6 thoughts on “Space Settlements”

  1. Beyond these efforts, research is needed that relate specifically to large-scale habitats, including life support, food production (farming), power, architecture and construction methods, effect of ultra-cycling (which creates artificial gravity for rotating in-space habitats).

    All I’m coming up with from “ultra-cycling” is that the station’s residents pedal exercise bikes to spin the colony. Could the phrase be from auto-correct?

    It’s worryingly similar to Rick creating a micro-verse to power his car by having a micro-planet full of people using exercise machines, who unfortunately inovated their way out of being Rick’s engine slaves, which is why he and Morty had to leave Summer locked in his car for a bit. Fortunately his car’s security system kept her safe, even if it had to traumatize an entire planet to do so.

    “Tesla Sentry Mode will play Bach’s Toccata and Fugue during a robbery (and keep Summer safe)”
    — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 27, 2019

    Yeah. I could totally see Elon having everyone riding exercise bikes to keep gravity working.

    In any event, I think the main barrier to space settlement is, as always, the cost to orbit. Well, that and slow development schedules that would enrage a pharaoh. A lack of vision figures in there, too.

  2. –A comprehensive space settlement policy agenda that lawmakers and advocates would be able to get behind would include the following focus areas:–
    The four things aren’t needed. Though they might be helpful.

    What is needed is exploration. And exploration is done with idea that space settlements could happen soon, rather than some distant and not important future.

    What is needed for settlements is new markets in space.
    Lunar water mining could be a new market in space.
    So need exploration of lunar polar region to determine if and where lunar water is mineable.
    It doesn’t really matter what new markets are started- doing something with dead satellites could be related to a market.
    But if there is mineable lunar water it would be important market leading to space settlement, quicker.
    NASA building lunar base is not example of a new market, just as ISS is not example of new market.
    After exploring the Moon, NASA should explore Mars, to determine if and where there could be Mars settlements which could viable.
    Any settlement is a market or settlements which not some form of prison, are a collection of various markets or a market place.
    If one gets commerical lunar water mining, this would “help” Mars settlement be more viable. But without lunar water mining, Mars could have settlements- depending what is discovered exploring Mars. A discovery underground lake of liquid water, could do as much to make settlements on Mars viable, as lunar water could. Though having both is better.

  3. Until recently, lunar development ideas didn’t include water because nobody thought any water was there. The idea of mining the regolith for helium-3 to run cleaner fusion reactors was popular for a while, and even figured into the movie “Moon”.

    O’Neill’s ideas didn’t really depend on ISRU fuels, although the moon is extremely rich in oxides. The lack of hydrogen and carbon was just a major inconvenience, but not a show stopper. For building space colonies, the resource the moon provided was aluminum, titanium, steel, and slag (for radiation shielding). Those would be launched with a nuclear or solar powered electromagnetic catapult, similar to what we’re using on the Ford class aircraft carriers.

    The hiccup was that until the mass drivers were built, there wasn’t a good way to get anything back into orbit except by using fuel shipped from Earth, though it could be combined with locally sourced oxygen from all the smelting operations.

    However, I’m wondering how bad the moon’s hydrogen and carbon deficit really is. Most of the Earth’s water is in the mid mantle, which is estimated to be about 1.5% water. Somewhere down in the moon those same rock types are probably holding water, too.

    I’m also wondering if carbon and hydrogen containing rocks can be found much closer to the lunar surface, specifically in rocks that have never been in the upper five meters or so. Solar and cosmic radiation penetration is quite deep in the lunar regolith, with particles and secondaries, ionizing radiation, penetrating at least four or five meters to some degree. Any carbon or hydrogen compound that got blasted by radiation for a billion or so years, while in the presence of all that abundant oxygen, would likely form H2O and CO2 and just drift off into space, leaving a surface completely devoid of those two elements.

    So perhaps in certain areas, just five or so meters down, there are minerals still containing carbon or hydrogen compounds. Nobody has ever dug that deep, and we assume that the rocks we find on the surface, blasted from the depths by meteor impacts, are representative of those depths. I’m wondering how long that holds true in a high radiation environment.

    Perhaps someone should go up there and investigate further.

    1. –Until recently, lunar development ideas didn’t include water because nobody thought any water was there. The idea of mining the regolith for helium-3 to run cleaner fusion reactors was popular for a while, and even figured into the movie “Moon”.

      However, I’m wondering how bad the moon’s hydrogen and carbon deficit really is. —

      Let’s see, I figure LH2 is worth $4000 per kg [and LOX is worth $1000 per kg]**
      Wiki He-3:
      No, here:
      “Dr. Harrison Schmitt in his lectures at University of Wisonsin provides some links on their page page with data on abundance of luanr volatile components: [1].

      “That web page in turn has additional references which talk about the proportions of volatiles and their respective release temperatures.
      The major components (when regolith heated to 700 deg C) are:
      (in order of abundance and compared to the abundance of Helium-3 by mass)
      Hydrogen——–(6,100 times Helium-3 by mass)”
      So if mining for He-3 you will get 6,100 times as much.
      6,100 times $4000 is 24.4 million dollars
      And I doing kg and
      He- 3 price:
      “In 2010 DOE released 14,000 liters per year, at a spot market auction price of $2,000 per liter, $15,000 per gram ”
      15,000 per gram is 15 million dollars per kg
      So if getting $4000 kg or $4 per gram for Liquid Hydrogen you have added cost of liquidify H2 but seem you make as much for H2 as for the He-3- and don’t need to ship it back to Earth.
      In terms of hydrogen, I think there some estimate of 2 billion tonnes in the first 1 meter of lunar surface. Or about 52 tons per square km on average in first 1 meter depth [Moon has 38 million square km].

      So, at some point one might mine the Helium and hydrogen and other volatiles, but you should make more money from volatiles other than He-3, but you could send the He-3 to Earth if there was a demand for it. But it’s not how you start with the Moon and probably the lunar iron from such massive operation would be more valuable than all the volatiles. Or I think the Moon is great place to mine iron. And exceed Earth iron production. And eventually make lunar iron cheaper than Earth iron. But that time in the future will later than Earth getting Space Power Satellite which can provide all of Earth’s electrical needs [but as practical matter probably only capturing 50 to 75% of entire Earth electrical market]. Or a century or more after, lunar water mining starts.
      But the lack of carbon seems to be a problem- and it might be reason to mine Venus- though probably get the carbon from space rocks.
      ** Though such a price would be applicable to the beginning stages of lunar water mining- and perhaps 1/2 the price per decade.
      And also since use mostly using LOX: 6 kg LOX per 1 kg LH2:
      6000 + 4000 = 10,000 / 7 equal rocket fuel at lunar surface at $1428.57 per kg. And LOX price will probably lower a bit faster per decade.

    2. “Most of the Earth’s water is in the mid mantle, which is estimated to be about 1.5% water.”
      Assuming a similar abundance on the moon, the hard part becomes extracting as much water as you might want. Some kind of drilling rig would be a useful part of the experiment package when returning to the moon, presuming a drill can be devised to not contaminate the extracted rock related to what we’re interested in studying.

  4. I am not fond of the idea proposed to create a bunch of bureaucratic groups but the part about developing specific technologies is good.

    Replacing the ISS provides the perfect opportunity to develop these technologies. The billions spent on the ISS would easily support sending astronauts to a variety of stations that would be suited for different types of activities.

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