I’m heading off to the Personal Spaceflight Symposium in a few minutes, so probably no blogging until tonight or tomorrow.
A dozen political posts today, and no mention of SpaceX’s MCT rocket.
Is it possible to get an RSS speed for just the space stuff?
I second that. Its like Rand has turned his blog into an extension of the Romney Campaign machine
And why not? Almost the entire MS”N”M is part of the Obama campaign. This blog, at least, makes no pretense at being an unbiased source of news.
And why not?
Because shut up.
Gee, you really drank the R3 kool-aid didn’t you
The truth kool aid?
No, I’ve just observed that every “journalist” except for a few on Fox are open supporters of Obama — like the members of the “press” who applauded Obama last night, when he criticized Romney’s wealth.
It hasn’t changed any from 1972, when 90% of the press voted for McGovern. You have to be exceptionally good at evading reality to not see this…
Poor poor conservatives. Everyone is against you. Talk about a cult of victimization
I’m not a conservative.
Sorry, its hard to keep track of all the label changing these days
So what do you consider yourself?
You just supplied all the new information in that one post. Prior to the Flight Global article we were unaware that SpaceX was using those particular three letters to refer to their big rocket program. Now we do, and don’t know what the three letters mean.
MCT – Methane, Closed Cycle, Throttleable.
Musk’s Conical Thruster
Mars Commercial Transport
What’s the business case for a 200 tons-to-LEO rocket? Is there one?
Personally I’m not sure Elon ever plans to build this rocket. My personal speculation is that it’s entire purpose is to give the “Enemies of SLS” some ammo in defunding Constellation/SLS.
Once defunded we can abandon the idea of super-HLV and move to a space-resources and space-construction model. I don’t see why we need anything bigger than the Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy.
Only three more weeks you guys have to suffer. Sack up.
I was already sick and tired of the election campaign a year ago.
How’s this for some space news? Alpha FREAKING Centauri has at least one planet.
This story is a good example. They finally found an Earth size Planet in the Alpha Centauri System
Now all they need to do is find on in the habitable zone…
The Alpha Centauri story is neat, but are exo-planets really something to get that excited about? What an interstellar species needs is physical resources to build shirt-sleeve habitats, and physical resources at the bottom of a strong gravity well aren’t very useful.
(Especially since the odds of any exo-planet being shirt-sleeve habitable upon discovery must be 1000000000000000:1.)
Were I to plan a trip to another star system, I’d be much more interested in the asteroid fields and icy comets. Carbon is carbon and can be stretched into a nice O’Neil cylinder or Bishop Ring pretty much anywhere.
I hate to nit pick, but the odds are actually 1000000000000002:1.
I agree, planets are nice to visit but humanity’s real home will be in Asimov Habitats traveling from one destination to another.
But just as there are folks who believe Mars is humanity’s next home there will probably be groups on the Asimov Habitats who will want to rough it in pioneering the surface of an alien world. It takes all kinds you know
Hmm, sounds like a plot for a good hard science fiction story…
But what is important is that if there planets then there must be left overs from the planet formation process, the asteroids and comets you speak of.
In fact, given recent discoveries I think its now safe to assume nearly every star system will have its own collection of comets and asteroids to use as resources to build new Asimov habitats once you arrive, just as Issac Asimov speculated in his paper on Spomes in 1966. In short we may now have a practical model of what a interstellar society would look like, namely scores of Asimov Habitats, each independent, expanding in a cloud away from the Mother Star and going through bursts of reproduction when ever one enters a new star system.
So again, the classic question – Where are they? or are we lucky enough to be the only ones in the Milky Way?
I’ve been thinking about this recently, and I don’t think recognizable home sapiens are going to be “the people” who “go” to, wherever.
Human bodies are well adapted for Earth. Space, not so much. If you send a human body you need to send air, water, gravity, food, etc.
An android with a human brain (or uploaded brain) could be much, much more comfortable in space. Imagine Cassini with AI.
And it’s not a matter of whether humans would want to take their bodies with them or not, but rather a question of competition. A space-adapted android (or large spaceship with onboard systems hosting dozens (or thousands) of individual AI agents) would simply be so much more “fit” for space exploration (in the Darwinian sense) that they would “win” the interstellar space race for all practical purposes.
I heartily agree. AI is on the path of Moore’s Law. Can you say the same of HSF? The robots have always gone first, they just haven’t been very smart, but they’re getting there. There will be positive ROI from autonomy, without question. The whole thing will evolve quite naturally.
are exo-planets really something to get that excited about?
Of course not, but the media has to deliver something, however ordinary, and at least try to make it sensational.
From the perspective of a space-faring civilzation, gravity wells are tombs. Find a way to give mineral-rich exoplanets the Alderran treatment so you can mine the debris, and you’ll save yourself a hella delta-v…
Life is more likely on planets. Life is a resource. Minerals are likely to be the same in any solar system. Life is much more likely to involve unique arrangements. Complex chemicals, like Titan’s tholins, are the intermediate case.
Wherever we go, we’ll find ice. Ice is nice, but ice is a means to an end.
So don’t Alderranize a planet if there’s life on it. Got it. And… well, don’t do it anyway because minerals are the same everywhere and primordial goo might have some complex chemicals in it.
Is that a reasonable summary Bob?
No. It is not. As Brock points out below, we’re not really talking about smashing up planets. We’re talking about the worth of planets vs the worth of asteroids & comets. I’m pointing out that asteroids and comets are likely to be the same in any nearby solar system, although I’d be very pleased to learn differently. I’m also pointing out that planets are more likely to host things which are interestingly/usefully different from what we can find at home. These differences are what makes it worth money to study them from afar (via telescopes) or to go visit them (via unmanned and even manned physical missions).
There is a dream on this blog that space will be the place where people can find freedom to not be interfered with. Asteroid and comet resources would make that lifestyle possible. That’s a fine dream. I’m *not* knocking it. But I’m doubtful that it will motivate interstellar space travel, when our own solar system (including the oort cloud) is so mind bogglingly big. (You really do have to count the oort cloud to get completely mind-boggled.) If we travel to the stars, if send automated probes to the stars, if we “merely” build really big telescopes to study nearby star systems, I believe it will be because we are interested in what planets have to offer.
I also detect in your hostile response a hint that you think I’m promoting some sort of knee-jerk environmentalism/conservation agenda. That’s the wrong argument to even think about. Surely you’ll agree that scientific research leads to economic benefits (including, but hardly not restricted to, engineering breakthroughs & medical breakthroughs). I’m arguing that planets (and interesting moons, like Titan) offer a rich chemical (and perhaps biological) environment that allow for unique resources to emerge, and unique resources are why we’ll be interested in things that are inconveniently far away. In terms of treating life as a “resource”, I’m talking about anything from learning new biochemical tricks from microbes to signing trade agreements with intelligent locals.
And here’s the counter-argument: Freeman Dyson imagines interesting chemistry/biology widespread in the outer solar system and out into the oort cloud. He even made a bet, here;
http://longbets.org/user/fdyson/ I’d love to see him win — our solar system would thus turn out to be an even more interesting place, and the possibilities for other solar systems would also get even more interesting as well.
Yes, Captain Obvious, we’ll let the living planets be.
I answered Curt. My post isn’t showing up. Hell, I’ll try again.
The Alderran treatment? If you think getting a rocket payload out of a gravity well is difficult, you don’t want to know how hard it is to launch an entire planet (or even just the mantle) out of one is.
On the other hand, if we have the means to crash a moon-sized asteroid into a planet, maybe that’s not a bad idea. The splashback out of LEO would have to exceed the size of the asteroid in the first place to make it worth it though.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that interstellar civilization entails Clarke’s Law.
Also, stars: incredibly wasteful. Probably need to be consumed at some reasonable ratio (neighboring systems traveled to/stars repurposed) if you’re going to spread across the galaxy.
And here’s the counter-argument: Freeman Dyson imagines interesting chemistry/biology widespread in the outer solar system and out into the oort cloud. He even made a bet, here;
(see long bets dot org site) I’d love to see him win — our solar system would thus turn out to be an even more interesting place, and the possibilities for other solar systems would also get even more interesting as well.
It may be “the wrong argument” but I notice you kind of ran away from it. And breaking up a planet might provide a rich chemical (and perhaps biological) environment on its own.
And no, our system is NOT mind bogglingly big. In terms of comfortable gravity-compliant space, it’s quite small. I’m guessing you haven’t followed up on your semi-commitment to watch Firefly/Serenity.
The oort cloud comprises a sphere with a radius of 1 to 2 lightyears. A light year is 5.87849981 × 10^12 miles long. Would you like to calculate the volume? Astronomers estimate that there are 1 trillion (1×10^12) comets in our system, most in the oort cloud of course. Once you’re talking about living in or otherwise exploiting comets, you should consider their total volume, rather than their surface area. Again, would you like to calculate the volume?
Most of that volume is pretty useless. You can’t eat or breath vacuum.
But I will agree on one point: our solar system is really damn big, compared to Earth’s surface. If you start turning comets and asteroids into useful surfaces (like O’Neil cylinders, Bishop Rings, or some other habitat – like floating platforms on Venus or Saturn) in a mass-produced and automated fashion, you can quickly build more useful, climate controlled real estate than Earth has to offer. Probably several multiples of it.
But assertion that extrasolar star systems won’t be colonized because our own solar system is somehow “enough” is not correct, IMO. The purpose of life is to expand out into new environments and reproduce itself. There’s no such thing as “enough”. As long as new, empty vistas exist there will be people who want to go. Those foreign stars will be colonized in much the same fashion that our own (extraterrestrial parts of) Sol system will be.
I expect that as soon as extra-large solar sails or some sort of warp drive make it possible, people will go. Or maybe they’ll hollow out an asteroid and set it on a lazy, sub-light course into the unknown. Or maybe just a few hundred uploaded minds in a USB thumb drive will make the trip – who knows. But they’re not going to stay here, that’s for sure.
Brock, I’m not arguing against interstellar colonization. I’m arguing that extrasolar planets will be the motivation for interstellar travel because extrasolar comets & asteroids are (presumably) not at all different from what we can find in our own solar system (including the oort cloud).
If anyone disagrees with me, tell me why an uncolonized comet or asteroid in another solar system is better than one in our own oort cloud.
As for all that empty volume in the oort cloud — it isn’t useless from the point of view of libertarians on this blog. The empty space is useful for keeping far from the neighbors, the ones using the next comet over, 50 million miles away.
And because there are _trillions_ of comets in our system, a) we won’t run out, and b) stealth, while very difficult, is easier than it would be if there were fewer comets.
But I’m all for skipping the oort cloud and sending as much stuff (probes, people, robots, whatever) toward other solar systems as soon as we can, as much as we can. I’m very very pro-insterstellar, whether it involves telescopes or probes or colonies — I’m just predicting it will be done because of interest in other planets. Utilizing comets can be done closer to home — practically forever.
In his original article Dr. Asimov speculated that the first interstellar travelers would be folks in a “Spome” exploiting the outer Oort cloud simply crossing over into the gravity well of the Alpha Centauri system and following its Oort cloud, and exploiting it, down its gravity well until their descendants reach the inner part of the system.
In short basically a high tech version of the Paleoamericans who followed the key resources of their day, large game animals, over the Bering Land Bridge into the New World.
I don’t know if he’s right, but I really like that idea. Star wanderers.
I just spent 20 minutes trying to find a copy of that essay via Google. Nothing. No copies online because of copyright, and it’s out of print because of age. I’m kind of mad that something that old is still under copyright at all, but doubly mad that we’re in this situation where Google has the whole thing scanned in its Google Books archive but won’t share it with me because it can’t get permission from a dead man.
I’m holding a paper copy of the essay in my hands. It is called “Steppingstones to the Stars”, and it is in (maybe among other collections) “Asimov on Astronomy” from 1975.
Did you want the relevant quote?
Or were you referring to Asimov’s ” Is Anyone There?
Yes, his basic idea is in “There’s No place like Spome”. Its in “Is Anyone There?” as well as part of the collection in “Skylife”.
It was originally presented in a ACS sponsored meeting in 1965.
ASIMOV, ISAAC – Spomelife: The Universe and the Future [“There’s No Place Like Spome”], (ar) Atmosphere in Space Cabins and Closed Environments, ed. Karl Kammermeyer, Meredith 1966; originally presented as a paper to the American Chemical Society on September 13, 1965.
That latter might be in the public domain. Its should also be available in research libraries. I have a copy of the proceedings but its in storage at the moment.
“Stepping Stones to the Stars” was a follow up essay (dating to 1967 I believe) along similar lines that discussed the idea of Spomes following the Oort Cloud to other systems.
“The outer Oort cloud is believed to contain several trillion individual objects larger than approximately 1 km (0.62 mi) (with many billions with absolute magnitudes brighter than 11—corresponding to approximately 20 km (12 mi) diameter), with neighboring objects typically tens of millions of kilometres apart.”
“If analyses of comets are representative of the whole, the vast majority of Oort-cloud objects consist of various ices such as water, methane, ethane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide. However, the discovery of the object 1996 PW, an asteroid in an orbit more typical of a long-period comet, suggests that the cloud may also contain rocky objects.“
Would you lose sleep if the residents of Oort 219-A67 didn’t have access to free birth control?
“RU-486 is a Harsh Mistress”
So, in other words, you engaged me in an argument, but now you’ve got nothing sensible (or polite) to say. Next time, why not say something like “Wow! Bob, I had no idea how many comets the Oort cloud is thought to hold, nor did I appreciate how vast it is. Thank you for teaching me something new!”
And then I could say “No problem! It was a pleasure chatting with you.”
I would consider it if it was true. But I’d be inclined to reject it even then because of your habitual avoidance of my points, combined with your irritating asides that are intended to be taken as truth but are really just throwaway bilge.
I’m guessing that in fact you would lose sleep if my proposed condition were true. You would also lose sleep if it were true on Alpha Centauri B d. Doubly so since you’d also have to wait 4 years to find out if their access had changed. And it’s that very mindset that blinds you to the idea that any human would have the desire to use space to gain freedom.
You have my pity.
” your habitual avoidance of my points, ”
And what points would those be?
Titus actually made a point: Titus thinks the Alpha Centauri B b story isn’t important, because planets aren’t important. In the context of the solar system, he has a somewhat reasonable argument, well-understood by all of us who have read Gerald O’Neil and likeminded L5 folks. (I can’t completely endorse Titus’ “Planets are tombs” argument because we really don’t yet know what the planets and large moons of this solar system have to offer in terms of resources, but it is an ok argument, particularly when used to emphasize that small bodies are the key to space development.)
I made a point in return: that planets will be the motivation for interstellar travel, because they’re more likely offer something you can’t find much closer to home. If you’re merely looking for space to be left alone, and for icy and rocky bodies to utilize, you’ll find that in the oort cloud if not even closer — practically forever, due to all those 10^12 numbers I mentioned above.
This doesn’t suggest that interstellar travel won’t happen – it merely suggests that extrasolar planets will be the objects of interest, the motivation for interstellar travel.
I’m inviting anyone to suggest a reason why I’m wrong. Brock suggested that people will expand endlessly, planets or not. He has a point.
What’s your point? Something about contraceptives? What does that have to do anything, particularly given that I’ve acknowledged the legitimacy of libertarian space dreams numerous times in this thread.
Did you have a point about environmentalism, a recap of the Red Mars vs Green Mars SF debate? I can’t really detect any “point” you’re making regarding all that, but I’ve been talking about resource utilization throughout this thread – I have not brought up conservation except to dismiss it, since of course, as Titus acknowledges, we won’t want to drive any extraterrestrial life to extinction, and since, of course, we’ll want to exploit anything we find.
You did make one point: you said the solar system isn’t very big. I provided some numbers to show otherwise. You didn’t respond.
Looks like you’ve got nothing but bluster.
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