS has cost $100bn odd, and only houses 6 people (plus the odd visitor).
As you say, there's an arms controls aspect to all this. What's to stop a government with a bloody great rock on a rocket, from dropping it on someone they don't like? Although that's true of a big enough space station too. But I think the political problems are mild compared to the technical and financial ones.
Re^3: OK, here's a question
I guess the first one has to be kicked off in an automated fashion. Assuming you've licked the problem of mining in a vacuum and have a machine to do most of the work, you start out by hollowing out living quarters. Nothing fancy - just a space which is lined appropriately for insulation and air-tightness.
Then hollow out equipment sheds/docks to hold the cool gear that the miners will use to do the more refined job of structuring the thing in accordance with its intended use.
Then you move the miners in.
Before all that, though you have to design a power plant which has sufficient megawattage to satisfy all needs (including particulary the excavation). That has to be delivered and installed before anything else happens. Probably before this you have to select the asteroid and move it to where you want it - strapping something to it, or maybe something more clever.
Gonna need some geologists (or is that asterologists?) to survey and choose the appropriate asteroid.
Lots to think about, so little time.
Maybe the answer is simple : get China (eg) to announce that it has plans to mine/convert asteroids, and see how quickly the rest respond.
I think that the theories about putting an asteroid in orbit just don't allow for their about mass and inertia. The amount of fuel you would need to alter its course to get closer to Earth, and then alter it again so that it is captured by Earth's gravity must be staggering. I think you'd be better off looking at that piece of rock that's already in orbit.
But it doesn't stop there. Just think what you want to build your disco from, then work back from there. You'll start with a mini digger (always fancied one, personally), but then you'll want to sort the rocks, crush them, melt them, mix them, cast them, shape them..... eventually you'll end up with a piece of metal of 5kg that needed 1,000,000kg of stuff on the moon to make :(
I think that for the next 100 years, it's going to be pre-fabricate it on Earth, ship it to orbit and bolt it together there. As for the cost of the ISS, I think a lot of the costs that make up the numbers were the very expensive shuttle launches, and the amount of work performed to work out "how to" rather than actually doing. I think that the repeat orders of living spaces and common equipments will be a lot lower.
The technology I'm waiting for is the one that overcomes inertia. Come on Higgs, where is your Boson, and how does it work?
Re: Moving asteroids
I can't say I have a handle on what it would take to shift an asteroid. I guess it boils down to 'how badly do you want one?' I agree that we'd be better off looking at Near-Earth Objects, but there might be claim issues there (a bit like if someone were to start mining in Antarctica).
Mining the metals to be used might be a bit over the top in the short term, but given that the asteroid itself provides much of the structure, maybe the needs aren't too onerous. I'd be interested in what actual mining engineers think of the problems.
I concur on the technology to overcome inertia. It's in my list of 'Three things that would revolutionise space exploration' - the other two being Instantaneous Communication and Cold Fusion. All three preferably, but I think any one would change things dramatically.
Re: OK, here's a question
(got an asteroid here guv - already hollowed out for you).
but we did need to lift a few thousand tons of polyfilla to fill all the cracks.......
we did fill all the cracks didn't we??
WTF? why are we doing a civil engineering project without having a civil engineer on board...
er Huston, you have a problem
Re: OK, here's a question
You'll need water and air to survive.... guess where it started! Antihydrogen fusion!!!
Relativistic Perturbation Mantle.... antihydrogen fusion in a self contained sphere produces Sprites above thunderstorms. Anti-Nuclear-fusion "Mantle" produces high energy photons for the aether/dark matter for the universe. This is the first stage in water and air production for the universe. Energy-helium spun off to the moon- Carbon sealing in the fusion- Oxygen in massive quantities that stores as liquid slowing the process back to Carbon sealing this fusion generator in,then it starts to burn/convert the first Carbon carbon ring to high energy photons, this is a new discovery that allows for Compton Scattering to take place. Mantle produces the background photon for our biosphere as well as rejuvenate it.
Re: OK, here's a question
I have made a discovery in Lightning physics that revealed the very centerpiece of our worlds. Since the beginning of time lightning effect on hydrogen has been producing anti-hydrogen. One form of this is a Gamma ray producer 12 ft. ringed sphere, Relativistic Perturbation (Mantle)
For 4.5 billion years... lightning in earths atmosphere has been producing this self contained sphere utilizing rings of Carbon, Liquid oxygen surrounding a sphere of fused negative energy (anti-hydrogen fusion). Mantle's release comes in the form of Sprites above storms. Mantle produced the atmosphere Ionosphere and anti-protons produces dark matter around earths Ionosphere.
"Mantle's are the missing link in the Earths physiology and the tie between Man Metaphysics and the Dimensional world."
Ronald Patrick Marriott.
Mantle for short produces Gamma rays found by NASA's FERMI satellite during Sprite production. PAMELA satellite found the antiprotons around the Van Allen belt produced by Mantle's discharge energy that follows the magnetic field lines from Earth.
Mantle's discovery will lend efforts to light speed "Warp" travel, wormhole production and dimension technology. The release of charged liquid Oxygen is converting to Air/water for the atmosphere and electrons for the Ionosphere.
It produces force fields and an endless supply of highly charged Liquid Oxygen to repair the earth with. This will supply us with clean energy any place on earth or space.
I am developing team oriented corporate structures to grab the steep developmental curves of high energy physics for my discoveries. These technologies are for advancement of the human race in the areas of Food production, Computer storage/dimensional, Transportation, Infrastructure, Medical, Space Travel and Dimension Building using high energy particle physics from my discoveries with Mantle.
It's not that hard, depends how fast you want it done.
Moving an asteroid from the belt to Earth orbit is not actually all that hard or expensive...
Although the energy term is far away from anything we can get into space, much less out beyond Mars, we don't have to lift the fuel, just the engine and we've done things at that scale many times already.
Let's take a cubic kilometre of asteroid, that's about 10^10 tonnes, or 10^13 Kg and say we need to change it's velocity by 2 kilometres per second, our old friend e = 1/2 MV^2 tells us the energy is 2,000,000,000,000,000,000 joules, enough to run your PC for a 1/4 of a million years
That's a big electricity bill, but in the belt, the Sun gives you about 30 w per square metre.
Solar panels don't need to mass much and we have the capacity to deliver a couple of square kilometres to the belt for far less than a manned mission to Mars,, my call is that it would be about the same price as the lander we just sent there, maybe twice as much maybe half.
Two square kilometres would give us about 60 megawatts which we could then direct into a mass driver engine. Basically smash the rock to dust, charge it and spit it out the back havinfbeen accelerated by an electric field.
The thrust to weight ratio would make Jeremy Clarkson vomit with contempt, not far off blowing at your monitor. But... There's no friction, and if you blew at your monitor 24*7*52 you'd have a very fast screen indeed.
At 100% efficiency, it would be in Earth orbit 2-3 years after the probes landed.
Of course we won't get 100% efficiency, or anything close.
But solar is a 24*7 resource, so if we're prepared to wait 10 years or send a couple of more probes it is actually something we could build today.
We already have rockets that can get there, space borne solar cells are a technology older than most people reading this, smashing rocks is well understood and if it wasn't for the fact that space flight is purely a way of propping up the profits of aerospace firms, it would cost a few billion and take 15 years from start to finish.
Re: It's not that hard, depends how fast you want it done.
How about by 2040? It would be a neat solution to the following :
Oh, and I like the idea of smashing the rock to dust and using that to drive it.
Didn't they recently talk about making structures on the moon only using the resources found on the moon?
If so the more logical way would be to build the station from that as it's a lot closer then any asteroid and less problems lifting the parts off the surface than from the earth.
How about the moon
No need to transport it, hollow it out and usse the material to build the disco like a big mooncrete bond lair megaplex. Simples
Re: How about the moon
The moon is said to be hollow already. If you put some sort of equipment up there that could repel it from a planet's orbit, perhaps by absorbing the flux energy of the planet itself you'd have enough room for entire cities, and could use it to travel the galaxy. Who's to say it hasn't already been done?
The main problem I think a lot of people would have is the whole "steering a ruddy huge rock into orbit".
Who has control?
How is it being aimed?
And, of course, the lawyers will ask:
Can you be 100% sure that no software failure, no hardware failure, or no other, unknown failure will cause your asteroid to lose control and smash into the Earth, killing (potentially) billions?
The answer to which has to be "No. Nothing like that can be guaranteed 100%."
Which is the reason we're never going to get decent sized nuclear reactors into orbit. Because there's a CHANCE that the rocket could fail, and the resultant crash could spread nuclear fuel over the face of the planet.
Fear, more than anything, is working to keep humans Earthbound.
I'm trying to look for a site that allows me to "see" what satellites or other orbiting objects were visible from a given point in the ground at a given date. I've checking heavens-above but, although it's a great site, don't provide this capability (or at least not during daylight hours)... Google only took me so far...
The reason for the question (as if it matters) is that I saw today a really faint dot in the sky, around 11:30 am, I watched it by sheer chance in the first place, as it was almost invisible. It wasn't Sirius, as it seemed to move slowly and in a seemingly straight line, but seemed too distant to be a plane. I thought it could be the ISS (it wasn't) or maybe an Iridium satellite, but cant find a way to be sure.
Little green men from Outer Space? I hope no...
Re: Satellite tracking
I've used this one with partial success: "http://www.satview.org/". Lack of success was mainly due to the usual British weather - if there's anything to see there are usually clouds in the way.
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