About those Musk fans…

I am mystified at how stupid the public is. At how NASA misrepresents so many issues. Elon and his cult followers. The return of the fascism. It is all so disturbing.

Mars is never going to be a second home for humankind. It would be far easier to shoot lunar alloy from the surface and then melt it into miles-in-diameter spheres at a Lagrange (it is zero G with plenty of solar energy after all), partially fill with water, spin, and you have a city. A habitat with Earth Gravity, in the same orbit as Earth with plenty of energy. These constructs can be farms, or whatever is needed. And you can mass produce them. Dozens, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands over the next few centuries. Eventually hundreds of thousands of them leading and trailing Earth around the sun, supporting tens of billions of people. As a western standard of living is enabled with Space Solar Power for a population of 10 billion and genetic technology extends lifespans indefinitely, the birthrate will drop and most of humankind will live in space. Earth….depopulated and a pristine camping destination. With enough surplus solar energy available beam propulsion can accelerate these spheres on centuries long journeys to other stars.

The false prophet of space colonization has a plan to hijack cyberspace and is using the fantasy of Mars as cover. It is the lowest goal imaginable and we as a species are wasting our most fortunate century on narcissist grifters.

Two Sentences

From David Badash, RAW STORY:

All 26 Republicans on the powerful House Oversight Committee have refused to sign a simple, two-sentence statement denouncing white supremacy.

“We, Members of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, together denounce white nationalism and white supremacy in all its forms, including the ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory. These hateful and dangerous ideologies have no place in the work of theUnited States Congress or our Committee,” the statement from Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-MD) reads.

It comes after several Oversight Committee Republicans “invoked dangerous and conspiratorial rhetoric echoing the racist and nativist tropes peddled by white supremacists and right-wing extremists,” during a February hearing on the “border crisis,” Ranking Member Raskin said in a March 5 letter to Committee Chair James Comer  The Washington Post first reported on Raskin’s letter.

“In particular, some Members repeatedly described the number of migrants arriving at the border as an ‘invasion,’ and even went so far as to falsely accuse the Biden-Harris Administration of implementing a plan ‘to deliberately open our border’ for purposes of ‘changing our culture’—mirroring language often used by MAGA extremists who believe that pro-immigration policies are designed to replace white populations with non-white immigrants and other racial minorities,” Raskin’s letter says.

Congressman Raskin is a former constitutional law professor who gained national prominence as the impeachment manager during the second impeachment of Donald Trump.

“As I explained to you at the hearing,” his letter to Comer continues, “such language borrows from the ‘Great Replacement’ theory, the central dogma of contemporary white supremacy that has been repeatedly invoked by white nationalists to justify violent acts of domestic terrorism, including the mass murders of dozens of Americans at a Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, New York, the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.”

All 21 Democrats on the Oversight Committee signed the statement, all 26 Republicans refused. A Committee spokesperson called the statement a “distraction,” according to The Independent.

Comments 23-2

“I believe you are missing the larger picture regarding Shuttle’s most valuable function/capability.”

I can see the Shuttle having been useful if not for a couple of grave shortcomings. It was a case of going cheap and this costing far more in the long run that what-should-have-been would have cost. The two loss of crew events had to do with no escape system in the case of Challenger, and the vulnerable heat shielding on Columbia. Placing a capsule with an escape tower at the top of the stack is, in regard to Human Space Flight, that “most valuable function/capability.” The heat shield is as protected as it can be, ideally by a robust cargo section placed between the capsule and the rest of the vehicle. The escape tower fairing protects the upper part of the capsule. Both the tower and capsule can parachute into the sea for recovery and reuse. It does not get any better than that.

The Shuttle concept was a Saturn V class launch vehicle that sacrificed a single tank on the altar of the rocket equation. An excellent concept executed with the worst possible design. There was nothing of real value ever brought back down from space so the cargo bay and 737 size Orbiter wasted most of the lift of the vehicle. Using the Orbiter to return the SSME’s required side-mounting and made the spaceplane much larger than it would have been without them. And of course the SRB’s, being rail-transported to Utah, could only be a certain diameter which limited their power and as a consequence the payload, leaving nothing to spare for an effective escape system. The biggest mistake of all was carrying cargo, like satellites, with crew.

The SLS is, ironically, much like what the Shuttle should have been. But while the Shuttle concept was to make space access far more economical by placing 100+ ton Saturn V class payloads into space while only expending a single large tank, the SLS expends everything and has not replaced the SRB’s with the originally specified pressure-fed boosters. The SLS can still become the Shuttle-that-should-have-been but that would require new boosters and a recoverable core engine module. Splashing the ISS and committing that over 4 billion a year to a Lunar return would be a good start

Using the negative connotation of “jobs program” always identifies the Neoliberals in the crowd. They consider corporations and top earners being taxed in any way theft, since the rich are already providing jobs for everyone, and they should not be stolen from or regulated in any way.

The reality is the rich, if they do not pay the taxes that provide for those things that hand them a healthy, educated workforce, transported to the job site, ARE the thieves in almost every way. Those taxes also pay for their military, first responders, every kind of infrastructure, and most of the basic research they develop and which generate their wealth. Obscene wealth that has in recent years bought fleets of private jets, yachts, multi-thousand acre ranches, and multiple resort-size mansions instead of being paid as taxes maintaining infrastructure.

“Jobs programs” are ostensibly the politicians handing out make-work in exchange for votes. If that is what landed Americans on the Moon then I will vote for that.

Space is not make-work.

The only “commercial” application for Human Space Flight will be for Space Solar Power by way of lunar resources. Which NASA does not seem to be a big supporter of. While the Deputy Administrator does seem to be a fan of space tourism, the most recent flights of fancy having launched courtesy of Space X. The same company spoken of in a presidential speech as the future of space in 2010 and the Moon as “been there.” The evidence for ice on the Moon had to wait another seven years for Bridenstine to call it out as the raison d’etre for a lunar return.

Satellites do not require Human crews. Factories under the lunar surface will need humans. Thousands of them. Climate Change has made Space Solar Power the path to expanding humankind into the solar system. And there is no other. There are some “proposals” for LEO private stations which have very little chance of happening. And Mars, which is a dead end and has been since the 1970’s when Gerard K. O’Neill’s people concluded no natural body other than Earth is suitable for colonization. The Moon is the key to all things space; to powering civilization carbon free and building new worlds; artificial-miles-in-diameter-spinning-hollow-moons.

While O’Neill is forgotten, a false prophet has come upon us who made the Moon verboten and also called Space Solar Power “the stupidest idea ever”, while pursuing 42,000 LEO satellites that will make him king of the internet, and the world, in his mind. Regarding flight safety, the escape system on the dragon is a poor design that is more likely to kill the crew it is supposed to save, while the shiny has no escape system at all. What could be worse for Human Space Flight?

Comments are being made to the effect that SLS and Orion are “not getting the job done.”

SLS and Orion have flown, have gone around the Moon, and with the flight heritage of the engines and boosters dating back to the 80’s and the development of Orion, which first flew, successfully, in 2014, they are ready to get their part of the job done.

The giant lander, with it’s future fleet of necessary shiny tankers, has yet to do much except blow up over and over again and finally make a successful belly flop landing. That landing, by the way, will never be done on Earth with a human on board without an escape system. I doubt the Starship lander will ever carry humans either as even in 1969 the original lander had the capability to drop it’s landing stage and abort back to lunar orbit.

This seems to be the difference between “commercial” space and whatever NASA-bashing derogatory term is used for what landed U.S. astronauts on the Moon a half a century ago. Since the Reagan Revolution and the need to “make space pay for itself” we have accomplished nothing comparable, nothing of real value ever having come down from LEO space stations after investing hundreds of billions of dollars in going around in circles at very high altitude.

The reality is that “commercial space” is satellites and satellites are NOT Human Space Flight. Since flight safety is generally about humans flying, the mixing of Human Space Flight and “commercial space” is confusing. “Private space” flying fake astronauts to a government subsidized ISS, even if some of these tourist trips are being paid for by other governments so they can boast their own astronauts, is a corrupt enterprise.

Again, the only real “commercial” application for Human Space Flight will be for Space Solar Power by way of lunar resources. Billionaut tourism is an insult to all who have dedicated their lives to space exploration “For All Mankind.”

The Shuttle was originally envisioned as the cheap ride for satellites that would “make space pay for itself.” If the concept had been executed better it might have become reality but the design was by committee, on the cheap, and ended up costing an average of 1.5 billion per launch. We could have just kept launching Saturn V’s.

The Saturn V is still the model for success. With VTVL reusable stages the state-sponsored Super Heavy Lift Vehicle, using hydrogen-oxygen engines in the 2 million pound thrust range, is the likely standard launcher that will arise from the present confusion. It is not going to be solid fuel mini’s launched from old jumbo jets.

These state launch systems will provide the most efficient transportation for the large payloads going beyond LEO. The megaconstellations are quickly becoming a Frankenstein monster that will at some point have to be put down. LEO is a dead end.

Deflect of course…but the problem is how to “deflect” a pile of rubble in space. The question appears to be whether blowing this pile apart with a nuclear device or several nuclear devices will result in a larger number of smaller impact events that would still destroy civilization or even result in extinction.

It is not really a valid question as nuclear weapons can be built to project a cloud of high speed plasma in one direction. Such a cloud, or several clouds, would “gently” deflect rubble-pile impact threats.

The B612 foundation has unfortunately popularized the notion that using nukes to save the world is somehow bad and have actively opposed their use over the years and instead proposed their “gravity tug” concept. Which is….complete idiocy.

What could be more infuriating than an organization pushing a self-serving agenda that may kill off the entire human race?

Nuclear Thermal Propulsion provides about twice the ISP of chemical rockets at fantastic expense. Hydrogen is also not a “long duration” propellent, being very difficult to store for long periods in space, making NTP an enabler for interplanetary missions unlikely.

Fission is, literally, a million times more powerful than chemical reactions, and the only twice the Isp of NTP is a fail. Work at MIT in thermo-photovoltaic-cells (TPV) has the potential to vastly simplify electrical generation by nuclear reactors in space and, along with recent University of Michigan high power testing of Hall thrusters, make Nuclear Electric Propulsion the better path.

While NTP claims of five times the efficiency of chemical rockets may be possible, it is more likely “aspirational” as the temperatures and pressures necessary make it close to handwavium. It is possible some new technology to make NTP viable is being used but nothing concerning this has been said or inferred. Five times the efficiency is more believable as a NEP number.

There is the possibility this new NTP project will be highly profitable and selected for exactly that reason. If there is a critical need for a hi thrust/hi Isp system, then Nuclear Pulse Propulsion is by far the most logical choice as an essentially off the shelf and readily available, if politically problematic, option. Surely our new Space Force has the power to revisit NPP and overcome old political barriers to what could be used to defend Earth from impact threats as well as enable interplanetary missions?

The ton and a half of hypergolic propellants wrapped around the Dragon crew capsule, instead of using an escape tower, was, in my opinion, not the best design. The tractor escape tower is far less likely to result in a loss of crew event while the amount and proximity of hypergolics on the Dragon is problematic . The system on the Starliner is not much better, though it can be jettisoned. When the Dragon exploded during testing of this system I expected it to be stripped out of the craft and a tower used, but was not. This does not seem like what an organization with a functioning “safety culture” would do. I was disappointed when NASA, which equipped Orion with an outstanding Launch Abort System, did not require a comparable system on the two LEO taxis.


angelinspace 25 days ago

“A medical cutting laser could have popped China’s balloon.
Strange how all the would-be SLS killers don’t fuss as much against Carrier groupies that spend far more.”

The F-22 fighter that shot down the China balloon was not made in great numbers because of the Obama/McCain presidential race. Both candidates promised to kill the half a billion dollar each fighter. That did not stop the most expensive program in DOD history from moving forward though. The 1.7 trillion dollar F-35 will never do anything in regards to space exploration or making life better for the majority of Americans. It will, however, continue to enrich that less than 1 percent of the population that own shares in it.

When 5 GHz chips and quantum cryptography became available that was the turning point. Not much need for human-crewed fighters anymore. They are not seeing much action in Ukraine because they will just get shot down by missiles. We now have drones and missiles in the process of replacing most of the human-crewed legacy systems. Sea glider technology is allowing these craft to infest every ocean on Earth so even submarines cannot hide anymore.

For over 60 years the U.S. has spent incalculable sums on weapons that would never be used in another global conflict as H-bombs made any more World Wars the end of the world. So this incredible waste has, for my long life, been more about enriching shareholders than warfighting.

It is profoundly depressing to contemplate what even half that treasure could have accomplished if directed at insuring the continued existence of humankind, instead of pursuing it’s end. Even when presented with the opportunity to save ourselves, the lure of easy money and absolute greed drive us toward extinction. Space Solar Power was actually a reaction to Vietnam and presented as the alternative to the Military Industrial Complex.

Ronald Reagan wished for some alien threat the world could unite against yet
the cause of the dinosaur extinction had been recently discovered, which essentially granted his wish, and it made no difference. Now Climate Catastrophe looms, and again, fossil fuel interests have insured they will get their money and to hell with humanity.

“He said later that NASA had worked with SpaceX to avoid the “normalization of deviance” problem at the root of past accidents. “We’ve seen it in flying on our SpaceX vehicles, even today, where something’s not right but nothing goes wrong,” he said. “We have to question when something’s not right.”

And yet they are not doing that.

While I am completely uninterested in air launch, I find the configuration of the Roc and White Knight extremely interesting.

The reason I find it interesting is I am not a fan of airliners falling out of the sky and it being a given that this happens and hundreds of people will die. Don’t like it. Especially considering 2017 was the first year we actually had zero airline disasters. Not since.

“2017 was the safest year in the history of commercial air travel, according to The Aviation Safety Network. There were no crashes involving large passenger airliners anywhere in the world despite the volume of air traffic reaching its highest point ever. Excluding acts of suicide, sabotage and hijacking, 59 people were killed in 14 air accidents worldwide in 2017.”

A passenger pod carried between these twin boomed aircraft could be equipped to separate from the mother craft and do a soft touch down. No more airline fatalities. The twin booms could be used to store liquid hydrogen. Zero Carbon.

“Project Orion was the first serious attempt to design a nuclear pulse rocket. The design effort was carried out at General Atomics in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The idea of Orion was to react small directional nuclear explosives against a large steel pusher plate attached to the spacecraft with shock absorbers. Efficient directional explosives maximized the momentum transfer, leading to specific impulses in the range of 6,000 seconds, or about 12 times that of the Space Shuttle Main Engine. With refinements, a theoretical maximum of 100,000 seconds (1 MN·s/kg) might be possible. Thrusts were in the millions of tons, allowing spacecraft larger than eight million tons to be built with 1958 materials.”

Ronald Reagans Star Wars spent an unknown amount since even that was classified, but it was at least several billion dollars, in “directed energy weapons” or, directing the energy of a nuclear device in a single direction. After decades of nuclear weapon research, it can be assumed at least half of the theoretical maximum Isp can be attained.

The “advice” NASA has been receiving since the end of Apollo has been all bad. Simple as that. The influence of those seeking easy cold war profits and going cheap led to wrong turn after wrong turn. This has placed America in the present situation with billionaires dictating space policy. Space Solar Power should have been the priority from the late 1970’s on and the evidence for ice on the Moon in 2010 should have accelerated efforts considering the Climate Change crisis.

“Any thought of studying launch or reentry emissions triggers fears among some in the industry of impending regulations that would slow its rate of growth or increase costs.”

More like stark terror.

Satellites, contrary to popular belief, are actually not necessary for a global telecommunications network. High altitude dirigibles, stationed at above 60,000 feet, can relay data just as effectively. Speculation about this has been posted over the years including “The Coming Zeppelin Satellite Apocalypse” in 2015.

Using hydrogen oxygen Super Heavy Lift Vehicles to create a cislunar infrastructure would have the smallest impact on the atmosphere. Only the second stage engine module, with the empty tankage being used as part of wet workshop schemes, need reenter the atmosphere from orbital altitudes for reuse. A third stage engine doing a lunar free return might also reenter for reuse. SHLV full-flow hydrogen oxygen engines would limit byproducts with the fewest number of launches.

Space Solar Power by way of lunar resources is the solution to Climate Change and the only real justification for thousands of launches a year with the hydrogen oxygen SHLV’s mentioned. The megaconstellation abomination never should have been allowed to move forward. The unintended consequences of filling Low Earth Orbit with junk will inevitably end badly and books will be written about how the debacle happened. The smaller launchers and what will expand into over 100,000 satellites constantly reentering and requiring constant replenishment will add to Climate Change as yet another environmental disaster in the making.

“-a power satellite will repay the energy cost to build and put it in orbit in a little over 2 months. This is at least 5 times the best ground renewables. That’s good, the bad number is that is takes about 500 Starship flights to put up one 5 GW power satellite. Taking 20 years to replace 1/3rd of the current energy consumption takes ~25,000 flights per year.”

25,000 SHLV missions per year sounds crazy but consider around 2000 a month, 500 a week, and about 75 per day, with those launches distributed across all the space launch facilities on Earth. Perhaps 25 from Asia, 25 from Eurasia, and 25 from our hemisphere. Then suddenly it does not seem so crazy. While 20 years might see 1/3 of our energy needs met, in a half a century lunar factories would provide satellites to meet all our energy needs. All terrestrial power plants burning fossil fuels would be decommissioned and all transportation converted to electric or liquid hydrogen for commercial airliners. Like mobilizing for World War ll, we can just as effectively mobilize to avert a Climate Catastrophe.

The last study I read gave numbers for sending up satellite components from Earth and also sending factory components to the Moon. Like many things, the lunar factory approach was far more expensive initially, but quickly caught up and was far cheaper over the long run. The long run being completely powering civilization from space of course. The global number of daily airliner flights is around 150,000.

Using lunar factories to make those Space Solar Power Satellites is the solution to Climate Change.

“How high can the frequency of rocket launches go before launch emissions become a cause for concern?”

I saw the figure ten to the fifth power in one study, or 100,000 per year as the point where serious effects will begin to show up. That is about 275 per day. Another comment here cited approximately 75 per day as necessary to build a Space Solar Power infrastructure. Exactly what and how much propellants those 275 would be burning was not specified. What is also not addressed are the satellites, upper stages, and reusable vehicles reentering, which deposit unique chemical byproducts and metals into the upper atmosphere that meteorites do not. Nothing or as little as possible burning up on reentry would likely be included in the 275 per day serious effects demarcation.

These are all very approximate figures considering large numbers of smaller “dirty launchers” and multiple megaconstellations with satellites constantly reentering and being replenished will have far larger effects than a much smaller number of Super Heavy Lift Vehicles burning hydrogen and oxygen launching long-lived GEO sats and no LEO megaconstellations.

Women are the requirement for our species to continue. Men not so much. Women in space are subject to greater risk from radiation effects than males. A Near Sea Level Radiation 1 Gravity (NSLR1G) environment is the requirement for any “survival colony” in space. Humans evolved over millions of years in this environment and rapid “adaption” to anything else beyond what is found on Earth is not likely to succeed. Not likely at all.

Space is, above all, an insurance policy for the human species. Humankind collectively has the resources to defend Earth from extinction level impacts from space. We have the ability to replace our ecosystem-wrecking energy industry by way of Space Solar Power and lunar resources. Once humans are working in space on this energy megaproject the next step of establishing independent self-sustaining colonies is enabled.

Space Solar Power is the economic engine enabling the construction of miles-in-diameter-artificial-spinning-hollow-moons. The same constantly expanding space energy infrastructure powering planet Earth can also beam-propel “spaceliners” carrying colonists into space at the same rate humans fly commercially around the planet now. This beam propulsion can ultimately accelerate miles-in-diameter spheres to fractions of the speed of light on centuries long journeys to other stars.

This is the survivable future of humankind while the path currently being traveled leads to non-existence. Survival was the vision of Gerard K. O’Neill and others. A recent false prophet has arisen calling for a different path and following a ruinous ideology that promises to enrich a few while maintaining humankind on that path to non-existence.

A first step onto the right path is creating crew compartments with massive cosmic ray water shields using tether systems to generate artificial gravity. Such constructs will allow women and men to live and work in space indefinitely instead of incurring permanent damage from dosing and debilitation. Lunar water can be lifted into space using 20 times less energy than from Earth. Super Heavy Lift Vehicles can place double-hulled wet workshops, “Fat Workshops”, in space to store this water. These are critical components of a cislunar infrastructure.

The third reason is it would simply not be economical to launch many large satellite constellations on small boosters.”

It is a mess. Going to larger and longer lived GEO platforms would have been the trend if regulators had strictly limited smallsats. Which they should have, know they should have, and must have been paid off in some way to allow the megaconstellation Frankenstein monster.

(This comment was not posted by Marcia and she never posted another one by me) From the M2M executive summary- Lunar Infrastructure Goal 1: “Develop an incremental lunar power generation and distribution system that is evolvable to support continuous robotic/human operation and is capable of scaling to global power utilization and industrial power levels.”

Are they talking about Space Solar Power? Why didn’t they just say it instead of this unclear statement? Space Solar Power by way lunar resources as the solution to Climate Change is certainly the biggest priority of all for civilization right now. Going to Mars is a non sequitur.

However, I can see a logical progression of cosmic ray shielded crew compartments being used for first lunar Space Stations, then Lunar Cyclers, and finally nuclear propelled true Spaceships. Using double hulled wet workshops, these “Fat Workshops” would be filled with lunar water for the required mass of shielding as specified by Eugene Parker, providing a near sea level radiation environment. Spun with tether systems to provide artificial Earth gravity, these Stations and Cyclers will enable multi-year tours of duty for astronauts, especially young female astronauts most vulnerable to radiation, with no career shortening dosing and debilitation.

A Nuclear Electric Propulsion module turns these constructs into Spaceships capable of multi-year missions Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit.
If “evolvable is the key”, the question then becomes is Mars really the best destination?
Absolutely not. No possible ocean and too much gravity makes Mars a poor destination.
Ceres then becomes the place to go. Moon to Ceres, “M2C.”

Several comments about industries being destroyed by regulation and inferring the rich are the good guys and the masses are the unwashed enemy of progress need to be answered.

We the People are the masses. And We are not here to serve the rich or their luxury industry.

America was at one time about rich white male landowners seeking to evade taxation and regulation by insurrection against an aristocracy. That was then and this is now. Our ascension to greatest nation on Earth status came about after monopolies and speculation were regulated by We the People and a 91 percent tax rate levied on the rich. Unions and a complicated dance between capitalism and social safety nets created a middle class that held more of the wealth than at any time in history and taxing the rich equipped them with health care, education, and infrastructure to enable and allow all to participate in the pursuit of happiness. That is almost gone. The Reagan Revolution brought a return to a gilded age where the obscenely wealthy wield far too much power. They are unashamedly in the process of redistributing all wealth and property upward to themselves. If We are stupid enough to let them do it then they will. The Trump tax cut handed unimaginable wealth over to those already possessing vast riches.

As the Presidents recent state of the union speech demonstrated, We are not where We were and not going where We needed to go. Wealth inequality is destroying America.

Megaconstellations are the result of an “entrepreneurship” that thrives on corruption and back room deals. If an individual wants to be the king of the internet with 42,000 pieces of space junk, and in his mind the king of the world, why not? This is the danger of incredible wealth and the abuse of power it inevitably brings about. The firehose of falsehood and the amount of chaos sown by monied interests has placed America in danger it has not experienced since the civil war and the Cuban missile crisis. Oligarchy and it’s favorite ideology, fascism, are on the march again.

All of this leads back to the rich seeking to evade taxation and regulation and they are happy to gamble the future of humankind. They don’t give a damn about anything except being rich.

“NASA’s Artemis program is focused on returning astronauts to the moon. The space agency believes there is water ice and other volatiles at the south pole that can support human exploration.”

The autonomous lander that derives water from lunar ice and transports that water up to double hulled wet workshops, “Fat Workshops”, is the critical piece of hardware for establishing a permanent human presence Beyond Earth Orbit. Over twenty times less energy is required to lift water from the lunar surface into space than from Earth. Either in orbit or possibly on the surface, some of the water can be converted into propellants thus allowing the landers to constantly shuttle water into space.

These massively shielded crew compartments, along with tether systems, will provide a Near Sea Level Radiation 1 Gravity (NSLR1G) environment. This will allow astronauts to spend tours of duty of a year or more in space with no appreciable dosing or debilitation, which is the key, especially regarding young female astronauts, to establishing a cislunar infrastructure. These workshop compartments will enable Space Stations in frozen lunar orbit, NRHO, libration points, and GEO.

After lunar Space Stations the next requirement is for Lunar Cyclers that will transport personnel to and from the Moon. These Lunar Cyclers will likely have solar electric systems to maintain their flight paths. The last step will be Nuclear Electric Propulsion modules. The thousand or more tons of water in each cosmic ray shield will also provide a grow medium for a closed loop life support system so the Stations, Cyclers, and Atomic Spaceships will require a minimum of support.

Ice and Lava Tubes are the two must-finds. Actually, the ice is the must-have but Lava Tubes would be nice. We should have known where all the ice and Lava Tubes were a half a century ago. The Moon was always the prize and everything else a distraction.

Very depressing to contemplate where we would be now if they had kept going to the Moon with constantly improved Saturn V. They could have stopped the human-crewed missions and just sent landers and rovers. Those last 40 years of LEO were a waste. We would have learned everything we needed to know with a few years of Skylab-type missions and then moved on. What a waste.

(This comment was also not posted by Marcia) In my view, SpaceX has been the worst thing that has ever happened to space exploration. First by taking the spotlight off the Moon even though evidence for ice should have pointed the space agency away from LEO in 2010. The Obama “been there” speech was made in the shadow of a Falcon 9.

Elon Musk stated Space Solar Power is “the stupidest idea ever” which is exactly what someone with plans to take over the internet with 42,000 LEO satellites would say. The megaconstellation Frankenstein monster will at some point have to be put down. It never should have been allowed.

The Super Heavy has far too many engines and uses the wrong propellent, hydrogen being the stuff to burn and turn into water vapor in the upper atmosphere during thousands of launches a year. The shiny starship is a combination of the shuttle with no wings or landing gear and the external tank. The landing technique makes it plain that no human will ever ride on the shiny without it having an escape system.

Hydrogen engines in the 2 million pound thrust class and Space Solar Power by way of lunar resources was the right turn that went left with Musk. The worst wrong turn in NASA history.

It is fairly obvious that when we explore the subsurface oceans of icy bodies in our solar system the prerequisite will be “true” Atomic Spaceships carrying mini-subs.

The present popular and completely false conception of space travel is fleets of chemically propelled shiny rockets taking indentured servants to a libertarian utopia on Mars. Only the most gullible and ideologically programmed need apply. Mars is a dead-end PR scheme.

The reality is constructs providing a Near Sea Level Radiation 1 Gravity (NSLR1G) environment will be necessary to go anywhere and Mars will likely be bypassed as it has no oceans and too much gravity. Ceres is the place to go after the Moon and after Ceres, Callisto.

The first requirement is radiation shielding, the most utilitarian shielding being water and the way to get that water into space, using the least amount of energy, is to bring it up from the Moon. The second requirement is gravity and tethers are the most efficient way to provide that. The third requirement is a double shell strong enough to hold the water and be spun to provide Earth gravity, with the most efficient way to do that being the Wet Workshop, or in the case of a double hull facilitating a radiation shield, a “Fat Workshop.” The fourth requirement will be nuclear propulsion (NOT nuclear thermal) as chemicals are useless for pushing large masses.

Considering the massive cosmic ray water shield that will be required for long duration Human Space Flight Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit (HSF-BELO) a food staple grown in this moderately irradiated water medium would be the best project to pursue with NASA money.

These thousand plus ton, and likely multi-thousand ton, Cosmic Ray Water Shields (CRWS) would serve several functions on true interplanetary Spaceships. They will not only provide a near sea level radiation level but also dampen oscillation in the over one mile long Tether Generated Artificial Gravity (TGAS) systems providing Earth gravity. The water will also be used in cooling systems. A regenerative life support system providing air, water, and food for years at a time will use the massive amount of water to good effect.

Callisto is outside the main Jovian radiation belts. And while it is true the inner moons would be impossible for a human-crewed mission in a unshielded spacecraft, a true Spaceship with a massive cosmic ray water shield might be able to go there. I have never read anything on that specifically but the heavy nuclei component of galactic cosmic radiation is the most penetrating and damaging form of space radiation according to the world’s leading authority on this subject, Eugene Parker. He specified 16 feet of water to stop cosmic radiation (the “Parker Minimum”) and I am guessing this would stop the far less penetrating type of energetic particles around Jupiter. In which case landing on Europa and deploying a human-crewed mini-sub would be difficult, but a far more interesting mission than Mars. There is also a possibility of subsurface oceans on both Ceres and Callisto but on Europa it is fairly certain. Thanks for the reply.

New Glenn, late 2024.

Two of those 1st stage boosters would be great replacements for the SLS SRB’s.

That would make 18 burning at lift-off. Not as bad as 27 or 33 but still not great. What is missing is a 2 million pound thrust hydrogen oxygen engine to replace the RS-25’s to be recovered by helicopter. Perhaps even LOX crossfeed to the core stage.

With a pair of Glenns replacing the SRB’s and landing back, and the core stage engine module Heli-captured, the original concept of the Shuttle, a Saturn V class launch vehicle that only expends a single tank, would be realized.

Year long ISS missions permanently damage astronauts and should not be allowed. Even six month missions have permanent effects and are ethically problematic. Why do this to people? We already know what dosing and debilitation on the ISS does to the human body and none of it is good.

Until constructs that provide a Near Sea Level Radiation 1 Gravity (NSLR1G) environment are available and the ISS ends, the tours on the ISS should be shortened to an appropriate duration.

Nuclear Thermal Propulsion provides about twice the ISP of chemical rockets at fantastic expense. Hydrogen is also not a “long duration” propellent, being very difficult to store for long periods in space, making NTP an enabler for interplanetary missions unlikely.

Fission is, literally, a million times more powerful than chemical reactions, and the only twice the Isp of NTP is a fail. Work at MIT in thermo-photovoltaic-cells (TPV) has the potential to vastly simplify electrical generation by nuclear reactors in space and, along with recent University of Michigan high power testing of Hall thrusters, make Nuclear Electric Propulsion the better path.

While NTP claims of three times (up to “five times” in other articles) the efficiency of chemical rockets may be possible, it is more likely “aspirational” as the temperatures and pressures necessary make it close to handwavium. No matter what tricks are used at some point the material in the reactor starts melting. It is possible some new technology or design to make NTP viable is being used but nothing concerning this has been said or inferred.

There is the possibility this new NTP project, which I do not believe has been funded yet, will be highly profitable and selected for exactly that reason. If there is a critical need for a hi thrust/hi Isp system, then Nuclear Pulse Propulsion is by far the most logical choice as an essentially off the shelf and readily available, if politically problematic, option. Surely our new Space Force has the power to revisit NPP and overcome old political barriers to what could be used to defend Earth from impact threats as well as enable interplanetary missions?

RDRE’s may happen or, like aerospike engines, may not. I read a 20 percent efficiency gain somewhere which would bump a hydrogen oxygen engine like the RL10 up to an Isp of over 550. While I wish it to be so with all my heart I don’t think any 2 million pound thrust triple nickel Isp engines are around the corner.

The showstopper for Human Space Flight Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit (HSF-BELO) is dosing and debilitation. The solution is massive shielding and artificial gravity and entails a crew compartment, tether system, and structure massing, at minimum, two or three thousand tons. While this always sparks outrage from the NewSpace crowd it is the reality that must be accepted if any progress is ever going to be made.

This multi-thousand ton requirement is based on the “Parker Minimum” that specifies cosmic ray shielding for a small capsule of 400 tons of plastic or 500 tons of water, with water being more utilitarian. For any long duration mission a “small capsule” will obviously not work so doubling the mass of water results in 1000 tons. Increase this figure by half again or double it for the actual structure and necessary equipment. Then place the propulsion system at the other end of the tether system. Chemical propulsion is of course useless for pushing such mass around the solar system so nuclear energy also becomes a requirement.

Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP), with an Isp roughly twice that of chemicals, is a fail. This leaves only one practical and available system; Nuclear Pulse Propulsion (NPP). The repurposed nuclear weapons used in NPP can propel a Spaceship in two ways. The first is the “Medusa-type”, a large flexible “Spinnaker” that pulls the crew section, and the second is the “Orion-type”, a plate that pushes the crew section.

Besides Nuclear Electric Propulsion (NEP), which has not been fully developed, there is Fission Fragment Propulsion (FFP), which would require a completely new trillion dollar nuclear manufacturing infrastructure to produce the Americium fuel.

What I find fascinating is the trillion dollar modernization of our nuclear deterrent going on that is largely useless in terms of keeping it effective. Bombers cannot be kept in the air 24/7 and their bases are vulnerable. Submarines can no longer hide in oceans infested with sea glider drones and are vulnerable. And ICBMs are of course targeted in their silos. The launch-on-warning situation of two adversaries holding pistols to each others heads has gone on for well over half a century and still threatens to burn civilization to the ground and incinerate billions with a decision made in minutes.

The dream of so many, a nuclear weapon free planet, is actually possible by basing the arsenals of the superpowers months away in deep space on human-crewed “space boomers.” And it would cost about as much as the missiles, submarines, and bombers, that have been rendered obsolescent. These Atomic Spaceships could even deflect impact threats so we don’t go like the dinosaurs. That would be an actual “force in space.”

What technology is that? I don’t think it is the technology that is the problem. It is the purpose itself that is soon to be obsolete. The obscene spending displays of the super-rich are not going to be around for much longer. The calls to tax billionaires are going to end these space joyrides, along with fleets of private jets, mega-yachts, mansions and multi-thousand acre ranches. We the People are starting to realize the chaos and culture wars sown by the right have always been about one thing: distracting the citizenry from voting to tax and regulate the super-rich. The Reagan Revolution has run it’s 40 year course and the world is changing back to a new deal.

The loss of 20 percent of the middle class, the tens of millions of Americans that have fallen into poverty, while vast wealth was redistributed upward to the billionaire class, is going to be reversed.

The Space Shuttle was meant to be the “National Launch Vehicle” that would subsidize the satellite industry by launching all commercial payloads while making space exploration “pay for itself.”

These small launchers are still chasing that “something for nothing” that always ends with nothing, it is just a different path.

A hydrogen oxygen reusable VTVL Super Heavy Lift Vehicle can lift the large pieces into GEO to assemble very large platforms that will provide civilization with abundant telecommunications. LEO satellites should be few and strictly regulated and megaconstelliations….should never have been permitted. That Frankenstein monster is taking form and books will be written about it’s coming disastrous animation.

The more they make, the more they don’t spend. You don’t seem to understand how rich they actually are. Billionaires actually push for flat tax foolishness. They come out way ahead. The only three kinds of taxes that affect the super-wealthy are progressive, that is, 91 percent on top earners, as it was during most of the 20th century, windfall, and inheritance. They have always had shelters that serve them in escaping most taxes anyway, and revising the tax code to make it simple and harder to cheat is also something they dread.

“The other low hanging fruit is solar power, BUT it probably needs a decade (or two) of R&D before large scale construction can begin. For a start, perhaps a couple of proof-of-concepts?”

Almost all the R&D was already completed decades ago. The numbers are clear on exactly what is beamed down from space onto exactly what size antennae field and what comes out of that field and into the power grid. There are no real questions left to answer except one- will that amount of energy negatively affect the atmosphere. Considering the relatively narrow beam and the nature of the microwaves, the most likely answer is it will cause little or no negative effects. Large scale construction should begin NOW so the effects can be measured and a ….a total commitment to powering civilization from space made. There are many who would not profit and do not want this.

After the question is answered and the commitment made, the Moon is where the solar cells will be manufactured. So, in my view, you have two of them nailed; Space Solar and the Moon. As for LEO “commercial space stations”, they are a farce and a complete dead end.

Boots on the ground, or rather, under the surface of the Moon, will be required to set up solar cell factories. Those workers will require transportation by Lunar Cyclers and lunar Space Stations as transfer points. These constructs will require Near Sea Level Radiation 1 Gravity (NSLR1G) crew compartments and once they are in place the pipeline producing them can add Spaceships with the addition of nuclear propulsion modules. It would be stupid not adding Spaceships to the cislunar infrastructure for defending Earth from impact threats. Why not explore icy bodies with them?

As always, big aerospace is after the easy money and defense and commercial and even interchangeable megaconstellations are all they see right now.

The space show host has guests that are largely conservative and often climate change deniers. Those that comment there are definitely far right climate deniers and several anti-vaxers. It is even worse than spacex news if that is possible.

Musk is obsessed with owning the internet and that is the entire reason for Starship and Starlink. He gave his game away when he bought twitter. Being king of cyberspace is the key to his weird brain. You will get nothing from him that matters to anyone but him.

Fossil Fuel interests will NOT allow any progress on Space Solar Power unless We the People drag their politicians kicking and screaming and make them do it or get voted out.

Simple as that.

“Nuclear powers resort to basing their nuclear weapons in silos, submarines, and on rail and road-mobile vehicles to reduce vulnerability from an adversary’s counterforce strike-“

We are currently expending over a trillion dollars over the next decade to modernize our deterrent.
Bombers are vulnerable to a preemptive “counterforce strike” on their bases as it is not practical to keep a nuclear armed bomber force in the air 24/7. Even keeping them ready for immediate launch with bombs loaded is not done anymore as it is extremely expensive. This has not stopped the Air Force from building a new fleet of stealth bombers.
Submarines are now almost certainly tracked in oceans infested with sea glider drones and are also vulnerable to a counterforce strike. This has not stopped the Navy from building a new fleet of missile submarines.
The ICBM third leg of the triad will also soon be replaced but missile silos are the whole reason for a triad due to these silos being precisely targeted and the most vulnerable to a counterforce strike. While Russia and China have mobile systems the U.S. does not.

The term “counterforce” is terrifying in itself as it presumes a scenario where a nuclear war is “winnable” by first destroying the adversaries arsenal. That it is still actually talked about is….terrifying. In the event of a nuclear war the most likely attack and response is to launch everything. This is called M.A.D. or mutually assured destruction. The result would be the fragile agriculture/transportation/refrigeration infrastructure of the global food supply chain being destroyed and the majority of the human race dying as cannibal armies roam the Earth. The end of the world as we know it. This is really what would happen.

The superpowers rely on satellite warning to preserve deterrence by assuring that missiles can be launched and destroy the enemy in the event they attack. The danger of small satellite proliferation is the temptation to engage in a limited “satellite war” to intimidate an adversary becomes too great to resist. Such a game would instantly spin out of control and end the world. Small launchers and megaconstellations are too destabilizing and never should have been permitted.

Climate Change might suddenly make everything different. If some world leader catches on and says follow me… and shames the rest into entertaining the idea, who knows. If that goofball can sell 42,000 pieces of space junk enabling video gamers in Nebraska then anything is possible.

The reality is 70 launches per day. Since factory tooling is going to the Moon to build everything there, cut that in half to 35 launches a day. And it won’t replace 1/3rd, it will replace all powerplants on Earth. A hydrogen oxygen SHLV that only reenters the second stage engine module and third stage engine, not tankage, which goes on to be used as a wet workshop, will be the standard. It is absolutely clear that arguing against Space Solar Power is an exercise in disinformation.

The precedent for a Space Solar Power manufacturing infrastructure on the Moon is World War 2. If nations can mobilize on such a vast scale against fascism and imperialism they can certainly do so to avert a Climate Catastrophe. There are no showstoppers to this except fossil fuel interests and others busy making money on military megaconstellations…and naysayers proclaiming “reality.”

While the Navy encounters certainly have elements of mystery, there is zero physical evidence. No Chariots of the Gods. Those who “want to believe” are in the same class intellectually as election and climate deniers, and anti-vaxxers, that is, the biggest threat to democracy Americans face.

We are, as a nation, endlessly distracted by make-a-buck con artists. Politics is now being corrupted by dark money and confidence criminals as never before. The culture wars are not being explained by the media for what they are; a way for the super-rich to avert attention from taxing and regulating them. Their absolute greed is on course to change America into an autocratic oligarchy.

Here is the key for space advocates: for reasons extraneous to space policy, Climate Change denial is the single biggest threat to quality of life on Earth, as fossil fuel interests safeguard their profits-to-come over the coming decades. Space Solar Power by way of lunar resources is the solution to Climate Change and will realize the greatest dreams of space advocates. The false prophet who stated Space Solar is “the stupidest idea ever” is the worst thing that has ever happened to space exploration.

I have to disagree. The most realistic solution does not involve factories building renewable energy devices on Earth. Manufacturing solar panels and wind turbines presently requires energy mostly provided by the very fossil fuels they seek to replace, and this has zero prospect of being able to keep up with demand. The requirement is a western standard of living for 10 billion human beings and that amount of energy can only happen if beamed down from space. Building the satellites on Earth only adds to the problem. Building the satellites on the Moon solves the problem. It is the only real solution.

Familiarity with the technologies in question, critical thinking skills, and the ability to troubleshoot, to eliminate distractors and bias, leads to this conclusion.

No…Dragon is definitely ugly. The Edsel of capsules. And the spacesuits are even worse. Only the weirdness of Elon could have approved them. Like they are jokes to amuse himself. I am not amused.

“In themselves, there is nothing ‘military’ about satellites. Satellites only enable In themselves, there is nothing ‘military’ about satellites. Satellites only enable over-the-horizon communications or target identification of potential targets on ground or at-sea. .”

In themselves, satellites are essentially military devices. By enabling over-the-horizon communications or target identification of potential targets on ground or at-sea, in wartime they can be classed as nothing else but targets themselves.

Space Solar Power satellites built in lunar factories can completely power civilization by the end of the century and provide a western standard of living for 10 billion people.

The ice on the Moon is a critical resource for setting up those lunar factories. It is the only real solution to Climate Change. If we mobilized a significant percentage of the human race to fight World War 2 we can do the same to avert a catastrophe.

“Bruno said it would take several years before ULA can begin to recover and reuse the first-stage BE-4 engines.”

Reuse is only part of the problem for evolving commercial space. Hydrogen is the propellent causing the least damage to the atmosphere and concerns about the effects of byproducts in the upper atmosphere mean the days of any rocket engine that does not burn hydrogen and oxygen are numbered. Even the number of launches is going to be limited which entails far larger launch vehicles with larger engines in the 2 million pound thrust range.

Even with hydrogen/oxygen engines, bringing back the second stage tankage as the shiny is supposedly going to do will soon be unacceptable. This is due to the large-surface-generated amounts of nitrogen compounds during reentry events. Taking into account economy of scale, this means the only acceptable launch vehicles are going to be VTVL (Vertical Take-off Vertical Landing) Super Heavy Lift Vehicles (SHLV’s) that do not land back the second stage tankage.

Using the atmosphere to dispose of satellites and upper stages is not going to be acceptable in the future any more than using so many cheap and nasty small launchers. This places limits on utilizing LEO, which was always a dead end, and moves almost all activity to much higher orbits where recycling can take place. The logical progression is to a cislunar infrastructure that begins in GEO and stretches across the cislunar sea to lunar orbit. No LEO megaconstellations.

VTVL-SHLV’s will most likely launch and land back the first stage but only the second stage engine module will reenter immediately while the tankage and third stage will leave Earth orbit. The engine section of the third stage will separate and do a free return around the Moon all the way back to Earth to reenter and likely be heli-captured. The second and third stage tank structure, along with all satellites, will be reused as depots, crew compartments, and raw material for a cislunar infrastructure. Space Solar Power by way of lunar resources as the solution to Climate Change is the best possible future for commercial space.

I was listening to Naomi Oreskes on the Majority Report earlier today and she was talking about market fundamentalists. A perfect description of the dunce cap sociopaths that have stalked me on these forums for so many years, and whose several comments I just glanced at on my phone before averting my eyes in disgust . “-they believe strongly in a cosmic conflict between communism and capitalism, and they fear any compromise to free market capitalism, even a modest one,- would put us on a slippery slope to socialism, communism and soviet style totalitarianism.”

The Big Myth (the title of Oreskes new book) is that if we simply trust in the market, and give it absolute god-like freedom, then it is the best of all possible worlds. The problem of course is that what they are really talking about, when they use the word “freedom”, is greed. There have always been rules and regulation to restrain the corrupting influence of greed but the fundamentalists reject this. They reject science if it might affect the market, as with covid, they reject science if it threatens profits, as with climate change. They reject democracy because it “encroaches” on the free market as an enlightened citizenry will always eventually vote to tax and regulate those who seek to take everything. Oligarchs make wage slaves of as many as they can, always. Anti-science antigovernment conspiracies are distractions.

NewSpace is in many ways the ultimate expression of the church of market fundamentalism. It has corrupted almost everything good the space colonization movement hoped for. And that is why I am so hated….for exposing the rabid fanboys, especially the mentally disturbed ones, for what they are. When I offer new ideas, and criticize billionaire foolishness, it is blasphemy and they go crazy. As the comments below prove.

That was a big bowl of zero nutrition word salad. What a waste of time.
“That assessment usually presents an eloquent advocacy document for the field, but the process also protects the results from becoming narrowly self-serving for just one point of view or idea for the future direction of the field. In other words,-“

Don’t need any other words. A very good illustration of why NASA has made so many wrong turns and so very few right ones. Anything meaningful they could have accomplished after Apollo obviously died in committee.
We landed on the Moon and then retreated to LEO because aerospace was not making enough money on non-cold-war constructs. Did they ever discuss that or just “protect themselves”?

We built a Space Shuttle that was so incredibly flawed an article written before it ever launched by a sportswriter foresaw almost precisely it’s destiny. Many look unfavorably on and trivialize Easterbrook’s “Beam us out of this”, but it told the story. With apologies to Dwayne Day, so many seem to be protecting something, instead of troubleshooting the problem.

NASA then adopted the cheap and nasty “Flexible Path” that relied on a bizarro billionaire as it’s guiding light to steer the agency away from the Moon even as the ice resource that made a permanent presence almost obligatory was discovered. It took a director appointed by chance by the worst president in U.S. history to point NASA back at the prize it never should have taken it’s eyes off of.

And lastly, facing a Climate Catastrophe, Space Solar Power by way of lunar resources as the solution should have transformed the Space Agency or even been the genesis of some new entity like, “the Solar Energy Space Transportation Administration.” Instead the American people received a new branch of the military that does not fight, but spends as much as the NASA budget on filling LEO with satellites in a redux of the cold war money machine.

NASA has followed very little good advice in over half a century and what little they have, very half-heartedly. No SESTA on the horizon.

“Fortunately, the US can prevent both outcomes. To do so, the US must adhere to three rules in its approach to STM. First, the STM system must be-“

The opportunity to “bad-actor proof”, “warn and defend”, and create some “structure” has long since past. The bad actor who started the megaconstellation nightmare was never warned-off his rule-cyberspace-plan and no defense has been made. Any structure to control this was burned down at the beginning. It is greed of the worst kind that drives this strip-mining of Earth orbit. The new military service created to cash in now has a larger budget than NASA and is enriching shareholders in a replay of the cold war build-up to 70,000 nukes ready to incinerate the planet at the push of a button. The dream and promise of space has truly died. The true path and key to realizing all the dreams of space advocates, powering civilization with Space Solar Power, has been strangled in the cradle. The billionaire grifter who helped in the murder is a disturbed extremist.

“The United States is standing at the precipice of a new era in space security. The Biden Administration faces an historic opportunity to build an STM regime well-suited to the new space age.”

Not much hope of preventing falling off the cliff at this point. The prerequisite to a second space age is a national launch vehicle like the Saturn V and what is variously being billed as such are poor designs. But anything is possible. If Biden was to embrace Space Solar Power by way of lunar resources as the solution to Climate Change then this would be the first step. The second step would be to put down the megaconstellation Frankenstein before it is brought fully to life by severely restricting the number and type of satellites allowed in LEO and disbanding the Space Force- or at minimum limiting them to some other function, such as controlling the ICBM force and nuclear deterrent. The third step would be creating a “Solar Energy Space Transportation Administration” (SESTA) and facilitate mirror entities internationally as part of an “International Solar Energy Space Transportation Association.”

Harris Meets with Space Advisory Group as Mission Authorization Deadline Nears

(Another comment Marcia did not post)

Nothing about Space Solar Power as the solution to Climate Change. Why is this never discussed?

“There has been, though, little commercial interest in the H3 so far despite its lower cost, which remains high compared to competitors like SpaceX’s Falcon 9.”

I opined on hydrogen as the only acceptable propellent and Vertical Take-off Vertical Landing Super Heavy Lift Vehicles (VTVL-SHLV’s) as the only acceptable future launch vehicles on another forum. I was promptly attacked by several of the sociopaths that have cyberstalked me for years. That particular opinion of mine seems to be a trigger that drives them even more insane for some reason.

“It will take a couple of years to actually be reusing the engines,” he said, including technology demonstrations like the test of an inflatable decelerators flown as a secondary payload on an Atlas 5 launch last fall. “Eventually, we’ll have the confidence to recover them, inspect them, and them reuse them. That will happen in this window of a few years.”

The problems the launch industry faces are fundamental and serious. The first is, of course, the Frankenstein monster that is megaconstellations, which never should have been permitted. The second is the proliferation of small launchers competing to cash in on megaconstellations, which also never should have been permitted. The third is the propellants and structures used which have been recognized as harmful to the upper atmosphere if launched in the quantities necessary to maintain all the proposed megaconstellations.

The solutions to the problems are to first turn off the megaconstellation “revolution” by severely restricting the number and type of LEO satellites. The replacement is Space Solar Power by way of lunar resources as the solution to Climate Change. It follows that hydrogen VTVL-SHLV’s and refinements to that concept that minimize reentry byproducts will result in a launch industry orders of magnitude larger than the get-rich-quick monstrosity now in progress.

Like Walmart, Super Heavy Lift Vehicles present an economy of scale that no smaller operators can hope to match. In my view the same relationship is true for satellites. The single advantage of LEO, low latency, cannot hope to match the economy of very large platforms in GEO. As part of a cislunar infrastructure, GEO platforms can recycle material thus limiting what reenters and minimizing effects on the upper atmosphere. This is, in my opinion, the key to vastly increasing space activities. The present trend going in the opposite direction is a mess. The worst thing that could have happened.

Though the shiny has some attributes of the most desirable type of launcher, it is, however, problematic, being expressly designed to populate megaconstellations and fill Earth orbit with endless junk.

The only good I can see in this is the White Knight and Roc as being extremely interesting aircraft configurations in regard to airline safety. A centrally mounted passenger pod could be equipped with solid fuel rockets and parachutes and make airline disasters far more survivable. The twin fuselages could also carry liquid hydrogen and thus decarbonize the airline industry.

They Are Here

Soon enough the unspeakable will be known to all: the final solution to climate change, and all white grievance. The idea has been evolving since the rise of Neoliberalism and will manifest as a crusade to exterminate 7 billion, leaving a “White Planet” of 1 billion. The Neo-Fascists are already in government and no matter how hard they try not to, they give themselves away and tell us who they are.


The final solution to all problems on Earth for the extreme right, white nationalists, and Neo-Fascists, will soon become “what is not to be spoken of” as their secret “New Deal.” That is, to exterminate all non-whites, jews, progressives, and useless eaters. This would leave approximately a billion people left on a White Planet with all the culture war and environmental problems suddenly solved. This cannot be allowed to happen. The only way to avert this path to genocide that I can see is Space Solar Power by way of lunar resources. The entire planet mobilized, as it was in World War 2, to avert a Climate Catastrophe by completely powering civilization from space. A “Green New Space Deal” would preemptively defeat a Neo-Fascist/Neo-Nazi “White Planet movement.”

As the saying goes, history does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme. While World War 2 was the central event of the 20th century, Climate Catastrophe is on track to wreck the planet and kill billions in the 21st century. The ideologies that fought to the death in the last century, Fascist-Imperialism and Communist-Totalitarianism, were defeated by a nation with a mixed economy featuring elements of both. America tipped the scales against both extremes in that global conflict and now must do so again.

We MUST, or America may end and the human race spiral into a dark age unlike any before.

Comments 23-1

I wanted to comment about Space Solar Power on the first day of the new year but the only news is about endless satellites. However, this and most space forums are really about endless satellites and Space Solar Power itself is about endless satellites so I can comment on almost any post. I would like to see 2023 become a turning point for Space Solar Power. Considering the scale of human suffering on the way there is no time to lose. It took ten years after Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring to finally ban DDT, which was done in 1972 by the President that created the EPA, Nixon. Nixon, for all his criminal activities, saw how important the environment was and his base was very unhappy about this. Climate Change was mentioned 4 years later in the book “The High Frontier” with Space Solar Power as preventing a warming of the planet. A half a century after bipartisan support for clean water and air and saving the environment we have Oligarch’s fighting for deregulation and the continuation of the fossil fuel industry. And the planet is now warming at an accelerating rate.

In 1973 the environmental movement was abandoned by many on the right due to a downturn in the economy and it no longer had bipartisan support. With Reaganomics the separation widened. Despite warnings from as early as 1958, monied interests have always paid to subvert and avert any efforts to address Climate Change.

Civilization has run out of time and a catastrophe is in the making. Space Solar Power by way of lunar resources can power civilization from space. The only thing stopping it from happening and saving millions, or even billions of lives, and ending “the sixth extinction”, is propaganda paid for by those holding fossil fuel wealth. It would be great if space enthusiasts were to help make 2023 the year Space Solar became the solution to Climate Change. The news should be about endless satellites beaming power down from space.

I have been waiting for this story to appear but Parabolic Arc seems to have missed it. I really want to comment on this but not on SpacexNews, which swarms with trolls, so here goes:

“DARPA is investing in nuclear propulsion for space vehicles in hopes of successfully demonstrating an engine that can fly across vast distances in cislunar space, the area between Earth and the moon. Nuclear thermal propulsion achieves high thrust-to-weight similar to chemical propulsion but with two to five times the efficiency,” said DARPA. NASA is participating in the project, with the goal of also using nuclear thermal propulsion for long-duration human spaceflight missions.”

It is hard to believe NTP is being developed considering the extreme inefficiency of this system. It is possible some new principle could be involved to make Nuclear Thermal practical but not probable and nothing even inferring this has been mentioned. “Five times the efficiency” is not really credible as the temperatures required melt anything and make such a claim almost handwavium. For only about twice the Isp of chemical engines, using hydrogen which is not a “long-duration” propellent, a vast amount of funding will go into Nuclear Thermal. Only twice as efficient is a fail as it does NOT enable long duration deep space human missions, not carrying cosmic ray shielding anyway. Fission is, literally, a million times more powerful than chemical reactions. The only two viable options for using fission efficiently are Nuclear Pulse and Nuclear Electric. Nuclear Thermal is quite simply the worst path and looks like a money machine.

Nuclear Pulse is absolutely the best path, but universally condemned, undeservedly, as “politically unacceptable”, because it uses repurposed nuclear weapons. The other option is Nuclear Electric and recent advances in Thermophotovoltaic cells (TPV) make such a system far less complicated and this might happen. The dream machine is Fission Fragment but this system would require an entirely new trillion dollar nuclear industry to produce the easily fragmenting isotope and is not likely to happen for a very long time. “Ronen’s group at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev further showed that nuclear fuel based on 242mAm could speed space vehicles from Earth to Mars in as little as two weeks.[7]” (wiki)

“The private sector can build an alternative to SLS and Orion.”

A good point. They can build an alternative, but whether it will be any good is the question.

The Moon landing was the benchmark, the guide, the single great lesson of the 20th century. How America accomplished that while a totalitarian soviet republic failed is what we should use as a model. Especially considering we have accomplished nothing comparable in over half a century since. The space age essentially ended in 1972 with Apollo 17.

I would ask first what is the raison d’être of space flight? Is it to just make money with satellites and anything else is a waste of tax dollars? Should NASA be disbanded and space left to “entrepreneurs”? Or is there some defining reason for space exploration that validates state sponsorship of a second space age?

There was World War ll, which saw totalitarian fascism and communism locked in a death struggle and our Democracy involved in an exercise in self-preservation. Then the Cold War which I remember very well and was fairly sure would be the end of the world. The Moon landing was a Cold War battle and also an attempt to mitigate poverty in the south and many other things besides. Now in the 21st century what do we have that justifies “a new war”?

Climate Change is the new conflict and the reason beyond the profit motive. Space Solar Power is our defense, the new priority. Trillions of dollars spent to stop the degradation of the environment, to end this sixth extinction, to avert catastrophe, is the battle. Simple.

Just as NASA specified the general design of the Saturn V, it is obvious what this design for future Space Solar Power missions should be. And the Shiny is not it.

“Government is less efficient than the private sector.”

That, in regards to trickle-down economics, for-profit medicine, private prisons, etc., is propaganda bought and paid for by faux think tanks. Efficiency is an easily corrupted measure and the private sector is forever spinning the numbers and paying off politicians and academia to create this widely held false assumption. In reality it is a half and half proposition with ideally balanced public and private sectors, the public enabling the private.

“The private sector can build an alternative to SLS and Orion. But it can’t spin up a lunar water operation, or mine an asteroid, or build a solar power satellite, because the technological risks and the long time horizon for an uncertain return won’t attract investors.”

For-profit production of space hardware makes sense because corporations are a kind of mini-government with shareholders voting out boards of directors who do not succeed in turning a profit. If a single major shareholder runs the company, this is the fine line between timocracy and plutocracy/oligarchy. Betting civilization on the whimsy of narcissist billionaires is not the path We the people should take.

America became great beyond all other nations for a few decades as a mixed economy with a complicated dance of strictly regulated and taxed capitalism backed up by a social safety net. The main driver of American exceptionalism being a highly motivated, healthy, and educated middle class. The enabler of that driven work force was a 90% tax on top earners. That is now gone.

I think our last hope to avoid a global catastrophe is for the state to mandate the end of burning fossil fuels and direct industry toward a total conversion to Space Solar Power.

Bottom line: the fossil fuel industry continues to enrich shareholders for the remainder of their lives. And the rest of the world pays for their morbid wealth in the end. “Transition” is all about not changing anything.

The reality is the vast amounts of money pouring like a waterfall over the DOD and the defense industry could just as easily be diverted, the majority of it diverted, into building rockets for Space Solar Power missions. We ramped up and converted many industries to war production in World War ll and can do it again for Space Solar Power. Taxing Oligarchy into oblivion and transforming our industrial base from military-centered into Space Solar Power-centered is what is required to avert a Climate Catastrophe.

But because of all the enablers with charts we are not talking about that. In fact, any such discussion is called, “the stupidest idea ever.”

A new Cold War is emerging in space driven by desire of the Communist Chinese Party to dominate the world. Ignoring this threat by focusing on utopian dreams is foolish. No other nation but the United States is capable of.… kickstarting a new cold war in space as a new money-maker. Thus continuing to divert attention and funding from Space Solar Power and continuing to protect fossil fuel interests.

Space Solar Power is not a utopian dream, but sinophobe-profiteering is an old nightmare I am familiar with from the turn of the century. The defense industry and fossil fuel interests are determined to avoid any response to Climate Change that would cut into their profits. China is one way to divert attention and make money doing it.

(First) “Such democratic space developments will include harnessing renewable energy in space like space-based solar power (SBSP) that will help tackle climate change, development of the Moon as an industrial hub enabled by responsible regulation,-“

This is confusing to citizens when it must first be understood that democracy began as a way to tax and regulate Oligarchs in ancient Greece. These individuals kept avoiding paying anything to the city-state that protected them and whose people and port made their wealth possible. These Oligarchs also were constantly arranging for war with other city-states to steal their wealth. Athenians collectively created their democracy to limit Oligarch power. Democracy is the enemy of Oligarchy and the vast wealth inequality present in the world today is not something to present monolithically.

This is a modern age cult of “freedom” with millions programmed to worship money and the greed of the individual, placing profit above human life. This cult demonizes the collective by direction and funding to influencers serving Oligarchs.

(Second) “-utilization of space resources like helium-3 and water ice is galvanizing-“

The ice is “galvanizing” only to those of us who understand what a critical resource it is in effecting “SBSP.” Helium-3 is really a farce and citing a farce is not credible.

(Third) “By resources, I mean stable long-term financing and joint ventures, such as, for example, a joint venture between the US and Japan or other members of the Quad on SBSP or lunar development for resource utilization. That would be a gamechanger, something innovative and inspiring. If successful, it will have the potential to change the world energy situation.”

The fossil fuel industry has trillions of dollars in future profits dependent on NOT suddenly being called upon, through taxation and regulation, to immediately begin an emergency plan to switch off all powerplants, stop burning all fossil fuels, and to power civilization from space. This goes unstated. At present there are no technical obstacles to Space Solar Power as the technology has been under development since the first patent in 1969, the year we landed on the Moon.
It will be successful.

They mention hydrogen because of the propellent mixture and exhaust products from certain rocket engine designs. However a full-flow design, as used with Raptor, minimizes this- unfortunately Raptor does not use hydrogen, methane being far worse no matter what kind of engine. The other worry is reentry byproducts which affect the atmosphere in ways micrometeorites do not. The figure I have seen is 10 to the 5th, or 100,000 launches per year, as being where problems could begin. I suspect bad things at a far lower number based on past experience with CFC’s. Economy of scale means using SHLV’s would greatly reduce the effects. SHLV’s are, and always have been, the best path. The myriad small launchers should not be allowed.

With smaller launchers supporting megaconstellations that will likely number well over 100,000 satellites, with many going up daily to replace those coming down, this will certainly do harm to the environment. For megaconstellations this is only one of several problems, with the law of unintended consequences making a bad outcome a certainty.

The solution is in the opposite direction with a very few, very large GEO platforms, constructed with very large full flow hydrogen engine reusable launch vehicles, and nothing coming back down. Too bad for the rural video gamers, which is really the only group that will suffer. Megaconstellations were a bad idea that never should have been permitted.

Sadly, this 10 to the 5th criticism is now sometimes used to malign Space Solar Power as not being the solution to the looming Climate Catastrophe. The reality is studies showing that turning the Moon into a factory site means no fantastic number of launches are required. The irony is that state-sponsored Space Solar Power is the sure path to expanding humankind into space, as foreseen by Gerard K. O’Neill, while the NewSpace libertarian “entrepreneur” mess is the worst thing that could have happened. NewSpace proponents, intentionally or duped, are working directly against Human Space Flight and colonization. For many it is not about space and only about conservative ideology.

Not a long discussion really. I see the common good served by a mixed economy. The complex formula of a strictly regulated economy and highly taxed top earners backed up by a social safety net, and an appropriately funded infrastructure is what made America great. Privatization has repeatedly been a poor move for Americans. Texas power grid woes, private prisons, charter schools, health care….all have failed miserably to privative efficiently with only the very few successes held up as their totality. A massive neoliberal con job. Much of the grand free market success claimed by the right is very often subsidized heavily by the government and taxpayer in some way. Things like highways and bridges and airports and many other requirements for people to get rich all start with taxes. And now the rich do not pay anything close to what they did, which is the beginning of the end.

“The Shiny Starship” is the avatar of the end of the dream. As it stands, Starship, Starlink, and Space Force are the NewSpace nightmare come true. The very worst path to follow and the propaganda manipulated public is allowing this unfolding calamity. Several horrendous cults and extreme right-wing groups are hoping to “accelerate” their agendas by way of “free speech absolutism” and the destabilization NewSpace is contributing to . We have profoundly changed the ecosystem burning fossil fuels for over a century and mitigating this by beaming down energy from space has been called “the stupidest idea ever.” By the person behind Starship and Starlink of course. Instead of shifting money from the military to Space Solar Power to avert a Climate Catastrophe, a new branch of the military created to wage satellite war now has more funding than NASA. With a good chunk of those billions going to everyone’s favorite rocket company. Instead of a state-sponsored international public works project funding Space Solar Power missions, we have private and military megaconstellations of satellites filling Earth orbit with junk. All of this enabled and supported by a proto-fascist cabal that tried and will certainly continue to try to overthrow the government.

Far from the vision of the true prophet of space colonization, Gerard K. O’Neill. His group sought to expand humankind into the solar system by way of the economic engine of Space Solar Power. His hope was to curb poverty and warfare, and end the overpopulation and overheating of the planet by moving the majority of the human race into space. And in the coming centuries return the Earth to a pristine state. Instead we have the corrosive corruption of Neoliberalism actively pursuing the end of democracy and a return of civilization to a neo-feudalist condition. NewSpace and several silicon valley Oligarchs are all integral to this dystopian future.

“There are approximately 900,000 pieces from 1 to 10 cm. The current count of large debris (defined as 10 cm across or larger) is 34,000.”

It is going to take laser brooms sweeping the debris back down into the atmosphere. Eventually, processing stations to recycle old satellites in orbit so they stop burning up in the atmosphere. Alumina and other elements not found in meteorites are doing things to the upper atmosphere that can only have bad consequences. Along with going to Hydrogen Oxygen Super Heavy Lift Vehicles, this is the future of space. Megaconstellations will at some point be first restricted, and then completely forbidden. They are an incredibly bad idea and never should have been allowed.

Inflatable heat shields and Heli-capture are not new ideas and have been proposed since the 1960’s. Making them work now is better late than never. The Shuttle concept, which was a Saturn V class launch vehicle that sacrificed a single tank on the altar of the rocket equation- was excellent- but executed in about the worst way possible.

The inflatable heat shield is a critical piece of hardware that would have allowed a 1.5 to 2 million pound thrust hydrogen oxygen engine like the 1966 M-1 to be mounted at the bottom of the Shuttle External Tank and parachute captured with a heavy lift helicopter. Another concept was propellent cross-feed which, unlike the SRB’s, would have been enabled by pressure-fed or semi-pressure-fed hydrogen oxygen boosters to feed the core stage of the Shuttle. The pressure-fed concept was to use the structurally robust boosters, able to withstand ocean recovery, to be highly pressurized and eliminate, or in a “semi-pressure-fed” design, greatly reduce the size/complexity of turbopumps.

In a configuration much like the SLS, the Space Transportation System could have used boosters with propellent cross-feed, and a single core engine that was heli-captured for reuse. This would have allowed crewed missions with a reusable escape tower and capsule plus a large Human Space Flight payload. Or, like the new SpaceX entry, this would have allowed very large un-crewed cargo launches. And would probably still be flying.

We already know what level of spin gravity counteracts ill effects. 1G.

We already have structures rated for several G’s- the tankage for the vehicles themselves, and the concept for using these empty stages as crew compartments has been around a long time- it is called the Wet Workshop. These stages conveniently use hydrogen and oxygen propellants so an inner and outer hull facilitates the solution to dosing and debilitation- a massive water shield between these inner and outer hulls. Water derived from lunar ice can be lifted from the Moon into space with 20 times less energy than from Earth. Multi-ton slugs of ice can even be fired into space from gas or rail guns on the Moon to processing stations.

As for making do with lesser amounts of gravity, this robs people of their birthright as it weakens the human body and makes returning to Earth an unpleasant process. That we evolved in 1G makes it a prerequisite if humans are expected to thrive and not just survive. This is why Gerard K. O’Neill’s people in the 70’s very quickly ruled out any other natural bodies for colonization. A Near Sea Level Radiation 1 Gravity (NSLR1G) environment is the fundamental requirement for any long duration human activity in space. There is no way around this.

While Spaceships can use tethers, low gravity bodies, especially icy ones, facilitate the construction of circular trains that can keep only small numbers of people healthy. For larger populations the artificial space habitats will necessarily be miles in diameter.
These are called Bernal Spheres.

South Korea builds some of the largest ships on Earth and also their own submarine hulls now. Partnering with Adranos they could build less toxic super powerful SRBs like the 325 inch solid:

“Notional solid rocket engine. Study 1963. Recoverable motors; separation at 1,972 m/s at 53,000 m altitude; splashdown using retrorockets under 3 61 m diameter parachutes 610 km downrange. Solid propellant rocket stage. Massed estimated based on tank volumes, total thrust, and first stage burnout conditions. Recoverable stage; separation at 1,972 m/s at 53,000 m altitude; splashdown using retrorockets under 3 61 m diameter parachutes 610 km downrange.
AKA: Nova GD-S. Status: Study 1963. Thrust: 69,047.00 kN (15,522,383 lbf). Specific impulse: 263 s. Specific impulse sea level: 238 s. Burn time: 116 s. Height: 60.40 m (198.10 ft). Diameter: 8.30 m (27.20 ft).”

Or better yet, a really big hydrogen pressure fed booster. This would put them far ahead of everyone else if Space Solar Power is agreed upon as the solution to Climate Change and multi-national multi-trillion dollar funding is forthcoming.

“The combination of real-time satellite imagery and sophisticated analytics can illuminate many types of risks to our global food systems, helping us adapt agricultural practices, adjust global supply chains, and mitigate risks to poor and vulnerable communities.”

The only thing that is going to mitigate the coming catastrophe is to simply stop pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Period. And the only way to completely power civilization without fossil or nuclear is to beam the energy down from space. Building renewables on Earth will never catch up with demand. Industrializing the Moon with a fleet of reusable hydrogen-oxygen Super Heavy Lift Vehicles can, by the end of the century, allow Space Solar Power to replace all power plants on Earth. This is the big step for the human race, a multi-trillion dollar international project that will expand humans into the solar system and lower the risk of extinction level events ending our species.

Why does this continue on and on endlessly when it is clear it is not the place to go?
Moon first as the main base from which to launch all space projects and missions. Spaceships can then explore the possible oceans of the icy bodies in the outer system. Never Mars.

Humans must have one gravity to thrive and such an environment for any sizeable population can likely only be provided efficiently by spheres several miles in diameter.
Gerard K. O’Neill’s people figured this out back in the 70’s.

“Will some nations build their own breakout stations?”

I don’t see why China built their station unless it was for testing closed loop life support systems, with those systems being exposed to radiation. Future “true” Spaceships will have a massive cosmic ray water shield that will also provide a medium for such life support systems. Most of the shield will be exposed and making such systems work with biological elements like algae is a critical technology. Human Space Flight Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit missions to icy bodies like Ceres and the moons of the gas and ice giants will take years and closed loop life support will be necessary.

It is thin justification since developing life support systems can mostly be done on Earth but testing them in space, along with space suits and various other technologies, is probably what the Chinese are doing. As for future space stations, LEO stations have not yielded anything of real value in a half a century. We know pretty much all we need to know about what radiation and microgravity does to the human body and it is all bad. I strongly doubt any more stations in LEO will be built. They are a tremendous waste of money compared to actually going out there, Beyond Earth Orbit. To go BEO for long duration missions will require massive shielding and Tether Generated Artificial Gravity…and some form of nuclear propulsion, but NOT nuclear thermal. Supplying air, water, and food, for years at a time is also a requirement.

No big hydrogen engines in the 1.5 to 2 million pound thrust range are being built to support such missions, and no plans for how to effect such shielding and artificial gravity are in the works to my knowledge. This why NewSpace is failing and exposes it as just a satellite get rich scheme.

What a freak show….comments being marked as spam is as low as it gets.

“-we have to do it with the funding and support there is which includes commercial interests and markets.”

If that is true then we will never “do it.”

Space Solar Power as the solution to Climate Change is the great hope for the future. Momentum is building.
The “commercial interest” and “markets” path goes absolutely nowhere.

This, I believe, is the difference between “free market satellite enthusiasts” and true space advocates.

The reality you have to deal with my friend is Saturn V and landing on the Moon.

Satellite profits are not about space and vice versa. Those that can only parrot “economics is all that matters” are the worst thing that has ever happened to space exploration. They are not advocates for space, they are working directly against it while telling themselves they are the only game in town. They have made a poker game out of what is now a life and death matter for millions.

Space Solar Power is the only real path to averting a Climate Catastrophe and the super-narcissist super-influencer who satellite entrepreneur advocates look to like some kind of messiah called it “the stupidest idea ever.” Those that pursue the anti-space NewSpace scam are absolutely making the world a much worse place. And truly don’t give a damn.

The odds are that an individual given vast power by way of a megafortune will be corrupted by it. They have no checks or balances, only sycophants, and the temptation to satisfy their lowest impulses and indulge in their wildest fantasies is just too great. They lose any sense of responsibility to humankind, if they had much to begin with.

This is why many worship celebrities and wealth. Certain personality types crave this kind of gratification to the point where they are intensely attracted to those that have what they want. The cult of personality.

It would be far better for our species to tax billionaires out of existence instead of gambling on the unique expressions of their often diseased personalities benefiting humankind instead of destroying it.

They hate on Shelby because they consider anything having to do with SLS as taking money away from their favorite rocket company. They hated on many things they considered a threat to that company over the last decade. They hated Super Heavy Lift Vehicles, they hated the Moon because it was not Mars, they hated hydrogen, they hated wet workshops, they hated Space Solar Power, they hated any talk of radiation being a showstopper. They hated and wrote endless comments criticizing or denigrating those concepts or people not in agreement with their belief system. They hated and still hate anything not SpaceX. The company is the symbol of their ideology. It is not really about space.

I am not a big fan of the “public private partnership” scam. It is just privatization by another name.

“PPPs divert money from the pockets of people and resources that should be used for the common good into the hands of very powerful corporations and wealthy individuals.
Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-prize winning economist, has a recent take on this:
The fundamental, flawed premise of these initiatives is that the government is inevitably inefficient, so giving control of these assets to the private sector represents an opportunity for arbitrage: Both the private and public sectors can be better off.

Experience around the world shows otherwise. There are several reasons for the disappointing results: For example, the private sector faces much higher costs of capital, and infrastructure projects are long-term investments, where differences in the cost of capital matter a lot. This puts the private sector at a marked disadvantage.

Moreover, it turns out that in many areas, the public sector is remarkably efficient and innovative—more than it is given credit for—and the private sector is less efficient than is commonly recognized. It is rife with what economists refer to as “agency problems,” where conflicts of interests and misguided incentives lead to outcomes that are far from socially desirable—as we saw in the financial crisis (of 2008).”

Nothing is “legit” in free market ideology except profit. That is the only measure of success. Truth does not matter, communities, societies, and humans in general have no meaning except in regards to the revenue they generate for the individual. You have to understand what they are really about. Everything they say is not about what they say…it is about profit. “Truth” is an inside joke to them. Democracy is their enemy and originated in opposition to Oligarchs in Athens 500 years before Christ. Democracies tax and regulate the rich which makes corrupting and castrating democratic systems and using them the big win. They are always worried about losing control of politicians or failing to manipulate the masses with propaganda so they would rather burn a functioning democracy to the ground and replace it with Oligarchy. Which is exactly what is happening. They scream outrage at “jobs programs” because they know they are not in control and cannot make a killing off such constructs because they are first taxed to fund them. They consider taxes to be theft, even though they use the healthy educated workers transported to jobsites by way of taxes to make their fortunes. They are predators that prey on their own species because they do not recognize anything except individual wealth. There are no humans beings, just things that can be used to make a profit.

27 engines was always bad design. But bad designs plod along for years sometimes before they are finally dumped. Sooner is better.

I suspect they figured this out even as they struggled to lash it together and did not pursue propellent cross-feed or human-rating for this reason among others.

Boeing and Airbus are the two largest manufacturers of airliners on planet Earth. Their aircraft are operated by many countries.

If Space Solar Power were to become the agreed upon solution to Climate Change, by powering civilization from space, we could expect “spaceliners” built by a couple companies to dominate production. They would likely be similar in configuration, as all airliners being built now seem to be.

I would guess they will be all hydrogen-oxygen, since Super Heavy Lift Rockets burning millions of tons of propellants in the upper atmosphere every year will need to be as clean as possible. I would also guess they will be VTVL two stage vehicles lofting various third stage payloads and returning directly to their launch sites to be restacked on-site. The first stage would need to do a more straight up profile, which would waste propellent, but with an ever increasing number of flights, landing on ships will no longer be practical. The second stage will do one orbit and return.
We have almost come to the point where we can do this now. But what is really missing right now is a hydrogen engine in the 1.5 to 2 million pound thrust range. 

“And an inflatable heat shield was tested-“

“-a helicopter briefly captured a stage during descent.”

This heli-capture and inflatable heat shield in combination looks like the best way to reuse single large engines or clustered engine modules. The largest U.S. heavy lift helicopter, the CH-53K, could probably manage to capture all four engines on the SLS as a module. Even if the first and second stages are VTVL a third stage Lunar booster engine could separate from it’s tankage, do a free return around the Moon to an Earth reentry and recovery. Seems like a lot of trouble but the return would be “free.” This also makes that third stage more attractive as a wet workshop as without the mass of the engine it would be easier to slow down, after interception by a robot lander, and insert into Lunar orbit. This then, is the recipe for building a cislunar infrastructure: A VTVL reusable Super Heavy Lift Vehicle whose first and second stage land back and a third stage that also sends it’s engine back to be reused while it’s tankage is captured in the vicinity of the Moon to be inserted into Lunar orbit as a wet workshop.

“-a free-flying space station set for launch in 2028-“

Airbus space station huh? What do they mean by “free-flying”? It is not going to be free. In fact, LEO space stations have had their day. The ISS is living on borrowed time. Who is going to pay the billions necessary to keep a new one operating?

“Planet will further develop its offerings to enable customers to quantify carbon stocks globally, monitor forest changes and mitigate climate risks.”

The only path that will “mitigate climate risks” is Space Solar Power. How much of that is Planet Labs going to be doing?

The sentence contains “trying.” If you read about the Shuttle you will find out everything about the system was either built on the cheap, such as the Orbiter’s aluminum construction, or meant to be cheap by eliminating something “expensive.” It was the air force cross-range and cargo bay, and political requirements courtesy of Utah that jacked the price up. Side-mounting the Orbiter, for instance, was all about bringing the engines back with the Orbiter instead of some other more expensive method of bringing them back separately. Likewise, the boosters were simply to avoid the expense of a giant fly-back horizontally landed first stage. The horizontal landing winged Orbiter was a mistake. The twin segmented SRB’s were a mistake, The giant cargo bay was a mistake. Mixing cargo and crew was a mistake. All of those features meant to be “cheap” actually added expense in some other way. But launching once a week was going to make up for all those shortcuts. It was in fact impossible to quickly and cheaply turn around the system and the public was being conned.

While extremely powerful monolithic solid rockets had been tested, still the most powerful rockets ever fired, the smaller diameter rail transported SRB segments limited the power of the boosters and this ruled out any kind of escape system. Most of the power of this Saturn V class system was wasted lifting the Orbiter into orbit for a few weeks at most so it could come right back down. Most of the payload was the Orbiter with a too-large cargo bay of dubious utility.

The SRB’s killed a crew that very likely would have survived with any kind of abort system. Some of the Challenger crew might have been able to simply bail out but they did not even have parachutes. I have an emergency parachute about the size of a ladies handbag I use paragliding. The Side-mounting killed a crew due to damage that could have possibly been avoided in the initial design with either a more robust structure or by stacking with the Orbiter on top and the engines on the bottom being recovered separately. Stacking a capsule, or at least a much tougher Orbiter on top and an abort system would have most likely kept the Shuttle in service to this day with no loss of crews.

The concept of only expending a single large tank was excellent but the execution was fatal for two crews and the program due to both the requirement to build cheap and operate cheap. There is no cheap. Interestingly, the SLS is designed much like what would have made the Shuttle very successful. By using liquid boosters instead of solid, the expense of disassembling and rail transport would have been avoided, and by using a reusable escape tower and capsule Challenger and the Columbia disasters never would have happened. Most important of all, large cargo missions would have not also carried crew. The technology was available to fly the original Shuttle and Orbiter un-crewed and automatically deploy payloads. The only crewed flights would probably have been with the spacelab in the cargo bay. But this cargo operation would almost certainly have been more expensive than an expendable rocket carrying the same payload.

Unfortunately, the SLS is not what the Shuttle could have been since almost of all of it, except for some components of Orion, are expended. Future iterations could change that with ocean recovered hydrogen boosters instead of solids and the core engines heli-captured.

NASA did not design that hatch or much hardware at all. It simply directed companies to offer hardware concepts to meet their requirements- and then approved what their experts considered the best design. They paid the aerospace corporations involved very well because it was very challenging work of course. “Punishing” NASA by cutting funding was maybe necessary politically but was the death knell for Human Space Flight Beyond Earth Orbit. As I have been describing, aerospace corporations are for-profit and have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders. If the boards of directors do not provide checks to shareholders they do not keep their jobs. That is my understanding of how it works anyway, correct me if I am wrong. NASA oversight, that is, making sure the Spaceships did not kill the astronauts, put profits, and shareholder checks, and executive positions, at risk. And that ended the push into space before we ever even left orbit for the first time. There was much easier DOD money to go after. That is my thesis.

It’s important, I think, to bear in mind that opinions on exactly what NASA is, beyond their stated mission statement, vary widely. Those with a certain world view want it done away with and it all handed over to certain entrepreneurs. Others, like me, want it to be an insurance policy for humankind.

My point was exactly that the Shuttle was the NASA-operated state subsidized launch vehicle meant to be a boon to the satellite industry. And yes, ONLY Super Heavy Launch Vehicle SHLV’s are going to generate any progress at all in Human Space Flight.

“-it was far from obvious that it would have been possible to keep using it to go to the Moon.”

I think Apollo/Saturn died with the Apollo 1 fire personally. The Aerospace industry as a whole looked at it as nowhere near as profitable as jet fighters, nuclear submarines, ICBM’s, and all the paraphernalia associated with the Cold War.

My point is that the Shuttle promised to launch satellites on the cheap and was a con from start to finish. The Saturn V, in it’s various iterations, either as a stage-and-a-half to orbit by dropping 4 of it’s 5 engines, or by sending up a massive number of satellites at once, could actually have done what the Shuttle promised for the same price. It could have been gradually turned into a reusable vehicle step by step, and still be available for a return to lunar operations. As LBJ remarked with words to the effect that we “pissed away” an amazing capability. We have not learned this lesson. Privatizing space flight is going down a slippery slope to nowhere. The original idea of a non-profit or not-for-profit government Super Heavy Launch Vehicle being used commercially to pay for space exploration was always the best path.

To return to that state launch vehicle model we need a new Super Heavy Launch Vehicle much like the Saturn V using first stage hydrogen oxygen engines like the M-1. And really big, like that Post Saturn Vehicle concept, is the way to go. The flexible path has set humankind back decades.

Peer reviewed by “The New Space Journal” sounds wonderful.
It all sounds wonderful, but many, like myself and the Nobel prize winner I cited, are skeptical.

“I could take up the entire space here with a flood of examples of this fraud. For now, just one. Health care: Medicare is one of the most efficient programs in the nation’s history, operating at something like 2-3% administrative costs—compared to the private sector insurance industry which, depending on what study you look at, rings in at between 15-25 percent administrative costs. Because, obviously, you have CEOs and high-ranking executives making tens of millions of dollars in the private sector versus your basic Medicare government high-level leaders who are making, comparatively, a quite modest low six-figure income of roughly $178,000 on average.”

Enhancing extractive corporate power. The private sector’s central goal is to maximize profit, not deliver necessary services. It has proven impossible to ensure that private providers’ incentives match public interest in these arrangements. Too often, contracted companies generate more income by exploiting workers, cutting corners on quality, charging high prices to users, and/or excluding certain groups from service—not by increasing efficiency.

“Weakening public power and democracy. Particularly with something as fundamental as infrastructure (broadly defined, as President Biden has done), democratic input and accountability are essential. Infrastructure proposals represent a unique opportunity to invest in and empower public institutions while building a more cohesive and responsive government and economy. Privatization does just the opposite: It dilutes the role and responsibilities of government in an often-deliberate attempt to diminish the capacity of public institutions and weaken already-low public trust. And it does this without any proven public benefit—and with a long history of harms that result from subjecting people to the whims of profit-driven executives.”

Dismantling public organizations working as essentially non-profits for We the people with private companies looking for, above all else, profit. This is wildly exaggerated as the answer to all problems by “peer reviewed” think tanks funded by those very same private companies. Who would have thought?

Aerospace is about making a profit for shareholders. This is why NewSpace is the death knell of space exploration. Zero profit in sending humans to the Moon or any kind of science missions. Satellites are the only revenue generators and we see that in the size of engines being built. The 1.8 million pound thrust F-1A and the follow-on M-1 hydrogen engines were in the minimum thrust range for Super Heavy Lift Vehicles supporting Human Space Flight. The half a million pound thrust methane rocket engines are actually priced and sized for satellite launch. Mounting so many on the two publicized SHLV’s in development was not the best path but cheaper.

The great hope is Space Solar Power by way of lunar resources which would use human workers in factories on the Moon and involve trillions of dollars in international investment.

It is not so much the sun, which is pretty bad because of solar events, but cosmic radiation found anywhere in the solar system, that rules out these long duration missions without massive shielding. “Dosing and Debilitation” is the term that denotes the single greatest challenge to astronauts on interplanetary missions. The massive shielding and spinning that shielded crew compartment to provide artificial gravity entails thousands of tons for even a pair of astronauts. It is that or permanently damage their bodies and greatly increase their risk of cancer in an unshielded zero G craft. Completely unacceptable.

IMO any Human Space Flight Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit comes in three parts. The first is cosmic radiation with the only solution being hundreds of tons of plastic or water or probably a combination. No way around that. The second part is Tether Generated Artificial Gravity with an equal mass on the end of the shielded crew compartment. The third part is nuclear propulsion but NOT nuclear thermal which is not that much higher Isp powerful than chemicals. Nuclear Electric is the only politically acceptable propulsion system.

There is new technology like Thermo-photo voltaic cells and improved X3 Hall thrusters that could push several thousand tons of spinning Spaceship to the outer system. I would suggest Ceres as the first destination after the “shakedown” cruise around the Earth-Moon system you mentioned. The astronauts come home without any permanent damage from dosing or debilitation or even much added to their career dose.

This idea of sending people in zero-G unshielded spacecraft beyond Earth for long duration missions is a fantasy kept alive in the interest of obtaining funding. I cannot see any such mission as ever happening because nobody will sign off on it simply because of what it will certainly do to the astronauts bodies.

These notional missions are impossible without very large nuclear propelled Spaceships. Ceres is the best first destination when we get them. Then Callisto. And if humans are going to icy bodies then they need to bring submarines. Mars has too much gravity and no oceans and is not on the list of places to go anymore than Venus is.

I suspect some bad stuff went on with the private ISS mission that is being kept quiet. A few hints of it and likely one day it will be remembered as a low point in the history of space.

I am not a big fan of the “public private partnership” scam. It is just privatization by another name.

“PPPs divert money from the pockets of people and resources that should be used for the common good into the hands of very powerful corporations and wealthy individuals.
Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-prize winning economist, has a recent take on this:
The fundamental, flawed premise of these initiatives is that the government is inevitably inefficient, so giving control of these assets to the private sector represents an opportunity for arbitrage: Both the private and public sectors can be better off.

Experience around the world shows otherwise. There are several reasons for the disappointing results: For example, the private sector faces much higher costs of capital, and infrastructure projects are long-term investments, where differences in the cost of capital matter a lot. This puts the private sector at a marked disadvantage.

Moreover, it turns out that in many areas, the public sector is remarkably efficient and innovative—more than it is given credit for—and the private sector is less efficient than is commonly recognized. It is rife with what economists refer to as “agency problems,” where conflicts of interests and misguided incentives lead to outcomes that are far from socially desirable—as we saw in the financial crisis (of 2008).”

I am fascinated with small-singularity-propelled Starships, or, “Black Hole Starships.”

The Crane and Westmoreland paper has a connection to Space Solar Power. Only the immense power of a Space Solar Power network could make available the energies necessary to create small black hole engines for use in this concept.

The cancellation of the Saturn V was certainly one of the most egregiously political and idiotic actions ever taken. They wanted something that would “make space pay for itself”, the Space Shuttle, and swallowed that whole scam hook line and sinker. The Reagan Revolution was as responsible for the Challenger and Columbia disasters as anything else.

The logical path, a progression from expendable to reusable Super Heavy Lift Vehicle stages and hardware, did not happen with the Saturn V, and the Shuttle Concept, promising airline-like operations once a week, was soon revealed to be a monumental con.

The M-1 rocket engine, which Dwayne did a wonderful article on last week, was really the most grievous lost opportunity. As early studies on space indicated, the first step was to recover the engines which the Space Shuttle did, while expending a single tank. And did this in the very worst way it could possibly be done. Amazing. Phil Bono had been proposing Vertical Take-off Vertical Landing (VTVL) concepts with some tanks being parachuted into the ocean for recovery since the early sixties.

The need was for a much larger vehicle than the Saturn V that started by returning the engines. Such a vehicle could have launched a much larger 500 ton hypergolic lunar lander (instead of 17 tons) into parking orbit and then launched the other half of the mission hardware to dock with it and take it to the Moon.

And of course that is the exact opposite of what is being described in the article.

The Post Saturn Vehicle depiction in the M-1 article is, as I commented, what should have been and is heartbreaking to any true space enthusiast. The Space Shuttle was originally going to be the “national launch vehicle” that charged for sending all the commercial space payloads up as a kind of taxpayer subsidized non-profit. And this would pay for space exploration. Just one of a long list of mistakes was sending crew up with cargo. The Post Saturn monster rocket would have lifted 500 tons of anything anyone could possibly want. And this program would have started by recovering the first stage engines, then the second stage engines, and at some point then recovering the stages with the engines.

Instead we had the “do more with less” philosophy that has wrecked organizations and been putting people out of work since the free market maniacs hijacked the economy in the 80’s.

Like a hobbyist blowing stuff up and the newest hobby rocket has blown up so many times I lost count. It is clear that the PR about a second home for humankind is just pandering to the gullible left and now the playing of both sides against the middle pandering to the gullible right. All great fun that has burned 200 billion dollars so far. Any narcissist tech billionaire would say this attempt at taking over the internet with a megamonstrosity smallsat constellation, if successful, would make the owner the king of the world. Transparent.

All of it obscenely wasteful and setting humankind back year after year from any real progress. So obvious that billionaires need to be taxed out of existence as an existential threat.

The “genius” of it is simple grifter logic. Instead of fleets of bizjets and super-yachts and ranches and mansions and etc., etc., just turn a hobby into a hole to pour a taxpayer subsidized fortune into. So it seems great. But it is not. Statements like Space Solar Power being, “the stupidest idea ever” and “the Covid panic is dumb” have done inestimable harm. The future of humankind depending on the whimsy and weird eccentricities of super-rich individuals is incredibly dangerous.

Rocket Lab is intent on Heli-capturing their stage for reuse and it seems this could work for the SLS core engines also, while expending the tankage. Each RS-25 has a dry weight of 7004 pounds adding up to 28,016 pounds. The CH-53K can sling load 35,000 pounds. This leaves 6984 pounds for structure, reentry hardware, and parachute.

The Space Shuttle was a good concept, better than the Falcon 9 in that it did not expend any engines and of course, if the Orbiter mass is counted, lifted more than the Falcon Heavy. Expending only the core tank of the SLS should be the goal in future iterations, and also launching several times per year minimum.

We will always make plastics from oil so there will always be oil production…it is burning it that makes greenhouse gases and particles that cause health problems. The fossil fuel industry knows there will always be a market for their product but they want to continue to make huge profits by burning it. There are ways now to make “green” hydrogen from oil well byproducts.


This is not what could have been, it is what should have been.

A picture is worth a thousand words and looking at the post-Saturn depiction of a vehicle with 18 of these engines and 27 million pounds of thrust lifting 500 ton payloads…it is heartbreaking to any true space enthusiast.

Why did we lose the stars?

My view is that this was difficult to make money doing. Far higher profit margins cranking out jet fighters and ICBM’s. And nobody cared if they did not work that well. Not just hundreds, but several thousand aircrew were killed in accidents in the 5o’s, 60’s, and 70’s in very difficult to fly and failure-prone aircraft. Spaceships have to work and this is hard money. So it was greed in my estimation.

This continues with a new cold war, in Earth orbit, with a brand new branch, with about the same budget as NASA, pushing for endless military satellites. And endless profits. It is the same with missile defense. The hangover from Ronnie’s Stars Wars that is easy money forever for something sitting in a silo that might work half the time but probably not. All that treasure going into defense shareholder pockets to counter adversaries who spend a fraction of what we do but still seem to be so terrifying. Table scraps for expanding humankind into the solar system. Almost nothing for Space Solar Power to address climate change, which, by the way, the DOD considers an existential threat.

We fought the cold war race-to-the-Moon-battle using our adversaries own top-down command economy method combined with our mixed economy with it’s super-productive capitalist component. The profit motive functioned well in an intricate balance with infrastructure and social programs supported by high taxes on the top earners. Now that is all gone.

Close to what I have been thinking about! A big outer first stage ring of engines and smaller inner second stage ring and a single center third stage engine on a Chrysler SERV type vehicle. The super heavy has 33 engines and 17 million pounds of thrust using raptors so a larger version of the SERV, using a 2 million pound thrust range hydrogen engine is interesting to think about. With an outer ring of 8 and an inner ring of 4 smaller approximately half a million pound thrust engines and a last single central engine that would all add up to around 19 or 20 million pounds of thrust.

The concept being that the structure containing propellants is a large part of the actual payload so only the engines are returned for reuse, this would make for a huge wet workshop.

Climate Change is driving a big push for green hydrogen and ammonia to replace fossil fuels and Space Solar power is the ultimate solution. Studies have shown that building the Space Solar components in factories on the Moon, while a much larger initial investment and more time consuming, end up costing far less than launching directly from Earth. These giant wet workshop crew compartments would be the critical piece of hardware in creating a cislunar infrastructure.

We could have a sit-down with Bezos. As soon as he gets his problems with unions figured out. His workers started to unionize after he thanked them for making his billionaut suborbital tourist ride possible.

All these billions being spent on a satellite war is really sad and depressing. Space Force has about the same budget as NASA now.

I can only imagine if this vast mountain of money going into orbit for defense and internet mega-constellations was instead focused on Space Solar Power. With all the major industrial powers involved, trillions of dollars would be directed at powering civilization carbon free by beaming down power from space. As a consequence humankind would expand into the solar system. The reasons we are not doing this are crystal clear: greed and political corruption.

“Elon Musk’s company will shift its attention back to Florida for a Falcon Heavy launch on Thursday. The giant rocket will carry a pair of satellites into orbit for the U.S. Space Force.”

They should have stuck with the Delta IV heavy.
Three engines is always better than twenty-seven and hydrogen is what all launch vehicles will likely be burning in the near future anyway.

If you have to shoot down a missile it is all over anyway. The idea of a “limited” nuclear war is completely insane. This makes the idea of fighting any kind of “satellite war” extremely dangerous. The first move by any peer adversary will be to destroy everything in orbit. Then launch everything they have. Space Force was Trumps way of giving the middle finger to all the suckers and losers in the military. He created a branch of the military that does not fight and makes billions of dollars for defense contractors for no purpose at all. A money machine sending endless satellites into orbit that does nothing but make a nuclear war more likely. He must smile every time he thinks about it.

Chrysler SERV has always stuck in my head. It would be perfect as a wet workshop because by having a double hull, with hydrogen in one and oxygen in the other, when empty the outer envelope could then be filled with water for radiation shielding.

The problem was that SERV probably would not have carried much payload if the huge circular aerospike engine had even been practical. It not only carried this and the associated turbopumps into orbit but also a large heat shield and quite a few jet engines for a vertical hover landing. But…an outer ring of first stage engines instead of the aerospike could have separated and landed as well as an inner second stage ring leaving a single final third stage engine in the center.

Sent to the Moon it could have separated from it’s central engine module (which would do a free return back to Earth and reenter) and what was left- the huge empty double envelope stage and payload, would be intercepted and inserted into lunar orbit. I think this might have worked as the ultimate wet workshop. And still might.

The Shuttle teaches so many lessons, with almost all of them being ignored. SRB’s fascinate me and if you look at one of the original Shuttle designs you see the Aerojet monolithic design, based on submarine hull construction. This single booster would have been much more powerful than the segmented twins and would have been taken by ship to the factory in the everglades to be reloaded and then by ship to the launch site- all in once piece. A huge expense with segmented SRB’s was breaking them down and rail transporting them to Utah and then all the way back and reassembling. Rail transport size restrictions were the main factor in limiting their power.

This single monolithic SRB was mounted like the ET was on the belly of the Orbiter and the two LH2/LOX tanks mounted over the wings on either side of the cargo bay. Challenger would not have been lost with this design and it could lift more so in some alternate universe the Orbiter may have had some kind of escape system with perhaps the nose being separated from the rest of the vehicle with a tower. In fact, an un-crewed extension of the nose could have been fitted instead of this crew section for cargo missions and the Shuttle landed by remote control. And it might still be flying today. They just would not spend the money.

Adrianos is a new company working on a new formula that is supposedly more powerful and about 70 percent less polluting than the mixes used now. If they can be made environmentally acceptable and reusable like the Shuttle then they may be around for a long time.

A variant of the Saturn V was proposed using I believe the same monolithic booster but two of them with extensions carrying propellants and cross-feeding the first stage engines. Something SpaceX tried and failed to adopt. Future iterations of the SLS might use that idea or just use vertical landing liquid boosters that feed the core for the first part of the launch.

The comparison with the Hughes Spruce Goose and the two company founders is becoming a thing. It would probably be best if Musk were to retire to the top floor of some hotel where he could watch his SNL episode over and over. Howard liked to watch Ice Station Zebra and I happened to watch that movie the other night. Still great. Rock Hudson was the best nuclear sub commander ever and Patrick McGoohan the best spy. The movie started with a satellite by the way.

“The world is entering a launch vehicle bubble. And all bubbles pop, eventually. When they do, business failures and consolidations are the order of the day.”

Looking at engines like the Raptor and BE-4 and comparing them to the RS-25, what we see is a lack of imagination and support for Human Space Flight that has dragged space exploration down for half a century. The prototype and guide, the original construct that made the space age a reality, last flew a half a century ago this year. The Saturn V used five 1.5 million pound thrust engines in it’s first stage.

Supercomputers have made combustion instability far less of an obstacle though it is often whined about by debbie-downers. Two decades after Saturn V the Russian RD-170 and subsequent RD-180 engines showed that a single turbopump or set of turbopumps could provide propellants for multiple thrust chambers. And the U.S. Integrated Power Head Demonstrator in the 90’s took the next step with a hydrogen Full-Flow-Staged-Combustion-Cycle.

The launch vehicle grand consolidation will be made when Space Solar Power is agreed upon by the major powers to be the solution to Climate Change. The need will then be for a hydrogen oxygen reusable VTVL Super Heavy Lift Vehicle. This new class of vehicles will all likely use FFSCC engines in a configuration resembling the Saturn V. The first stage with turbopump sets driving two combustion chambers each and a single variable thrust center engine with it’s own set. The second stage will likely have four small steering engines also used for landing and a main central engine.

(Banned for this) I had to stop reading the comments after the first two. Over the top sinophobia. When I was in the military (I was not a general) I remember just before 911 there was a huge push to make China the new cold war adversary. We were treated to many visits by representatives from various defense companies explaining this new great satan. That this forum about space is dominated by far right conspiracy fanatics is sad. The climate change deniers, and now the Covid conspiracy idiocy….just sad. The characteristics of fascism are well known and all here. Malice, promoting of violence (that something must be done!), the lies and disinformation and conspiracy theories.

The Zimmermans, the Cowings, and all the other shills pandering to a base of Ayn-Rand-in-space libertarian nutjobs, many also Trumpists, has been the worst thing that has ever happened to space exploration. Worse than both shuttle disasters. This tribe of toxic creeps has done inestimable damage. Momentum is building and the future of space is about space solar power and that one of the guiding lights of these far right fake space enthusiasts called that, “the stupidest idea ever.” That it will be an international effort makes the toxic fascist element angry.

Makes sense that CNSA is putting the space telescope close to the space station and can even dock with it.

I am super interested in Callisto as the third human mission destination after the Moon and Ceres. It is outside the main radiation belts. The Moon is the first step, from which nuclear missions to the outer solar system can be launched.

As much as I would like to know more about the icy moons of the gas and ice giants I would rather see all resources focused on the Moon first. Space Solar Power by way of lunar resources as the solution to climate change will ultimately direct trillions of dollars toward Human Space Flight.

The beginning of thousands of robot landers that will become larger and larger as they prospect for ice and lava tubes and other resources in preparation for massive industrialization of the Moon. Underground arc furnaces and foundries, thorium breeder reactors, and a steadily increasing population of workers doing tours. With hopefully no useless tourists allowed.

As international momentum for Space Solar Power as the solution to Climate Change builds, the Moon becomes the place to build the satellites. Endless satellite components, and not for streaming data, for beaming down the energy to power a carbon-free civilization.
The Moon people are coming with trillion-dollar investments pushing them farther than we have ever gone before.

“The privatization of human spaceflight is set to accelerate this year with an increase in the number of commercial launches to the International Space Station (ISS) and the long-delayed start of suborbital space tourism flights by Virgin Galactic.”

An extremely bad sign for space exploration. Fake astronaut wings for the rich. Taking seats from those who earned the right to sit in them.
One step away from zero G strip clubs. Sad.

Any way you look at it this is being subsidized by the taxpayer and it’s absolutely wrong in so many ways.

“Vigoride 5 is carrying Caltech’s Space Solar Power Demonstrator (SSPD) as a hosted payload that will operate for several months.”

These many experiments and demonstrators that have gone up and are going up are all proving Space Solar Power technology is practical and is the solution to climate change. Once the governments of the world agree to this solution it will be like nothing ever seen before. The Apollo program times a hundred with a trillion dollar initial investment.

The hydrogen oxygen two-stage reusable “monster” lift vehicle will come into it’s own with America, Europe, China, and other countries building, or licensing and building, their own versions.

2023 could be the year that Space Solar Power becomes the focus of of the majority of the governments on planet Earth. All pouring a tsunami of funding into the companies building the rockets and infrastructure capable of collectively throwing hundreds of tons a day, and eventually thousands of tons a day, into space.

“SpaceX in particular has made launch seem routine. Not only were all 61 of its launches successful last year, every booster landing attempt—something that still seemed experimental five years ago—was also a success.
However, 65 years after the launch of Sputnik, spaceflight is still not routine.”

The writing is on the wall and most of it, but not all of it, written by SpaceX. The future is clearly going to be full flow liquid hydrogen oxygen engines on two stage VTVL reusable Super Heavy Lift Vehicles. The sooner these rockets become standardized by all the major powers the better.

The great hope of the future is Space Solar Power, and momentum in that direction is building.

This is a carbon copy of the nuclear warfighting strategies to “win” a thermonuclear exchange. Except it is satellites. It was always kind of a joke talking about winning when MAD was going to be the end of the world and everyone knew it. MAD was doctrine. This kind of satellite war is also a joke. It makes Earth orbit a piggybank of free defense money.

It is a replay of the cold war with satellites instead of nukes.

 25 days ago

“Had it been built, the M-1 would have been a monster, the most powerful rocket engine ever developed. It would have fueled the upper stages and possibly even the first stage of rockets to follow the Saturn V.”

The future is the full-flow hydrogen oxygen rocket engine, in this thrust range, powering VTVL reusable two-stage rockets like the Starship. All the major players will be building their own or licensed versions of these “Monster” Launch Vehicles.

Two hundred launches a year of Super Heavy Lift Vehicles I would guess averages about ten tons per payload for a couple thousand tons total. Two hundred launches a year of SHLV’s with one hundred tons per payload would loft twenty thousand tons.

An international Space Solar Power effort launching an order of magnitude more rockets, all SHLV’s, could be lofting two hundred thousand tons per year within a decade, by 2035.That 200K per year could easily be doubled every decade, to 400K from 2045 to 2055, and then to 800K from 2055 to 2065.

Those thirty years (the duration of the Shuttle program) would see 14 million tons launched from Earth.

Last flight of the Delta IV in 2022. The only all hydrogen launch vehicle.

The writing is on the wall with some of it but certainly not all of it written by SpaceX. Future launch vehicles will, IMO, be “Monster Lift Vehicles”, using all hydrogen full flow engines and with two stages landing back to the launch site. Each nation that can will build the largest version with the largest engines they can of a reusable launch vehicle.

It is my most ardent hope these MLV’s will be instrumental in establishing Space Solar Power as the solution to Climate Change. Perhaps dozens of these MLV’s will at some point be launching every day.

The future of space flight is Monster Lift two stage reusable hydrogen/oxygen VTVL vehicles. Rotating detonation engines may be soon or never but for now the full-flow cycle is the best that can be had. A MLV can launch straight up and the first stage come straight back down by sacrificing payload. The second stage goes around once and then also lands where it launched from. Spaceports can be located almost anywhere considered a safe distance from population centers and sacrifice some payload due to location. Both stages of a reusable MLV can land near the launch tower and that structure used to restack. Though SpaceX is doing some of this they are doing other things that do not seem to me very well thought out. Like the twin engine jetliner, I predict most developed nations eventually operating their own state sponsored versions of the largest rocket and rocket engines their industrial base is capable of building. Happy New Year and I hope to post many creative and enlightening comments for all of you.

“If commercial human spaceflight takes off, which we think it will the same way commercial aviation did, at some point the industry will have to learn its lessons on its own,” Melroy said at the town hall.

Melroy has also expressed support for extending the lifetime of the International Space Station. Which is not a good recommendation since it should have been deorbited in 2016.

There is nothing that can possibly make “commercial human spaceflight” worth the millions spent on looking out a window while floating in a radiation bath and vomiting. The novelty will soon wear off and the fake astronaut wings will become objects of derision. Why the number 2 at NASA would say this is a mystery and very disappointing. The Moon is the place to go and Bridenstine made that clear. He never should have left.

The escape tower abort system on the SLS is the same concept used on Mercury and Apollo and like many ideas developed in the 60’s is almost impossible to improve upon.

The hypergolic designs used in the Starliner and especially the Dragon are no good. The shiny will never carry a human without an escape system and reading comments saying it’s fine and is somehow it’s own escape system is over the top gullibility and sycophancy.

The first solution is to stop this new cold war in space that was created to make hundreds of billions of dollars for the defense industry. The weaponization of Earth orbit goes hand in hand with the megaconstellation abomination. The Space Force now has essentially the same budget as NASA and was created specifically to add yet another service branch to suck up tax dollars and enrich shareholders. Like Ronnie Reagans gift of never-ending free money in the form of ballistic missile defense…that might work half the time against a half a dozen missiles, this satellite war in space is absolutely huge profits forever for doing nothing except going in circles. Any kind of orbital bombardment system going in circles overhead is a huge red flag that much of civilization is about to be incinerated. The recent low yield nuke system was bad enough and horrified anyone who knows anything about nuclear deterrence. Trumpism and Musk and greed are a nasty cocktail of corruption.

That we have known for decades our species is at risk of extinction due to impact threats and has done essentially nothing is proof to any alien observers that we are too stupid to survive. We have H-bombs and instead of defending our planet we threaten each other with Armageddon. There is a critical lesson to be learned from this but we still make plans for “limited nuclear conflict” with low yield warheads and weaponize Earth orbit. Do we really have any doubt what the Fermi Paradox great filter is? Fairly obvious.

Directional H-bombs can project a very large plasma cloud that will deflect piles of rubble just as efficiently as they do big rocks. It is Star Wars technology they could not make work for destroying Soviet missiles warheads but is perfect for repurposing in Nuclear Pulse Propulsion systems and asteroid and comet deflection. We should have a fleet of “Space Boomers” months away in deep space instead of wasting a trillion dollars modernizing our terrestrial systems which are the equivalent of holding cocked pistols up to each others heads. Those human-crewed Spaceships can also defend Earth from impact threats.

I want a fleet of human-crewed “space boomers” several months from Earth instead of launch on warning nukes and one mistake incinerating most of civilization in half an hour. They would of course also be on the lookout for any impact threats and deflect them with H-bombs. And also take guest scientists on research missions to icy bodies in the outer solar system, much like like our subs taking scientists under the polar ice. These true Spaceships would not cost much more than the immense amount of money spent on our ICBM’s, submarines, and bombers.

If we had sent up just one Saturn V mission per year for ten years, or two per year for five, with the second stage remaining attached as a wet workshop to the dry workshop third stage, the resulting station could have supported a hundred people instead of six. Instead of the thirty missions spread over ten years for the ISS. At approximately 140 feet long, these wet/dry workshops, attached end to end, would have made a station over a quarter mile long, or a 500 foot ring. Spun at 1 rotation per minute this ring would provide 8 percent of Earth gravity which would be enough to allow astronauts to far more easily go to the bathroom, eat food, and keep particles from floating around. With a central module for microgravity experiments.

The better option would have been to actually attach end to end and spin this 1400 foot stack at 2 RPM for 1G. A center connector/docking module would provide microgravity for experiments while the two end sections would eliminate debilitation. This would not stop dosing though and if provided that shielding the construct might as well be stationed in GEO, or a Lunar Cycler orbit, or best of all provided with nuclear propulsion as a Spaceship.

Constructing one S-IVB dry workshop, likely with a combination of plastic and water, to effect an approximately 1000 ton cosmic ray shield, with an equal mass approximately 1000 ton nuclear power section at the other end of a 6000 foot long tether system, would allow a nuclear electric propulsion system to take this assembled Spaceship on multi-year missions to the outer solar system. With the astronauts suffering very minimal dosing and debilitation and no permanent damage. A more powerful cargo iteration of the Saturn V could have lofted the components of such a true Spaceship with approximately the same number of missions and time required to assemble the ISS.

I would speculate the best modern solution would be a 100 ft plus diameter double hulled wet workshop resembling the Chrysler SERV that returns two “rings” of engines for reuse, counting these components, and not the main tank, as stages. The tank itself, designed to serve as a crew compartment when no longer “wet”, as the majority of the payload mass.

If we had sent up just one Saturn V mission per year for ten years, or two per year for five, with the second stage remaining attached as a wet workshop to the dry workshop third stage, the resulting station could have supported a hundred people instead of six. Instead of the thirty missions spread over ten years for the ISS. At approximately 140 feet long, these wet/dry workshops, attached end to end, would have made a station over a quarter mile long, or a 500 foot ring. Spun at 1 rotation per minute this ring would provide 8 percent of Earth gravity which would be enough to allow astronauts to far more easily go to the bathroom, eat food, and keep particles from floating around. With a central module for microgravity experiments.

The better option would have been to actually attach end to end and spin this 1400 foot stack at 2 RPM for 1G. A center connector/docking module would provide microgravity for experiments while the two end sections would eliminate debilitation. This would not stop dosing though and if provided that shielding the construct might as well be stationed in GEO, or a Lunar Cycler orbit, or best of all provided with nuclear propulsion as a Spaceship.

Constructing one S-IVB dry workshop, likely with a combination of plastic and water, to effect an approximately 1000 ton cosmic ray shield, with an equal mass approximately 1000 ton nuclear power section at the other end of a 6000 foot long tether system, would allow a nuclear electric propulsion system to take this assembled Spaceship on multi-year missions to the outer solar system. With the astronauts suffering very minimal dosing and debilitation and no permanent damage. A more powerful cargo iteration of the Saturn V could have lofted the components of such a true Spaceship with approximately the same number of missions and time required to assemble the ISS.

I would speculate the best modern solution would be a 100 ft plus diameter double hulled wet workshop resembling the Chrysler SERV that returns two “rings” of engines for reuse, counting these components, and not the main tank, as stages. The tank itself, designed to serve as a crew compartment when no longer “wet”, as the majority of the payload mass.

Don’t worry, NASA is NOT going to land on the Moon anytime soon. The number of tanker missions required to fuel up the shiny makes that obvious to anyone but gullible true believers. It would take a decade, at least, to get the shiny operational and able to transfer propellants. If ever. It has yet to attain orbit. In fact, considering all of the far less challenging projects that have failed, the SpaceX lander has little chance of ever happening. It is very different than the Falcon, which was essentially a redux of the 1966 Saturn lB.

What I foresee happening is semi-expendable robot landers processing lunar ice-derived water into propellants and transporting the water back up to frozen lunar orbit to be used as cosmic ray shielding in special stages; “Fat Workshops.” These will allow astronauts to stay on long duration missions without dosing and eventually, with tether systems, to spin these compartments around each other, and also suffer no debilitation. Eliminating dosing and debilitation is the only path that makes sense.

First the crew compartments and tether systems providing a Near Sea Level Radiation 1 Gravity (NSLR1G) environment and Lunar Space Stations. Then Lunar Cyclers and Spaceships. When habitats have been constructed robotically, probably in covered over craters if no lava tubes can be found, then significant numbers of people will go there for tours of duty, not just short bunny hop photo ops. A permanent presence, no visits. A big help would be splashing the ISS asap and using those resources for more capable iterations of the ISS and future SHLV’s.

End of the Space Age

I knew the half century anniversary of the Apollo 17 splashdown was coming but it was depressing, and I ignored it. However, it seems a good opportunity to summarize much of what I have been thinking about over the last decade or so, and also to finish with my concept art of a “true” Spaceship with a massive cosmic ray shield, tether generated artificial gravity, and Nuclear Pulse Propulsion. Space was interesting to me when I was a boy, just as it was for most young people in the 60’s, and this was mainly due to science fiction movies of course. I did receive a boxed paperback set of the Lensman series one Christmas as the 70’s began and so perhaps I did have more than the usual fascination instilled early on. I was not a sports fan and maybe should have become a sci-fi nerd but the influence of a friend and my family’s military tradition pointed me more at World War Two and I became a war nerd instead. That conflict and the following cold war did eventually point me at space in a peculiar way. My wife needed help with a class in situational ethics and asked me for suggestions and I told her nuclear weapons might be related and provide material for a paper. So, she sent me to the library to find books and I happened upon, “Project Orion, the true story of the atomic spaceship”, and I was hooked. Almost twenty years later I am still a space enthusiast and sketching spaceship concepts.

Sadly, space has not worked well as a hobby for me because of a certain “entrepreneur” and his gang of cyberthugs. It is lonely existing outside of Elonverse, with all those toxic creeps vigilant and on patrol at the gates to the spaceport. But I am not so discouraged that I do not continue to follow the one true prophet of space colonization, and I still have hopes of an O’Neillian future for humankind. Space Solar Power by way of lunar resources remains the ultimate solution to climate change and one fine day that may become apparent to the rest of the world.

Then….I will be vindicated!

S1C without lower section of thrust bells

Vertical Take-off Vertical Landing (VTVL) rockets were not invented by Elon Musk and were envisioned from the very start with the movie Frau im Mond depicting it in 1929, only a few years after Goddard tested the first liquid fuel rocket. I would speculate one thing that might have changed the entire course of the space age would have been NASA announcing the massive Saturn V first stage would be vertically landed back onto a ship at sea by remote control- and the Apollo capsule and escape tower would also be reused, “as soon as practical”. A V-2 rocket had been launched off the deck of an aircraft carrier in 1947 and rockets landing back vertically became a common theme on 1950’s television shows. Engineer Phil Bono began to submit concepts for VTVL in the early sixties and his dream was finally realized shortly after his death with the vertical take-off and landing of the Delta Clipper rocket in 1993. Elon Musk was not involved.

First Vertical Take-off Vertical Landing (VTVL)
Not 2015, 20 years earlier

The logical progression that should have been followed during the last century of space exploration is in hindsight very clear. How this starry program was derailed is very unclear and complicated. That a scientist with degrees in physics like Robert Goddard writing about rockets was denigrated and humiliated by the press seems strange after a pair of bicycle salesmen with high school diplomas had already built the first airplane. That America built such magnificent machines yet made the worst possible decisions about their design and use follows that strangeness. The failure to explain how rockets work to the public may have been the most significant factor leading to the end of the space age. The taxpayer watched fantastically expensive and giant pieces of hardware disappear into the sky and only a very small capsule return and, to add insult to injury, even the tiny capsule was not reusable. It might have helped to explain that all conveyances, including ships, aircraft, and vehicles, after traveling so many miles are eventually scrapped. Spacecraft traveling millions of miles at thousands of miles an hour by using up and scrapping all the mass necessary to do that in the first few minute’s sounds reasonable- but for those paying taxes the question of why that super-expensive mass was being used up would still have remained.

Project Orion, the true story of the atomic spaceship by George Dyson

Project Orion could have been the best way to initially explain space travel to the public but was never publicized in that way. Several years before Yuri Gagarin’s flight, Nuclear Pulse Propulsion was a practical technology available to be developed and carry large numbers of humans to the outer planets on epic voyages of discovery. There were no real technical obstacles to Nuclear Pulse Propulsion in the late 1950’s. The genius Stanislaw Ulam, who originated the concept and also invented the hydrogen bomb after the first atomic bombs, considered it his greatest work. The problem, of course, was and is the use of repurposed nuclear weapons. Setting aside the political issue, which to this day means the possibility of using them even outside the Earth’s magnetosphere with no fallout is not entertained, the contamination from a ground launch is completely unacceptable. Which means for now only multi-stage chemical rockets, literally a million times less powerful than a nuclear pulse propelled spaceship, is what we must use to lift humans off the surface of the Earth into space.

Explaining rocket staging to the layman can be difficult, much like difficulties I experienced explaining how a paraglider works to people who would watch me kiting my wing on a beach. They would ask me if I was going to fly and I would tell them gliders, when you see them maintaining altitude or climbing, are actually always flying downward through the air. The air around them is just going up faster than they are going down. A kind of optical illusion. I was practicing how to take-off, but the air has to be going up for me to fly and on the beach it was just coming straight at me. Like a car sitting on level ground instead of rolling downhill, I could not go anywhere. Then they would realize why I could not take-off from the beach. I have read the rocket pioneer Robert H. Goddard felt deeply humiliated by articles ridiculing him, but he might have tried to explain it to the newspapers better. Who knows what support he might have received then?

The best explanation I have read is to imagine standing on a child’s four-wheel wagon. You can wave your arms and it might move an inch or so back and forth, but you will not go anywhere. This was the common late 19th century conception of space as a vacuum, where there was nothing to push against so you could not go anywhere. To these journalists without a basic understanding of physics, Goddard’s spaceship was the ridiculous idea of a crank. But if you have a small stack of bricks in the wagon, and you pick one up and throw it, the wagon will actually move a short distance. This is how a rocket works and why Goddard, a physicist, knew it would work while those calling him a fool were actually the ignorant ones. Journalism is not rocket science.

Staging is about the rocket equation, written specifically for space travel by a Russian self-taught and deaf peasant librarian named Tsiolkovsky. He calculated two different escape velocities, one to achieve orbital flight and a faster one to completely leave Earth behind. From Newton’s equations in 1687 the idea had long been entertained you could shoot a cannon ball fast enough and at the right angle so it would no longer arc back to Earth but just keep falling around the planet. Tsiolkovsky wrote his equation in 1903, the same year the Wright brothers flew the first airplane, and it mathematically and precisely explained spaceflight and also calculated the velocity needed to leave Earth forever.

The rocket equation essentially means chemical energy is simply not powerful enough to get us into space on one big rocket. Lifting the heavy mass of engines and propellants and the structure carrying them uses up all those propellants before you get high and fast enough to reach escape velocity. If the bulky mass of the large tank structure and attached heavy engines could somehow progressively shrink and become lighter as propellants were used up, then the rocket could then achieve escape velocity before running out of propellants. And the way to do this is…stack a smaller lighter rocket with smaller lighter engines on top of the big rocket and just separate from the big one and leave all that dead weight behind when it is empty. Because of the low energy of chemical propellants, the drag of the lower atmosphere, and the depth of Earth’s gravity well, typically one rocket, the first stage, must loft and launch another smaller rocket, the second stage, which carries yet a third rocket. This final fractional payload of useful mass then goes high enough and fast enough to keep falling around the planet. Or leave and go to other planets.

Staging was how to get vehicles into space, but it was incredibly inefficient compared to other familiar conveyances and returning the stages back to Earth for reuse was not considered since this added a great deal of mass when reducing it by even a few pounds was critical and was the whole point. Not until advances in engines and materials made it seem just barely practical. Only now, in 2022, are rocket first stages being reused 10 to 15 times, which is considered the bare minimum for “breaking even” and replacing expendable stages. And it is still not proven that the company doing this is saving any money compared to expendable rockets. This is much like starting out with throw-away plastic jugs and then going to glass bottles that are picked up by the milkman and reused. The second stage of this model of rocket is still expended with it’s engine and it bears mentioning the Space Shuttle, while it never came close to breaking even, only expended a tank and returned all it’s expensive engines back to Earth for reuse. While it is just a matter of profit margins for the satellite industry, expendable versus reusable rockets for the citizen who is paying for Human Space Fight is the single greatest perceived issue regarding supporting and being willing to spend tax dollars on space exploration.

On the list of worst possible decisions made concerning space exploration, the number one bad call, in my view, was cancelling the Saturn V. As stated earlier, NASA could have made improving Saturn V with different iterations over a decades long program a fundamental goal of the space agency. Instead of the Shuttle, the first iteration S1C would likely have been a vertically landing back first stage. This was first done in 1993 with the Delta Clipper rocket, exactly 20 years after the last Saturn V launch and 12 years after the first Shuttle launch. In fact, using directed thrust for vertical takeoff and landing became an operational military reality in 1967 with the first flight of the Harrier Jump Jet. In terms of concept and engineering difficulty there is, in reality, not that much of a difference between a Jump Jet hovering and landing vertically and the first stage of a rocket hovering and landing vertically. Instead of the Shuttle being the pickup truck of space it would have been the Saturn V, with the first stage, made by Boeing, landing back for reuse as the first step in a fully reusable system. If, for example, the 1967 Harrier was taken as inspiration for landing back the S1C first stage and development had begun then, it is no stretch of the imagination to expect S1C landing back operations to have commenced by 1980, instead of the Shuttle.

Making a reusable Saturn V first stage, despite it’s size, would not have been as difficult as reusing the second stage. After reusing the first stage, capsule, and escape tower, the next step would have been returning the second stage and landing it for reuse. The second stage would have done at least one orbit, reentered and returned to vertically land at the launch site. We can see the very similar size and shape of the Shuttle external tank and the 21st century shiny starship prototype. The replacement for the North American S-ll second stage would have been a external tank sized stage with heat shield tiles and much smaller wing surfaces like the shiny stacked on top of the S1C.

This most likely design for a reusable second stage would have been a kind of fat uncrewed shuttle stacked on top of the already VTVL Boeing S1C, and landing back as a VTVL second stage in the early 1990’s. And on top of this stack, we can speculate as a standard payload the prime innovation that never should have been abandoned. Not using propellant tankage as payload was by my count the 2nd worst mistake NASA ever made. The wet workshop, the ultimate reusability scheme, has been unjustly condemned as a failed concept over the years, despite Skylab orbiting a space station in one afternoon when it took more than 30 missions over a decade to assemble the ISS. If von Braun had been given the extra few million dollars he requested to make Skylab a full wet workshop instead of a less expensive dry workshop, it would have been larger than the ISS with one launch.

The mass penalties for making the first and second stages of the Saturn V reusable would have been large and these iterations would have grown in size proportionally to that added mass. Lighter materials and more efficient engines would compensate somewhat but an early 21st century iteration of the Saturn V would be more like the Nova rocket originally specified for Apollo. Not a good design path to increase the number of engines though, so keeping five thrust bells for the first and second stages would be desirable. This follows the K.I.S.S. philosophy abandoned by everyone’s favorite rocket company. The Russian RD-180 is a good model to follow as it uses a single set of turbopumps to feed two thrust bells. A full-flow hydrogen rocket engine with each bell producing between 2 and 3 million pounds of thrust seems optimum in my view. The central engine would be the landing engine and thus, a pair of these engines, each with two thrust bells, and a less powerful landing engine is the most likely first stage configuration. The second stage would probably have a powerful central engine and use four smaller outer steering engines for landing.

A year before the Nazi’s launched the first rocket into space, the first operational jet aircraft took to the air in 1941. It is interesting to note the configuration of the ME-262 is exactly the same used today in all jet airliners.

The Russian Soyuz rocket family, first flown in 1957 over sixty years ago, also uses the same hydrogen peroxide turbopump system used in the first successful V2 rocket launch in 1942. The thrust chambers of the Soyuz generate a similar amount of energy to that first rocket launch over 80 years ago, when Nazi SS General Walter Dornberger announced, “This third day of October, 1942, is the first of a new era in transportation, that of space travel..” Dornberger later became vice president of Bell aircraft company.

Skylab may not be the best example to cite since retreating to Low Earth Orbit is by my count the 3rd worst mistake NASA ever made. The Moon was always the place to go, and the wet workshop would have been the critical building block of a cislunar infrastructure. Continuing exploration of the Moon with robot rovers and orbiting lunar satellites with radar and other sensors would have found the ice that was finally detected in 2008. Retreating to LEO insured that the ice, so absolutely necessary to expanding humankind into space, would be found 30 years late. The fact that cosmic radiation requires water shielding massing well over a thousand tons for a relatively small crew compartment means that lunar ice, lifted from the lunar surface using 20 times less energy than lifting water from Earth, is the single critical resource necessary for Human Space Flight Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit (HSF-BELO).

Infographic source: http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1410/1410.6865.pdf
Scientific American Magazine

The third stage wet workshop on top of that speculative late 20th century reusable Saturn V iteration would be built to accommodate a water shield and be double-hulled and spherical. A “Fat Workshop.” Connecting two wet workshop crew compartments with a tether system, or one to an equal mass, and thus providing a Near Sea Level Radiation 1 Gravity (NSLR1G) environment, would enable a permanent human presence Beyond Low Earth Orbit with no dosing or debilitation and thus no permanent damage to astronauts.

It may be that in some alternate universe the Saturn V program continued and Gerard K. O’Neill convinced the U.S. government in the 1970’s that Space Solar Power and not cold war toys were the economic future of America. In that other world a version of myself might actually now be employed in a factory on the Moon in 2022, instead of dreaming about it. In this dream are lunar manufactured 1000-foot diameter multi-thousand-ton alloy discs as Nuclear Pulse Propulsion “engines.” Miles in diameter artificial hollow spinning moons as the future home of the human race with Earth becoming a vacation destination. Beam propelled ships gradually transferring the human race to space. Whole body cryopreservation without damage and the first Bernal Sphere Starships leaving the solar system. I can dream.

Serenity should have used artificial moons
Beam-propelled Spaceliner beginning second stage boost with satellite power beam while still drawing power from first stage
ground station
Nuclear Pulse Propelled Spaceship
Full recoil after pulse unit detonation
“Splitting the ship” for cruise mode with Tether Generated Artificial Gravity TGAG
Crew section with massive water shield preparing for tether deployment
Payload section as equal mass at the end of tether system
Deploying tether system for artificial gravity cruise mode
Spinning at 1G

My most recent musings have concerned the SLS and future iterations, but the best possible future is likely a clean sheet design and perhaps focusing on that ultimate reusability scheme I cited.

I have been thinking about getting that “Fat Workshop” into space and when the concept is carried to its logical conclusion it is the structure itself that is really the primary payload and so not losing any structure becomes the goal. This seems to largely defeat the whole purpose of staging though, and leaves only jettisoning the engines as a way to reduce mass and reach escape velocity. It may be possible to get by with just jettisoning engines, or it may take new engine developments, like rotating detonation, to make it happen. By attaching an outer and inner ring of engines, and single center Earth departure engine, the Chrysler SERV appears the best guide for effecting the Fat Workshop double-hull concept. The first U.S. orbital flight was accomplished on a “stage and half” vehicle, the Atlas, which only dropped the weight of two of three engines to attain orbit. This Atlas/SERV would have two rings of engines, the larger of which would land on a ship and the second would attain a low one-orbit return to launch. The last central engine would perform a Trans Lunar Injection burn, separate, perform a free return around the Moon to reenter and be reused. The central engine could certainly be heli-captured and it is even possible the smaller ring could be light enough to be heli-captured.

Atlas stage and a half with engine stage separate from core
Electron Heli-capture

My speculative cislunar infrastructure would launch these SERV-like Super Heavy Lift Vehicles fifty times a year for the Moon. The first ones would not leave geostationary Earth orbit and send robot landers to the Moon. These semi-expendable landers would derive their own propellants from lunar ice and lift back into space to intercept later workshops transiting across the cislunar sea to the Moon, rendezvous, and insert them into lunar frozen orbits. The robots would then ferry water from the surface up to the workshops filling their cosmic ray shields. Eventually these NSLR1G crew compartments would provide Space Stations in cislunar space and geostationary Earth orbit as well as Lunar Cyclers providing transportation to and from the lunar Space Stations.

Kinzinger: Lies Trump Truth

Plato did not like democracy because the mob voted the death penalty for Socrates. That is where representative democracy came into play to moderate direct democracy. A very simplified and paraphrased and somewhat analogized version of an over two-thousand-year-old historical saga, but as true as any such approximation. Climate catastrophe is looming and whether civilization will survive is the question no one can answer. The truth is what will save humankind and nothing else. And, as Pilate asked, “what is truth?”

The very reason this blog was created 7 years ago is Elon Musk. His cyberthugs had me banned, repeatedly, from all the popular space forums. So, I started writing here. And here we are with Musk and Trump and a host of neo-fascists trying to ban the truth and the concept of democracy. Why? Because democracy is the absolute enemy of those who worship money as the god of this world. Money is the only real magic and greed the only real conspiracy. All things evil and destructive can be traced back to the demon prince of hell Mammon. And in Orwellian fashion these very same Ayn-Rand-in-space-libertarian whack jobs that forced me to create this blog consider greed and craving for god-like power to be the only “good” in their nihilistic universe. Much like the Nazis.

Truth is the lifeblood of a functioning democracy, and the fourth estate of a free press is the only truth we the people know. A free press disseminating facts as truth is supported by an academia based on the scientific method. This is the big advantage modern society has over ancient Greece. Anti-science such as anti-vaxxer conspiracy theories and White Christian Nationalist grievance replacement conspiracy theories pushed on social media, denying the truth presented by the press as “fake news”, is fatal poison to American democracy. We know how the algorithms work to radicalize the lower half of the IQ spectrum in pursuit of clicks. This so simple mechanism is deadly to the truth. America as we know it is dying and unless an antidote is administered soon it will be too late. Truth.

Climate change is the red flag telling humankind to get woke. To tax billionaires out of existence before they burn civilization to the ground is our only hope.


Democracy Delegitimizing Extremism.

To the far right the term “Democracy” is not much different than “Communism.” In their view they are both systems that steal from the wealth creators.