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What else can you do with a Big Dumb Booster?

So, this Tuesday SpaceX pulled back the curtain to announce their Interplanetary Transport System—a monstrously large rocket, fully reusable and about two and a half times the size of a Saturn V moon rocket—capable of transporting a hundred people to Mars, and with a goal of initial flight testing within a decade.

It's not total vaporware: in the past couple of weeks they also tested the first full-up Raptor engine that will power the ITS (a cryogenic methalox engine with a closed-cycle gas generator, which gives it a specific impulse head and shoulders higher than Apollo-era kit and the capability to operate on fuel generated from the Martian atmosphere for return flights). They've also unveiled the biggest carbon fiber tank ever assembled (the fully-reusable ITS will use carbon composites extensively), and have unveiled a bunch of targets for what the ITS stack will be able to achieve: in non-reusable form it will be able to deliver a 500 tonne payload to LEO, and with reusability in mind a 320 tonne interplanetary craft capable of landing vertically on Mars (and, when refuelled, of returning to Mars orbit without staging).

So, here's my question:

What are the other possible commercial applications of the ITS, besides sending a million optimists to Mars?

Here's what I can see:

  1. 1-2 order of magnitude cost reduction in cost/ton of payload to orbit: this is axiomatic. ITS won't be commercially viable for Musk's proposed Mars colonization bid if the per-launch cost of this big-ass fully reusable rocket significantly exceeds that of the big-ass but not fully reusable (the second stage is disposable) Falcon Heavy that flies later this year. So let's posit a cap of $100M on flight costs, or maybe $400M for a disposable shot (which would only really be necessary for a single monolithic payload that can't be broken down into sub-elements massing less than 300 tons—candidates for which, see below). (Here are SpaceX's cost estimates.)

  2. Big, dumb, comsats: Currently the mass of a geosynchronous comsat is constrained by the payload of the available boosters, which are tailored to fit the perceived requirements of the comsat market. About half the mass of a comsat in GEO is fuel, used for positioning (satellites in geosynchronous orbit drift, very gradually, away from their parking longitude). Their power output is constrained by the solar panels they can carry and the size of their emitters. So a big GEO comsat today is on the order of 5-8 tons. A current advanced geosynchronous comsat such as Inmarsat-4A F4 has a 12 kW electrical system; this obviously puts a ceiling on its broadcast power; but ITS raises the bar so high that it effectively disappears. The first post-ITS generation of comsats could have power outputs in the megawatt range if necessary. So I'm going to guess that 1-2 decades after ITS flies, we're going to see satellite phones converge with regular cellphones in terms of size, convenience, and bandwidth capacity (although they're going to cost more). Upshot: terrestrial 5G and hypothetical 6G high bandwidth service will look more like municipal-area gigabit wifi, and your phone will cut over to satellite bandwidth if you roam into rural areas (or even suburban areas, by the US definition). But you won't notice anything except a slight increase in latency. It's as if your cell tower just moved into orbit.

  3. No more Kessler syndrome nightmares: the launch stack is fully reusable. Anyone not aiming to operate a reusable launch stack by 2030 at this point is a buggy whip manufacturer. So that's one source of debris gone. And another source of the problem is the number of objects in space. A few giant satellites are less likely to shed debris or risk a collision hazard than a large number of small satellites. And we'll have so much spare lift capacity that cleanup becomes a practical possibility, paid for by the insurance underwriting industry: sending up a fleet of cubesats to hunt down, grapple with, and de-orbit 1960s paint chips is cheap compared to the payout if said paint chip holes your orbital Hilton.

  4. Space tourism, for realz: the Bigelow BA-2100 spacehab only needs a 70-90 ton LEO launch capacity and has half the volume of the entire ISS. We can conservatively estimate that a space hotel with a ~300 ton mass fabricated using Bigelow's expandable tech and flown on the ITS would have 3-4 times the habitable space of the ISS, so room for 20-40 tourists and staff. (The inflatable hab tech isn't vapourware either: there's one docked to the ISS right now.) A week in space won't be a cheap vacation, but Virgin Galactic think people will pay $25K for 10 minutes in free fall; I reckon $250,000 for a honeymoon in orbit will find some takers among the 1%. (Passengers would travel as a sub-cargo aboard an ITS which would be mostly carrying other types of paying cargo.)

  5. Return to the Moon, this time for good: a huge problem with proposals to build a permanent base on the Moon is that the Moon is short on volatiles that you can turn into fuel, and has no atmosphere worth mentioning for aerobraking purposes. (Lithobraking is not recommended. Or should I say lithobreaking.) One serious proposal for a long-term Lunar presence requires the construction of a Lunar space elevator. This would not run from surface to geosynchronous orbit—the moon, being tidally locked, has no GEO—but instead to the L1 (near-side) or L2 (far-side) Earth-Moon libration points, 56,000 and 67,000 kilometers from the surface (points where the effect of the Moon's gravity and the effect of the centrifugal force resulting from the elevator system's synchronous, rigid body rotation cancel each other out and an elevator could be stable). Unlike a terrestrial space elevator sufficiently high tensile strength materials for such a tether already exist. There is, however, the slight problem of fabricating and shipping a 120,000 kilometer long cable out to near-Lunar orbit (and capturing a near-Earth asteroid to act as a counterweight). This is just a wild-ass Charlie guess, but I suspect shipping up 500 tonne cable drums will work out cheaper in the end than trying to build a carbon fiber factory in space (at least, until space industries are sufficiently developed to go the whole eat-your-own-dogfood distance). (Upshot: ITS probably makes the folks at LiftPort Group very, very happy.

  6. Stupidly enormous space telescopes: Because there is a budget and a booster that can lift primary mirrors 17 meters in diameter is going to make the astronomical community need a change of underwear when the implications sink in. (Put it this way: one part of the value proposition is "maps of continent-sized features on terrestrial exoplanets" by 2040.)

  7. (Speculative) Wake shield molecular beam epitaxy fab lines: with a wake shield you can produce an ultra-hard vacuum suitable for growing rystalline semiconductor thin films. I don't know wht the commercial implications are other than really pure GaAs and AlGaAs semiconductor substrates, but with rock-bottom launch costs and the ever spiralling cost of semiconductor fab lines (part of which is down to the requirement for clean room air flow on a large scale) we might see some semiconductor manufacturing activities planned for deployment in orbit after 2030. (After all, high-end microprocessors—at least before they're sliced, diced, and packaged in pin grid arrays—are some of the few objects that cost so much per unit weight that they'd be worth retrieving from orbit even with current generation flight costs.)

Anyway: these are the first non-Mars short term applications of ITS that I can come up with off the top of my head. Stuff I don't think is plausible: ITS upper stage derivatives used as ballistic point to point passenger transports on Earth (because reasons), pick-axe wielding asteroid miners going out to the belt to hew mineral ore and bring it back to Earth orbit (yeah, we'll get asteroid mining, but probably by using the smallest feasible robotic gravity tractor—you don't need the ITS for that job), microgravity crystallography factories for pharmaceuticals (oh come on), Lunar 3He mining for aneutronic fusion reactors (because if you can do aneutronic fusion at all Boron is much cheaper). Anything else? Chip in!

597 Comments

1:

Kilometer wide advertising billboards in LEO.

2:

Global Albedo adjustment satellites.

This gets us in to the payload size where it becomes practical to launch sunshades to mitigate our greenhouse gas polution.

The military implications of the very same technology should not be overlooked.

3:

Sunshades with adverising on the inside. Got to pay for it somehow.

4:

Small microgravity research stations perhaps? Along the lines of a single module space station, packed with equipment and a robonaut. Might be affordable by the wealthiest of universities or companies.

5:

I don't think $250k for a honeymoon is a 1%-er thing. I mean it's certainly outside my budget and outside the budget of I think everyone I know but you don't have to be in 1%-er territory to be working in a city job with that sort of figure as a potential bonus if you're in the right sort of job. Relatively normal people comfortably spend more than that on cars and things without being super rich.

The 1%-ers are the likes of Trump who had what he described as "a small loan from his father" to start his business, which is being reported to be $14M. If my father gave me $14M, even in today's money, let alone when the wig-in-orange got it, I wouldn't think of it as a small loan. I might, however, spend $250k of it on a honeymoon in space.

6:

Application-wise, I don't know of anything outside the realms of SciFi that needs 0g manufacture but all the conditions you've described for a space hotel sound like a lovely pod for workers. Attach it to second pod as an industrial base and make... I don't know. Super pure crystals? Drugs (of the legal or less than legal kind). What happens if you take a hybridoma into 0g and make monoclonal antibodies out there say?

And another one that will go with the "space hotel" will be porn. Porn exploits all new technologies after all. Whether that's a space brothel or 0g porn shoots or what I don't know, but it will happen.

7:

Bah, we need an edit function. The bigger payload probably makes industry in LEO workable too if there's something that needs the environmental conditions.

8:

One of the "historical" ideas for 0-g manufacturing has always been "single crystal castings"; that seems to tie in with your "super pure crystals".

I'm not sure either way about the plausibility of 0-g coitus; it might do some interesting things to C-cup or larger boobs as they assume a different shape to the usual limited range of catenaries, but it occurs to me that, ah, maintaining penetration is going to require the participants to be tied together around their pelvic girdles and/or thighs.

9:

Military applications, obviously (rods from God should be possible, for instance). Combat satellites?

The one that's more interesting to me is that you could have some truly huge solar panels, and therefore a giant energy budget.

Here on earth, the big energy users are manufacturing, HVAC and transportation - and computing.

HVAC and transportation don't seem that interesting in space.

0g manufacturing isn't interesting in itself - there doesn't seem to be much we know how to make in 0g that we can't do in 1g, and if there is stuff we don't know about, then it's going to be after we learn manufacturing techniques in 0g for making things we already know how to do in 1g. But 0g manufacturing for space industries is interesting - if you can make it up there, it doesn't need to ride a booster, which also means you can make bigger things, as you're not constrained any more by the size of the booster.

We could definitely have space missions that are much more autonomous by putting a lot more computing power on board - but only if there's the electrical power to run them.

I'm imagining a next-generation Mars Rover that has huge wing-like solar panels and a couple of tons of computing hardware on-board.

10:

Actually, on consideration, it's the inner-system stuff that really benefits from solar power. An autonomous Venus airship?

11:

Per Newton, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction ...

... Consequently I suspect any kind of penetrative sexual activity in microgravity will require bondage accessories, simply as a substitute for gravity in holding the participants together.

(Business opportunities: being able to market sex toys as "tested in free fall". Drawbacks: I've got no idea how erectile function responds to microgravity and I suspect NASA et al will be very coy about discussing their findings -- think blue-nosed congresspeople -- but it's possible that there will be physiological difficulties for both male and female people resulting from fluid retention (short term), and bone/muscle mass changes (longer term). I note that most astronauts are too busy, too old -- minimum age in their thirties, often significantly older these days -- and have too little privacy to get it on, although I'm pretty sure there have been married couples (and probably unmarried ones) in orbit already.)

12:

"But you won't notice anything except a slight increase in latency."

Slight? On 4G I'm getting ping times of 40-50ms. Speed of light to'n'from GEO is >= 240ms.

13:

I did molecular beam epitaxy for a couple of years at the US Army Nightvision Lab. I've heard of wake shield MBE as a concept, but there wasn't (at least circa 2004) any real interest from the community. For the most part, ultrahigh vacuum is a solved problem. It can become unsolved if your inputs have unexpected trace contaminants, but going into space probably won't help with that. Anyway, most thin film semiconductor deposition had moved to MOCVD for cost reasons, despite a slight drop in achievable quality for some materials.

14:

I would be building a huge fuel depot in orbit. This would be for resale to all takers as well as quickly refueling orbital infrastructure.

15:

I'm surprised there's no zero G porn from the Vomit Comet.
As a bonus, here's an article I wrote on unarmed combat in zero G which addresses similar problems

https://medium.com/@dirk.bruere/unarmed-combat-in-zero-g-57286ccbf102#.vqdb4ukxz

Serious Zero G sports?

16:

One other - geoengineering. What area of aluminized mylar can you get in a 300 tonne payload?

17:

Much more planetary science! At that sort of cost per tonne (tonne! not kilo!) to orbit, a Neptune orbiter can deliver results within in a Congressman's career. If a risky Venerian adventure's launch costs fall by two orders of magnitude, it may be a lot more likely to happen.

In a related vein: if launch costs for experimental (propulsion, manufacturing, comms, life support) tech were to fall by two orders of magnitude, would it be proportionally easier to get early stage funding for such projects? Have lower launch costs historically translated into higher rates of development in these industries?

It's worth considering the methalox engine + carbon composite structural tank combination as applied to smaller launch vehicles, too. What's to stop them building a next-generation booster in the 20 tonne to orbit bracket with similar performance characteristics? Have I misunderstood the distribution of costs in the launch business?

18:

GEO is a long way up, but if you look at Iridium, the cluster orbits about 780km up -- so speed of light return latency to LEO comsats is more like 50ms.

I'd expect some sort of cascading hierarchy of bandwidth latency in such terrestrial/satellite hybrid comms systems: use local networks where possible, then 4/5G around cities, then LEO sats if one is above the horizon, and finally fall back to GEO or something in a Molniya orbit for people who are out in the sticks and between LEO satellite footprints.

19:

I'm surprised there's no zero G porn from the Vomit Comet.

Vomit Comet rides are expensive: to run a mid-sized airliner costs on the order of $2000-10,000 per hour, and a VC has to be adapted somewhat for the job (if nothing else, to add internal padding). Porn is typically produced on a shoe-string budget.

There have been movies filmed on a Vomit Comet -- the free fall scenes in Apollo 13 spring to mind: they built an entire Apollo LM/CM interior into a plane and flew it for several hours of shooting -- but it's not cheap.

20:

All this could have been done 50 years ago with Sea Dragon
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Dragon_(rocket)

But if I were someone like Musk, I would be considering launching an Orion from (say) N Korea

21:

What's to stop them building a next-generation booster in the 20 tonne to orbit bracket with similar performance characteristics?

Economies of scale may apply, but I'd be surprised if they don't build a successor to Falcon-9 and Falcon Heavy that uses the Raptor engine and methalox instead of Merlin and LOX/RP-1. 3/9 first stage engines instead of 9/27, fully reusable upper stage, and parts commonality with its big brother.

But that's not a visionary project and I'd be surprised if SpaceX made a big deal about it -- sort of like Apple not bothering to run major launch events for the iPod Touch any more, in contrast to the hoopla over a new iPhone.

22:

I'm surprised there's no zero G porn from the Vomit Comet.

Charlie makes some relevant points in #19. Also, I don't think NASA would be on board with using their's, so you have to refit another airliner and learn how to fly the relevant profiles, oh and get some controlled airspace to fly them in.

Then there's the whole issue of your 0-g experiences being broken up into 30s segments with this method, which may? be realistic for most people, but which pornographers aren't going to be happy with since they'll want several minutes at a stretch!

23:

Here's my view on the booster's uses for satellites.

Outside of niche uses you've brought up, I don't think that this rocket will bias big satellites over smaller ones.

First, large satellites are more expensive than smaller satellites in ways other than the launch vehicle costs.

Second, satellites don't really need that much more fuel. I remember an LA times article from 2008 which I used in my senior design project which mentioned that (at that time), two thirds of satellites in orbit had been functioning over a decade and one third for over 2 decades. In short, I'm not sure it makes sense for companies to go for satellites with an even longer lifespan. Remember the time horizons most companies work under these days.

Third, it still makes sense to disperse your assets in different orbits than to cluster it in one orbit.

Fourth, what percentage of functioning satellites in space would benefit their owners by getting bigger? In short, why would their owners want a bigger satellite? This one may have a high answer, but I don't want to assume it.

What I think this booster will be used for is launching swarms of satellite which then move into their own orbits.

24:

A competent editor, cast and crew could easily stitch a complete scene together from 30s segments (as "cut to another angle" if nothing else) but as Charlie says porn is made on very small budgets (apparently because compared to how popular it is very few people actually pay for it).

25:

If the cost of launch gets low enough expect all sorts of "Artisan" products (and probably claimed miracle properties).
I suspect (for example) cheese would taste different when the organisms involved are in a free-fall environment so it won't take long for someone to claim it tastes much better. If people will pay a premium for Kopi Luwak coffee beans then they'll pay for anything.

26:

That's certainly true (based on knowing people who work in bondage photography rather than porn as such {and yes there are differences, not least that bondage will not involve penetration and may not even involve partial nudity}).

27:

Between NASA, the Chinese, Russians, ESA and the Indians someone must know about male erectile function in LEO. Unless they all do the modern equivalent of bromide in their tea. Someone might have an idea about the smaller (anatomically speaking) parallel female function too, there have been enough women in space.

Porn isn't only about a penis penetrating a vagina: whether it's toys to bring you closer, toys that "make you scream, even in space" to paraphrase a famous movie tag-line, there's a market for it and video of it too. There's certainly a market for bondage porn. There are positions that lend themselves to holding on tight to each other and aren't too gymnastic too. And some that on Earth might require a gymnast with the stamina of a marathon runner become easier because you're not supporting all that pesky weight. You'll bounce around the room but if her legs are locked around his waist you're not going to fly apart for example.

Speaking of large breasts, as paws was, I do remember there was a glamour model on the vomit comet in a bikini and video of her breasts bouncing around a few years ago. It was one of those click-bait things at the bottom of pages before I installed an ad-blocker and I don't remember enough details for a quick search to give me useful hits. But it has been done, although not longer term.

28:
I suspect (for example) cheese would taste different when the organisms involved are in a free-fall environment so it won't take long for someone to claim it tastes much better. If people will pay a premium for Kopi Luwak coffee beans then they'll pay for anything.

I'm still expecting Nikka to ship a full cask of their finest product to mature for 3 years in zero G.

Old limited edition of whiskey fetch a tens of K$ per 1L bottle, you can probably sell zero G whiskey in that range even without 25 years of zero G...

Unfortunately, it won't be scotch whiskey, because the label require maturation in scotland, and 5mn every 90 doesn't count.

29:

Space plants & pets!

Since growing plants and animals will have to be tried anyways if humanity is ever going to colonize off-planet, then a side-business would be - once the requisite post-landing testing has been completed - to 'retire' the early experiments by placing in them good homes for a hefty 'donation'. These good homes could be extended to include universities and corporate labs which would probably use them for further study.

Better than some crummy T-shirt.

30:

I'll agree most of this, but not that I was thinking about large breasts as such! I was thinking about how any breast large enough to assume a catenary (or flatten if the owner's lying down) under 1g would form a different curve in 0g, which is as interesting mathematically as it is erotically!

31:

Er, Scotch is "whisky" without the 'e'.

Having said that, adopting the same law that "Space Whisky" (let's grab the (TM) and (C) on that now) must be matured for at least 3 years in 0g seems like a good idea!

32:

Science-y specific example ...

Fabricating or growing space-debris collection mirrors and sticky surfaces (in space*) to measure the types and amount of space dust floating around at various distances away from our planet**. One of the recurring arguments against near-FTL flight is the threat of being hit and crippled by such debris. But has anyone ever actually measured this threat? This could also be an opportunity to clear some of this debris to create a safe-ish space lane for future travel between points. There's precedent for this too: trees are cleared, gullies filled in, etc. before any road or highway is ever laid down planet-side.


* Let's face it, pretty well everything we do on the planet has to be pre-tested/done in space for a first time because even on Earth (which we think we really know very well), surprises still happen.


** Also useful for collecting and quantifying space-organics for the biologists & chemists. And if you can position such collection plates at different points relative to the Earth & Sun, then you could test what happens during solar storms. Maybe there are special particles being emitted that we're unaware of, therefore weren't looking for.

33:

How can people on THIS site forget rule 34?

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Uranus_Experiment

Back to topic, I would expect humble beginnings of true space industry raise from orbital service and repair. With some special smelting equipment and 3d printer, one may be able to repair or repurpose broken equipment. Just replacing degraded solar arrays may considerably extend life of those big ass sats.

34:

I disagree with this. See my explanation for satellites.

35:

As early as STS (Shuttle) mission 47 there have been married couples in space together.

I am aware of no reports of any kind of "extracurricular" activities, however.....

36:

I've had the idea before for asteroid mining direct to ultrapure elements by the construction of a huge, in-vacuum mass spectrometer. Vapourize asteroid mass using a free electron laser, charge and accelerate it through a magnet with a solar powered station-keeping thruster, into catch buckets where pure elemental materials would be deposited, then ship them back the slow way using an ion engine and a lot of slingshot orbits. It sounds like this would make it possible to toss up that kind of mass.

Oh and also, a Dyson swarm, that might be possible too.

37:

Speaking of filming in the Vomit Comet, here's a music video filmed in a rented airliner: OKGO - Upside Down Inside Out.
Looks like fun, gets a bit messy at the end.

38:

the Moon is short on volatiles that you can turn into fuel

Strictly speaking, this is TBD. Various observations indicate there is a certain amount of water and other volatiles near the lunar poles, a fact that has excited vast enthusiasm among, er, enthusiasts. But we don't know how much there is and in what form it occurs, and what is needed is a few prospector rovers to poke around and get better data.

39:

Speaking of which, much bigger rovers should be possible with ITS.

40:

I wonder whether there's value in being able to put an infantry company anywhere in the world within 30 minutes of 'go'? If it's important enough for a few more boosters, how about a battalion? With armored vehicles?

First step to Starship Troopers, maybe.

41:

"I've got no idea how erectile function responds to microgravity"

I doubt it would make much difference. It works perfectly well underwater, after all, which is pretty much the same thing. And as far as shifts in the distribution of body fluids go - less in the legs, more in the head - we're probably talking about the neutral point. Not to mention that there already exist solutions, both pharmaceutical and prosthetic, to the problem of normal functioning being inadequate to the demands of cinematography.

Loose droplets, though. Ewww.

On a completely different tack, one possible result would be the development of very small boosters. DIY type, backyard-to-orbit. See dpb's replies at #1 and #3. If some bugger starts putting permanent adverts in the sky, then I for one am going to try and implement a method of shooting them down, and with the number of people on this planet there are bound to be plenty of others with the same idea who are also better at putting it into practice.

42:

It was Kate Upton. They did a shoot with her in a bikini the Vomit Comet. She's done some rather unorthodox shots before - one of her prior shoots to that one was a bikini shoot in Antarctica.

Something like Musk's launcher would make space solar a potentially viable operation, at least if you could build a solar power array that could "unfold" in space once it's at the right orbit. Build the ground array in a low-populated area, build the transmission lines, and now you've got a good way to supplement ground power supplies.

Personally, I'd love to build a long-axis space station using it. Put a space station in orbit attached along a central truss, spin it up for gravity, then just keep adding segments lengthwise for more room.

43:

Actually liquid methane has only slightly better specific impulse than the first-stage of the Saturn V booster. (299s vs. 289s) and the upper stages of the Saturn V used liquid hydrogen with far superior ISP (381 vs. 299). The big win of methane over kerosene is that it supposedly greatly reduces the maintenance cost for reuse because it doesn't leave a carbon "crust" on the engine parts. Since salaries dominate the cost of a launch, the fuel saving is insignificant in terms of cost.

http://www.braeunig.us/space/propel.htm

As for hydrogen, it's tough to work with and it would be very hard to do in-orbit refueling with it. As a practical matter, I'll bet they eventually end up with a nuclear upper stage, if this really ends up going to Mars.

44:

Speaking of which, much bigger rovers should be possible with ITS.

True enough. Really big core drills!

45:

Well, there's this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77-pNVbE0Uw

Not exactly porn, but close.

Mikael

46:

The OKGO video was shot on a Russian version of the Vomit Comet, so I guess a Russian oligarch could have sex in there. The problem is that you only get 30 seconds of zero G, and then you get compressed rather hard as the plane gains altitude for another pass. Not the most romantic of rides.

When I first saw the question, the first thing that came to my mind was the nuclear war card game from flying buffalo. One of my friends had it in college. As I remember, one of the cards was a Saturn V equipped with some sort of ginormous warhead.

I don't know why I thought of this when I saw what Musk was building. Obviously, he's a humanitarian, and not in dietary terms (referencing the previous thread of comments). He's one of the good guys, right? No oligarch other than Don The Con would ever think of becoming a nuclear power. Would they?

The other thing I thought was that Musk needs to start investing in that New Mexican space port, because Cape Canaveral could easily be under water soon (Daily Mail article)

47:

A lunar colony could build aluminum-oxygen rockets. The propellant is not as good as the usual stuff but it can be made out of moon rocks.

Combined with your idea of using a lunar space elevator, which skips the worst part of using discount rockets, maybe the moon is actually a good place to build probes and satellites.

48:

A Martian version of that would be using Carbon Monoxide rockets. The ISP is way worse than something like methane, but it'd be easy to make and you can use it for short suborbital hops around the planet.

49:
I don't know why I thought of this when I saw what Musk was building. Obviously, he's a humanitarian, and not in dietary terms (referencing the previous thread of comments). He's one of the good guys, right? No oligarch other than Don The Con would ever think of becoming a nuclear power. Would they?
Never! It's not like he's a Bond villain or something.
50:

Ooooh! I'm thinking there will be a market for personal a-sat launchers. Can't say that an orbital billboard wont be an easy target to hit. We didn't just spend the last decade honing spam filters and adblock browser extensions for nothing!!!

51:

Interesting that people have been dancing around this idea, but not mentioned it:
Blockbuster movies filmed on location in SPAAAACE!!!!
With budgets in the 100-200 million dollar range, sending the cast & crew up to film stuff in extended zero G is probably competitive with wires & green screen (and post production).

I have to admit I would love to send up an Enterprise model in orbit....

52:

I was going to go with Darien Scheme, but I see Elon already has that covered. :/

53:

Re: Erections in 0g. I read an early Shuttle astronaut's memoir who described the on-orbit morning wood as, err, aggressive. Elsewhere I've seen NASA describing the process as difficult, owing to something something fluid distribution- but there is at least one contrary lived experience.

Anyways.

My first thought was it could be enough payload to do a Europan cryosub mission, maybe with sample return. Elon has pointed out that a ship able to make a powered landing on Earth and Mars can do a powered landing on every other solid body in the solar system (save Venus, one imagines) and the life support and living quarters for one hundred people seems like the sort of mass that might be swappable for a drill rig or robo-mole of some variety, a couple hundred kilometers of tether, and a hefty (likely nuclear) power source.

There are a few other big-iron planetary science missions I can think of- a persistent drone or blimp for Venus, Jupiter, or Saturn, etc.

And there are the persistent promises of big boosters- solar power satellites springing to mind. Which I've read several analyses suggesting that the increases in PV efficiency were bringing within reach- mostly authored by companies that already blew their budget and timeline to build SPSs.

To my mind, the more interesting question than secondary utility, is whether or not the primary use is of sufficient interest to anyone to get the thing built- or if it should be. Musk is hardly the first to describe an architecture for Mars missions that involve arbitrarily large and unbuilt boosters, on-orbit fueling, massed departures, and in-situ resource utilization- if I'm not mistaken, the first sexily illustrated depiction of that architecture was made by Von Braun. In general, the trick has really been figuring out how to get anyone to Mars while using as *few* of those components as possible (generally by leaning hard on the fourth- I built an ISRU plant about fifteen years ago and it's by far the easiest of the four problems).

I don't think there has been a rocket manufacturer that *hasn't* extrapolated their new booster architecture to some gargantuan clusterific scale and commissioned some nice graphics showing it populating a Battlestar Galactica fleet headed somewhere or other- but because Musk has this whole rosey glow of Silicon Valley ubermensch about him, it's treated as prophecy instead of one more military-industrial low-probability demo reel.

And implicit in the notion that he's going to get someone to pay for the R&D to get returns from scale on shipping to Mars, is that there's someone interested in shipping at scale to Mars. I don't doubt that it's within human capability to devise a system to ship a thousand people a day to the South Pole in the dead of winter, but I'm not keeping my eyes peeled for the groundbreaking ceremony.

54:

Musk is positing 10 - 11 years to actuality?
2027 or 28?
How long is Skylon proposing to take?
Winner "may" take all, unless there's available niches for both, in which case it becomes even more interesting.

Particularly interested in #2 - End of Kessler ..
Practical methods?

55:

First and formost: use the damn thing to put up *REAL* space stations, including The Wheel. Put several up in upper LEO - say, around 1k klicks up, below the bottom of the Van Allen Belts. Then put three up in geosync - no, make that six. Three large platforms, and you can put *all* your comm stations on it, only one thing doing stationkeeping. And the *other* in geosync are true spaceports. You go up to them, then get on your connection to true space ships, orbit-to-orbit only.

And solar power satellites, damn it!

The ones below the Van Allen Belts - same setup: of whatever number, one for communications/observation/industry, and the other transfer stations for shuttles going from there to the geosync spaceports.

And *then* you've got true interplanetary infrastructure. Add a real, serious base on the Moon, for industry, and manufacturing Forget the elevator, I'll take an e-m launcher.

Now, to the important things: my late ex, an engineer at the Cape for 17 years, told me two things: first, yes, an orbital club does exist (I forget who she told me the first woman was), and second, dolphins do it as a threesome, taking turns, I believe.

And, the obvious wrap-up:
"Home, home, on LaGrange,
Where the space debris always collects,
We possess, so it seems,
Two of Man's greatest dream,
Solar power and zero-gee sex"
- Home On LaGrange,
Bill Higgens and Barry Gehm

57:

I can think of at least two problems to that quite quickly.

You have a very hot, fast moving object that ought to be easy to target. You send a relatively dumb kinetic object at it and you have no more rapid reaction force from space I'd think?

In case that's not enough, given how hard it is to get the ISS crew walking and moving comfortably after 6 months on the space station, I wonder how short the tour of duty would have to be to keep the troops fit for active duty? (I suspect the Russians have good data on this, they did a lot of long space missions, but NASA might too.) I know military expenditure is sometimes crazy, but if you have to rotate 30 troops every 30 days say, is it really worth it, even if you can't shoot them down easily? It certainly isn't if you can shoot them down easily.

58:

Nah, Musk is clearly working for Special Circumstances. He's already given it away with his tender ship names.

59:

Actually liquid methane has only slightly better specific impulse than the first-stage of the Saturn V booster. (299s vs. 289s) and the upper stages of the Saturn V used liquid hydrogen with far superior ISP (381 vs. 299).

Wrong. Cited Isp for Raptor is 382 (vacuum). I think your figures for current engine efficiency are a bit out of date.

60:

How long is Skylon proposing to take?

Skylon: proposed payload 15,000kg to LEO, 200 flights/airframe.

ITS: proposed payload 320,000-500,000kg to LEO, 1000 flights/airframe (1 flight for max payload using disposable booster).

Development costs:

Skylon: est. $12Bn, first flight by 2025

ITS: est. $10Bn+, first flight by 2024

I think at this point SpaceX has won. ITS has cheaper operating costs (if it can hit its target), doesn't require the development of any radically new technology (the motor, tankage, and flight profile are already in test/flying Falcon 9 hardware), and scales up. Skylon has the horrible handicap of being British (and you know how crap we are at properly funding breakthrough aerospace developments, since circa 1962), requiring a couple of magic wand type breakthrough technologies, and being too damn small (just like the Comet).

61:

Note that while satellites in LEO can be communicated with using small fixed antennas at low data rates (e.g. phone calls or modem speed data) you cannot get high speed data. You need a higher gain antenna on the ground to improve the link budget, typically something which tracks the position of the satellite.

62:

“Serious Zero G sports?”

But of course, Space Ball: played in a large pressurized expandable sphere similar to the Bigelow spacehab only 100 meters across. Played in very low light with teams consisting of 3 to 6 players wearing skintight suits (somewhat padded) and helmets that glow different colors for each team (think TRON). The object of the game is to sling a glowing volleyball into the opponent’s meter sized glowing goal ring on the opposite side of the sphere. Played in zero G it would be very acrobatic and a contact sport involving a lot of body checking/blocking.

Practical applications of the Space Ball sphere would be for exercise and training. Practicing with equipment and tools in a zero G environment without the worry of people or things floating off into space.

63:

It's not from space. It's using this monster as suborbital.

64:

I went out at lunch and had a look at Beetham Tower (I work about a block away). It's the building that Eastercon was in this year, some of you (including Charlie) were there. About halfway up, there's a visible widening of the building (and a rather fun glass-floored bar). That's at about the height of the ITS sitting on the pad.

It was an interesting - if somewhat vertiginous - sense of scale. You might want to look up the heights of nearby skyscrapers and see what's 77.5m tall near you.

65:

A launcher on the moon just need to achieve orbital velocity at, say, twice as tall as the highest mountains. This is a lot lower than the libation points. I don't know whether a magnetic brake/catcher would be practical, but just getting rid of the requirement for high-G launching would mean that you didn't have nearly as much need for the lunar space-elevator. (And I still like the PinWheel which could lower things nearly to ground level, say twice as tall as the highest mountain, and lift things higher into orbit...though that's mainly a time saving as I assume you're going to be using an ion-rocket to maneuver once you're out of the gravity well.

With a decent ion-rocket design the only reason to use a large launcher is if you're in a hurry, or to go in and out of a gravity well (from below orbital height/velocity). Of course, we don't yet have a really good ion-rocket, but that actually seems to me more doable than the ITS, it's just that it's not as flashy and less work is being done on it. The hard part is a good (almost-)closed cycle ecology, and that's not really needed by robots.

So what you can do with a big dumb booster is move heavy things, and move things rapidly. You want to push a asteroid in a hurry, use this. If you've got time, either use an ion-rocket or some other technique. (I'm not really sure that painting half of it white would work...but it might.)

66:

There are reasonable reasons for satellites to get bigger, but most of them could be incremental. E.g., geosynchronous orbit is crowded in lots of places and you can't easily add more satellites. But I think you COULD chain existing satellites into a mesh such that effectively you had fewer that were accomplishing the same goal. (There might be problems with transmitter isolation that I don't understand, though.) But if you did you could economize by having them share a power supply, and various analogous ways. This, however, would require work in orbit to establish the connection, and THAT is expensive.

So if you originally launched a larger satellite then you would get the advantages without that cost. But you'd need to do a lot more inter-company planning, and risk more on each launch.

67:

I love how most of the comments are about zero G porn and sports.

Anyway, one of the main things to think about with this gigantic super rocket is that it's basically the Space Shuttle, version 1.0 (you know, before Congress and the Air Force got ahold of it).

It's basically the same dream: a fully reusable two stage launch platform, where the booster flies home while the space ship is a hypersonic lifting body with very small wings. That's what NASA wanted to build.

The only really significant differences as I see it are that it's bigger, and it's meant to be refueled in orbit for deep space ops. But that's obviously not a new idea.

So what is this useful for? Well... Basically anything people imagined the shuttle being for back in the '70s and '80s before peoples' dreams all fell apart.

What's it useful for, commercially? Probably very little. You could launch huge space stations, but there's just no way these things will be as reliable as airplanes, and filthy rich tourists are going to be pretty risk averse.

In general, big space vehicles are probably never going to be commercially viable, until after we have some sort of space colonies to act as a market. If there was a colony on Mars, this thing would be a fantastic means of carrying people and trade goods.

Since there isn't, I submit that it's simply not a commercial endeavor at its heart. It's for other reasons.

69:

OK, how about this:
A pair of, say, Neptune orbit observatories a third of an orbit apart, each with a 5 mile mirror. Synchronizing them the way radio telescopes are synced on earth would be a bit of a deal, but should be doable. That would effectively give us a monstrously good telescope, and I read (in an SF story) that with that large a mirror you could use flat panes of glass for the mirror panes.

Of course, it would still be ridiculously expensive, but think of the resolution, and the light collecting power.

This really needs a complete space industry to make it reasonable, but I think with the "big dumb booster" it's on the bleeding edge of possibility.

70:

I'm another vote for proper long term space stations. It'll be interesting to have people up there, trying to live in artifical gravity etc. What, you mean it'll cost money? There are hundreds of billiosn of dollars sloshing about the world, looking for a safe haven, but somehow not finding one. Just got to persuade enough people that a space station would be a good one.


So space x versus Skylon - betamax versus VHS? Quick american engineering versus perfectionist germans? *insert stereotype here*

71:

Zero gee sports? Okay, I guess we could use it to build the Battle Room.

Not sure who the buggers would be in this scenario...

72:

I don't know where, but I recall some story where they had a kind of zero gee basketball/soccer sport. It was played in an ellipsoid volume and the goals were the foci. The only other bit I recall is that if you pushed the ball straight away from one focus it would automatically be on a course to pass through the other one, unless interfered with.

Don't recall enough geometry to know if that is right.

73:

Misread this as Zero G-spots which is something slightly different.

Very different.

I'll get my coat.

(I can't find it now, but I dimly recall something about long term microgravity lowering blood pressure which would usually correlate with erectile dysfunction, although as described above, not all astronauts, and of course, other sexual activities are available.)

74:

Also a few notes about OGH's ideas:

Big, dumb, comsats

In general, the trend with comsats has been to get smaller. There are a few reasons for this: ion engines, better electronics, etc. However, regardless, expect this to be the case.

Also, keep in mind the orbital dynamics. The ITS can deliver a whole bunch of small to medium satellites to a single LEO orbit at once, and it can probably deliver some serious kit to a geostationary transfer orbit. If you want it straight to GEO though, it may need a fuel tanker because the space ship part has to come back to Earth. Notice that the Shuttle could never leave LEO for this reason.

SpaceX and others have mooted ideas for big satellite comsat installations, but they were talking about thousands of little satellites in medium orbits, so...

No more Kessler syndrome nightmares

... given the idea of launching huge constellations of comsats in the future, that's kind of the exact opposite of what you're thinking about here.

You can launch a giant satellite to geostationary orbit, but you could also launch a zillion smaller satellites to lower orbits and cover the whole sky that way (with low latency). People are talking about the latter, not the former.

Plus, if a big satellite takes a serious hit, the Kessler Syndrome affect is... significant.

Now, you could also launch some space garbage trucks with this thing, as you note. But it's hardly a simple tradeoff.

Space tourism, for realz

This thing seems beautiful, in fantasy form, for this. Why even bother with the Space Hilton? The launch vehicle alone is enormous, and clearly has weeks of LEO endurance (and months of deep space endurance).

The big problem is reliability. The market is going to dry up quickly, to say the least, when the first hyper-rocket full of excited millionaires explodes in flame.

And it will. This is by any measure an experimental vehicle, in a very conservative industry that's struggled to see less than 5% of its launch vehicles explode on liftoff (or fail to light the engines in flight, or any number of other failures). The whole industry also struggles to reach 100 launches per year, so the technology simply can't mature fast enough to be reliable.

Also like the Shuttle, it lacks an effective escape system. It could theoretically fly away from certain booster failures, but in comparison SpaceX's own Crew Dragon capsule has a redundant set of hypergolic rockets fully dedicated to crew safety, plus parachutes.

Overall, what this means is that safety is going to be a big concern for a long time.

Return to the Moon, this time for good and Stupidly enormous space telescopes

These are awesome, but are they commercial endeavors? I'd classify them as government (or possibly charity) funded exploration missions. That is, SpaceX might make a profit launching them, but there's no money in it otherwise.

Wake shield molecular beam epitaxy fab lines

At first blush, this sounds like something that could be achieved on Earth, but with a cheap enough launch system could speculatively be cheaper to do in space. So... maybe? If there was a big call for it in the future?

75:

A few musings on this whole thing.

I've always been a space cadet but had been sadly won around to the dismalist view of space development. No, we don't get mars cities, no, we don't get O'Neill colonies, we don't get orbital power satellites and millions of people in space. I don't like it but reality doesn't care about it.

Whether or not something makes sense has little bearing on whether a task is implemented. Mad King Ludwig's fantasy castles, Soviet destruction of the Aral sea in the quest for cotton, Henry Ford's Fordlandia which was intended to be a model city in the jungle, etc. But when you talk about something that requires a sustained commitment, like Fordlandia, it can fall apart once the founder is gone. You look at an empire cobbled together by force and you can predict it will fall apart once the guiding personality behind shaping it is gone. Perhaps his son and his son's son can hold it together a little longer but, lacking a unifying national identity, it will likely fracture along the national identities of the constituent peoples.

So on one hand, no matter what his intentions are, whatever the technical capabilities of his rockets, the dream of a Mars colony could well die with him.

Then again, people are talking about the Musk supporters being little more than religious groupies. Well, that could be true but that doesn't make the effort less likely. The most enduring human institutions are religious. You look at all the nations listed in the bible and you'll find the genes still extant for Hittites and Assyrians Babylonians but the culture is dead. We still have Egyptians but they worshiping the gods of the Pharaohs. The Jewish identity has persisted. The Catholic Church is a youngster in comparison but is ancient when compared with governments. Religious fervor can endure. It can make simple nationalism look like a passing fad like pokemon.

I can't even begin to calculate the odds of Musk achieving what he sets out to do here. What he's proposing is absurdly ambitious. Then again, what he's already accomplished was also absurdly ambitious.

He's going to need steady cashflows to make it happen. The argument against having larger launch vehicles is we don't need them. There are few imaginable payloads that could justify building something along the lines of the Saturn V. If he goes and does it anyways, making it reusable and far cheaper, I don't know where we might be.

There's the apocryphal quote from the 40's attributed to the head of IBM: "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." If he did say it, if he were talking about the next quarter, he was absolutely right. Given the expense and demand, how many more could be required? Decreases in price created opportunities.

If the rocket design proves sound and we get the kind of launch tempo he's imagining, I don't see why we wouldn't be putting up orbital stations and moon colonies as well. The rockets would have downtime between launch windows so why not keep them flying doing other things? There are arguments from the Marsies why we would want serious cities on Mars rather than on the Moon or why it would make more sense to go to Mars than build a free-flying orbital habitat. But it would still seem to make sense to do the moon as a proof of concept. It's not the same environment as Mars but it's still plenty hostile, will help us discover the problems we never even anticipated and is close to Earth for support if things go survivably wrong. You're a whole lot further away from help out on Mars.

76:

It's really a part of extending life permanently to the Moon(ideology ?) but I can see it as a profitable holiday/retirement location. Any takers for being the first to drive around the moon? Climb Tycho's central peak. These people need support for their expeditions. Better moonsuits will have to be developed for endeavours that take people outside. Buiding companies, vehicle factories, farming and all industries needed to make forementioned possible. Maglev trains that can go 2000 km/h (no air resistance). Go camping with your rental vacuumstream caravan, beware of the midgies up north though.

77:

My mind goes to Solar Power Satellites as well. Also, launching lasers if the SPS are practical.

78:

If you want it straight to GEO though, it may need a fuel tanker because the space ship part has to come back to Earth.

You don't send the ITS freighter out of LEO, you deploy the re-usable tug and payload and either loiter until that has been to GEO and back or collect it on the next trip. The USAF is making a substantial contribution towards development of a small version of the Raptor to fit a Falcon-9 2nd stage, for an ITS deployed tug you may want to make the tanks shorter and fatter that the F9 version but it will be starting from LEO with full tanks instead of having used a large chunk of propellant to get to orbit.

79:

The place to colonize are the asteroids, and the economic incentive is resources

80:

You don't send the ITS freighter out of LEO, you deploy the re-usable tug and payload and either loiter until that has been to GEO and back or collect it on the next trip.

That's certainly an option. On the other hand, the standard practice today is to just throw it in a highly elliptical GTO and give the satellite enough delta-V to circularize. Some of the more modern satellites just use ion engines for that, which takes longer but requires very little propellant.

Elon Musk's hyper rocket is so big, it can throw a battle tank directly into a transfer orbit and then land. Given that the whole thing is re-usable and also very expensive, you'd have some of the same safety concerns as Shuttle about putting big, dangerous rockets in the payload bay, too (see Shuttle-Centaur).

81:

@ 58
SC names - ?? Is there a readily-available list somewhere?

Charlie @ 60
That's what I was afraid of, but I felt I had to ask.

82:

Reaction Engines are on the Culham site, and gave a presentation this month on the state of play with the Sabre engine. Basically, there are no outstanding technical issues standing in the way of a full scale test article. I guess we'll see. The big issue is funding of course.

83:

“If the rocket design proves sound and we get the kind of launch tempo he's imagining, I don't see why we wouldn't be putting up orbital stations and moon colonies as well.”

I agree with you. A lot of things can be put on the moon, everything from large communication/broadcasting arrays, solar panel arrays, telescopes, processing and manufacturing factories of all kinds, large spaceports: building larger interplanetary spaceships in orbit or on the moon seems logical. Building nuclear power plants on the moon would be sensible. And there are plenty of raw materials on the moon, even water.

Why not the moon?

84:

So far as I know (and my ignorance on the subject is vast), the biggest US customer for giant satellites is the National Reconaissance Office, and their big radio and optical telescopes point towards Earth, not away.

For the next generation of even bigger satellites, necessitated because signals are getting more efficient and therefore weaker, the ITS might be just the delivery vehicle. Blow a huge satellite into LEO, then loose it with its own booster to go wherever it's supposed to go.

If Musk sets up shop on Vandenburgh rather than Canaveral, we'll know that this is his market.

85:

So far as I know (and my ignorance on the subject is vast), the biggest US customer for giant satellites is the National Reconaissance Office, and their big radio and optical telescopes point towards Earth, not away.

The material in the latest tranche of Snowdenalia in The Intercept indicates that the radio/SIGINT (ORION) and optical (KENNEN/KH-11) systems around in the 2000s were only refinements of the 1970s originals. I'm somewhat sure that's due to fairly serious physical limitations in the case of the optical spysats. Could be that bigger/fancier SIGINT ones would help, not necessarily by having much bigger antennas, but by carrying more feeds, receivers, processing equipment etc.

86:

First stage for Orion drive space vehicles?

"Fills the atmosphere with radioactive crap" has always been the real showstopper, even in the early days. (See Project Orion by George Dyson.) Not the only serious obstacle of course, but the other(s) are political and ethical, not physical.

And I'm pretty sure a small nuclear reactor would fit inside the the ITS. Move the entire Orion fuel production process into orbit?

87:

I could have sworn I saw somewhere on the interwebs some pictures of an executive jet fitted out for freefall sex a few years ago, but damned if I can find anything now. Bound to be cheaper than hiring a whole airliner for your porn shoots, but I don't know if it would be enough of a saving to make it worthwhile.

On the subject of putting a company of marines anywhere on the globe in 40 minutes, it's an old idea. Philip Bono was pushing it with his Ithacus troop transport SSTO (or I guess SSTSO, in this case), back in the Sixties. Picture here. Note the jet-pack featured for extra futurism goodness. Vehicle details here. The full-sized version (6400 tonnes, fully fuelled) would have carried a battalion; the smaller Ithacus Junior would have carried a company.

I don't know that a space-dropped battalion would have that much effect on most wars that you couldn't achieve with an ordinary airdrop. I seem to recall that back in the day when playing the SPI wargame, Objective Moscow, you had to make sure your relatively weak Space Shuttle Marines didn't face any opposition from ABM lasers and land them somewhere they could be relieved quickly, otherwise you had a sub-orbital Arnhem scenario on your hands.

Even dropping straight down with a crushing retro-burn at the last minute, I'd imagine an Ithacus would be vulnerable to any missile system with enough range to take out high-altitude aircraft. And if the opposition doesn't have such coverage, then an ordinary airmobile battalion would do the same job much cheaper.

88:

I can't imagine how building an atomic weapons factory in orbit could possibly break any international treaties at all.

90:

solar parasol maybe? help with climate change.

sub orbital passenger travel? point to point on the earth surface in 45 minutes

91:

There's DEFINITELY a market for video/movie production in zero G.

Like, OK GO did a video in "zero g": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWGJA9i18Co

92:

Was just going to mention the OK GO video. They did it in one take, with periods of free fall and periods of gravity. The flight attendants obviously practiced a lot!

93:

I wonder what might become possible in space medicine. Usually that is thought of as dealing with the degenerative effects of extended periods of time in zero g. But, with big cheapish facilities and cheaper passenger to orbit what might be possible in zero or microgravity that is not possible on Earth? I'm thinking delicate surgical interventions. OK, you gotta get the patient to orbit, yes, but what if you are pre-empting conditions? Neurosurgery or ophthalmic surgeries? 250K for a honeymoon might sound steep, but 250K to prevent paralysis or blindness starts to look like a very good value for some people. Are there potential therapies that look good in theory but fail in recovery etc under gravity?

94:

OK, the first, biggest, and one that will probably pay for the development (the magic happens here slide of Elon's presentation) is not commercial, it's military. The payload and vertical landing capability of just the top payload part would be enough to drop an army on the head of anyone you didn't like inside of 20mins, anywhere in the world. If you don't think the US is going to grab at that, you haven't met many US military. Add to that spy sats etc. and Elon will be getting many billions/trillions of defence cash.

On the commercial side, the space hotel is obviously a no brainer. Even with a explosion or two, it will do massive trade.

Unlike Charlie I think the point-to-point Concorde market will be large too - if for no other reason than the army dropper is trivial to translate to civilian usage, and the chinese/russian oligarchs would eat it up.

On the real commercial front, what about an Amazon fulfilment centre? Forget the tedious mucking about with drones, you can drop small, lightweight items anywhere in the world, from orbit, fast. Probably more a Blue Origin thing though.

Related to that is 'International Rescue' - being able to drop equipment and supplies to disasters at a moment's notice - great for the publicity (particularly if you are the military also looking to drop munitions).

Obviously Elon has already been talking about his satellite constellation as an earner.

And finally, I do wonder about the greenhouse effect. We have greenhouse gasses at altitude, making it difficult to do anything about them. Is there any magic pixie dust that can be scattered from above to promote the dissociation of those gasses fast than they would otherwise? A few hundred tonnes of such pixie dust might make for a controllable geoengineering mechanism.

95:

Sigh.

Men.

I swear.

7) Japan scale energy beams from the sky. [Go look it up, and then look up who is spending in that area]. And, yes, of course the .Mil is spunking all over it. Who wouldn't want a combination of unlimited energy and a death beam from orbit? [Hint: It's Nukes, but a little bit more ecologically sound, and it's FUCKING FROM SPACE, and IT IS ON LIKE DONKEY KONG]

8) Large Scale deployment of 'Sun Breaks'. i.e. Shit has hit the fan [400ppm CO2 now.. permanent] and you really need to slow that albedo effect down now the fucking ice has gone. [Pro-tip: "albedo" is high-lighted as "error" in this software. Beware your AI over-lords]. You need heavy lift for that scale of sun-screen.

Those are the common ones; now for the shit the common man won't hear:


9) Large Scale Orbital Fabs. China +++ and USA +[+] are into this. Gonna happen - and for it to happen, you neeeeeeed that heavy lift. It's gonna be BIG.

10) Tri-partite HWP over National Space. Done deal. Everyone wants/needs/wanking over Orbital Platforms.

Zzzz.


p.s.


Musk is ... well. He's fucking Trump for the Millennials, derp. Buy into the Myth, while the real Powers Play.

96:

If you need 10) explained:


It's Drones, bitch. But Space Drones. And Space Coverage. And, more importantly, Time = Money = Orbital Insertion.

HWP = Heavy Weapon Platform.

There are .mil / MIC black contracts currently wanking themselves into the void over the potential for orbital based insertion of drones and global coverage all controlled from Space.


Reagan was a bad actor: but sure as shit, everyone loves their SF.


[True - and so very very very dangerous to know]

97:

Um, and. Ooops.

You'd have to have a way to network your HWP and refuel / rearm them.

Given the way that Orbital Mechanics works, it'd have to be a larger object, with the ability to either be docked with [manual rearm] or 3D printing etc, and you'd need to network them in some kind of spider web. And then do some kind of automated linkage.

In a higher orbit.


Children of Time - Won the A.C.Clarke award this year. Personally, I found it dumb and silly.


If you want to uplift spiders, first off, they don't have the same neural networks mammals have. Second, they can never have the same complexity due to their size, something the author even acknowledged in his "ant bio-computers" spiel...

Oh, ffs: it was total bullshit. Shameful that that won.

Hint: My SF isn't.

98:

That's why I said the obstacles were political, not physical.

It will be much easier to renegotiate a treaty than to come up with a fission reaction that's both radiation and isotope free. My experience is that most opposition to nuclear technology is Not In My Back Yard, so most people won't care about a nuclear factory in orbit.

Or, if Elon Musk decides that his Mars colony really needs an Orion drive, he could build the factory in Moon or Martian orbit. I'm not saying that the colony will declare independence, but again most people really won't care about a legal dispute in outer space.

99:

Thank You
LURVE it ...

Oh & CT (etc) @ 95 - 97
Useful information, but did you really have to insert the overdone "emotion" ??

I suspect that 0-g fabs are going to be a big earner - but it may be microbiological.
Liquids, especially droplets, behave differently & are both more & less manipulable.
There was a surface-tension experiment on one of the first two shuttles - I saw some of the kit being made .....

100:

OH FER CHRISSAKE, people.

Zero gravity may be cool, but it's long-term bad for you. Decades of medical efforts to fix that have got NOWHERE. "Living" in space means more than sex, it means babies. Uh, no. Nope. Maybe once we're all GMOs, but not until then.

Part of the value proposition of a big launcher is that we no longer need to have puny space stations. You know, those cheap-ass zero gravity ones.

101:

I don't think that this BDB is going to be the key that leads to space sunshades. The mass needed to significantly offset anthropogenic radiative forcing appears to be on the order of millions of tonnes out past LEO. (Not to mention that solar radiation management IN SPAAACE has mostly the same problems as SRM done cheaply in the atmosphere with e.g. sulfate aerosols.)

Solar power satellites? Well, they look a little more plausible than without the BDB's existence, so there's that. But past waves of enthusiasm about SPS crested in situations where maximizing power output per cell was more significant because solar cells were a lot more expensive. Now crystalline silicon solar cells are cheap and batteries are... not cheap, but still cheaper than I can make SPS look even with hopeful squinting. Crystalline silicon is cheap, abundant, and efficient as PV materials go so it's great for terrestrial use. But it's not very tolerant of charged particle radiation damage, which means it's not a good fit for geosynchronous orbit where SPS would ideally be located, which also means that space-solar doesn't automatically ride the falling cost curve alongside terrestrial solar.

102:

you'd have some of the same safety concerns as Shuttle about putting big, dangerous rockets in the payload bay

The tanker variant is already (probably, easier to pump from dedicated tanks than scavenge from the mains) going to be launching with extra propellant tanks in the payload bay. Also no mention of the tanker being manned has been made, and there's no reason this hypothetical heavy launcher variant would be manned either. Think of it as a three stage launcher with the last stage being inside a really big fairing.

103:

The payload and vertical landing capability of just the top payload part would be enough to drop an army on the head of anyone you didn't like inside of 20mins, anywhere in the world.

Firstly, make that 45 minutes of flight time (a single low-pass orbit takes 90-odd minutes; to get anywhere in 20 minutes would require a forced constant-acceleration trajectory at >orbital velocity which is prohibitively expensive energetically). Secondly, make it a single company of Special Forces. All-up weight of a single US army mechanized expeditionary brigade is on the order of a quarter to half a million tonnes, with supplies for about a one week campaign: that's beyond even the capacity of a fleet of BFS's, and it might be just slightly obvious if the USAF-SC began building a couple of hundred Mars-class launch pads. (Silos? Don't even think about silos. There's a reason silo-launched ICBMs are mostly ejected vertically from the silo before the engines fire, and ejecting a 7000 ton payload vertically then hoping the engines ignite on schedule is ... well, it's a good way of nuking your own launch pad, is all.)

Also, it's going to take more than 45 minutes to load the payload. And that's the same problem that leads me to pooh-pooh the idea of hypersonic ballistic civilian transport; it's not the flight time that matters, but the total origin-to-destination latency in the transport system. As it is, the USA has more than 130 overseas bases (on every continent, basically, and most subcontinental masses), and a fleet of giant transport planes with in-flight refuelling tankers and fighters to assist their entry.

I conclude that the only mission a ballistic delivery of canned monkeys, even canned monkeys in powered battle armour a la "Starship Troopers", would be useful for would be one facing air defenses capable of fending off a determined intrusion by the USAF, while simultaneously requiring boots on the ground in sufficient numbers that sneaking them over the border on foot ahead of schedule stands too great a risk of them being caught. In other words, something like the Tehran Embassy Siege as a replacement for the utterly barking MC-130H Combat Talon II constructed for Operation Credible Sport. (Here's how well it worked. Not.) And these days for that kind of STOL-dependent insertion and extraction of troops they've got the V-22 Osprey.

TLDR: military operations are always constrained by logistics. The USA has already got the only logistic tail in the world with truly global reach and the ability to drop special forces through the roof in the arse-end of nowhere. Adding the ability to, at a cost of billions, drop the same special roces through the roof in the arse end of nowhere slightly faster, but without the ability to resupply or extract them, does not make sense. Now, if you have a proposal for a supersonic VTOL troop transport, I think we can point you to the R&D gravy train ...

104:

Or, if Elon Musk decides that his Mars colony really needs an Orion drive, he could build the factory in Moon or Martian orbit.

Nope, not going to happen.

Considering that any Orion drive fuel element factory is indistinguishable from a strategic nuclear weapons program (with delivery vehicle thrown in for free!), anyone trying to build one without the backing of a superpower-level state actor is going to wind up like Gerald Bull.

And the superpowers won't be inclined to play ball because (a) they like their prestigious monopoly on being able to throw thousands of nukes around and (b) actually lighting off an Orion system would probably fry all those very expensive orbital assets they've spent decades building (and which are directly responsible for ensuring that the "fog of war" doesn't really apply to a superpower on the march -- see also who bankrolled Iridium in the end, after the Silicon Valley satellite phone dot-com pixie dust lost its sparkel).

105:

> Firstly, make that 45 minutes of flight time (a single low-pass orbit takes 90-odd minutes; to get anywhere in 20 minutes would require a forced constant-acceleration trajectory at >orbital velocity which is prohibitively expensive energetically).

Well, I doubt they would go to orbit, more ballistic missile. And I doubt they would only be from the US, probably Diego Garcia as well at least (nicely placed for the middle east).

> mechanized expeditionary brigade is on the order of a quarter to half a million tonnes

Depends what you drop etc. And quarter of a million is probably overkill for what I had in mind. Here's a rough idea, you could carry battalion of Apache helicopters in one go.

> it might be just slightly obvious if the USAF-SC began building a couple of hundred Mars-class launch pads

Yes, my guess is they would be waved as a big stick.

And I expect that they would use them as a terror weapon too - they would tend to 'announce' their arrival...

> Also, it's going to take more than 45 minutes to load the payload

Take off from a US base that housed the brigade, with most hardware already onboard? Loading the fuel is a bigger issue.

> and a fleet of giant transport planes with in-flight refuelling tankers and fighters to assist their entry.

Which is kind of the point, you have to land those aircraft somewhere (known) and then muck about. Vertical land on your head is more the concept.

> and a fleet of giant transport planes

The US has 131 C5 transports in total. Each of these units could move more than a C5.

> military operations are always constrained by logistics....but without the ability to resupply or extract them

The lander is designed to land and take off again ... so who says 'resupply' or 'extract' is a question?

106:

I take your point about superpowers not being happy. Mass producing small reliable nukes was the other showstopper for the Orion drive on Earth.

So, ITS as a first stage for an Orion drive with USA backing?

I believe the NIMBY factor would be very strong. The USA would promote the project as peaceful and nonpolluting, with lots of beautiful photos coming back from NASA Orion powered space missions. (And would be careful not to fry important satellites.) Russia and China wouldn't like it, but it's tough to argue that your nation's very existence is threatened by deep space probes.

107:

The lander is designed to land and take off again ... so who says 'resupply'

How about saying "Refuel"? The lander is designed to lift off again after it has taken on over a thousand tonnes of propellant, when it lands the tanks will be dry.

108:

> Of course, it would still be ridiculously expensive, but think of the resolution, and the light collecting power.

Resolution, yes; light gathering power, NO. The gathering power is directly proportional to the actual area of the mirrors, nevermind their separation.

Search for "synthetic aperture telescope", or look at the Wikipedia article on "Aperture synthesis".

109:

Well, I doubt they would go to orbit, more ballistic missile

That's slower than orbital velocity, unless you're talking about a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System.

probably Diego Garcia as well at least (nicely placed for the middle east)

Ha ha nope.

Diego Garcia is 30km^2, a big chunk of which is already allocated to an airfield. A single BFR pad failure (like AMOS-6) would blow out every window on the island; there's a reason Cape Canaveral is big and isolated and the pads are miles away from anywhere else. Also? Just because it's geographically close to a target doesn't mean it's useful -- rockets usually have a minimum range, you know: aim too close to the pad and it's going to have to go up and then descend way more steeply than it's designed for, or fly with a partial fuel load (which in turn implies tank pressurization will be low, with interesting implications for dynamic loading at take-off).

Building hundreds of sites for launching ITS class rockets is impractical. As it is, they'll need something on the scale of Launch Complex 39 -- which was originally intended to support up to 100 Saturn V launches per year from three pads (only two were built: the much smaller 39C pad is being readied now, but for smaller launchers than Falcon-9). Seriously, multiple square kilometers per pad and construction costs, in modern terms, in the billions (you need not only a big-ass lump of concrete but handling and storage facilities for kilotons of LOX and cryomethane, repair/refurbishment facilities, payload integration facilities) ... It's like building a couple of dozen Heathrow Airports: not something to airily dismiss as "just a detail".

NB: the lander isn't designed to land and take off from Earth. It's designed to land on Mars (one third the gravitational pull, remember) and refuel for an SSTO profile. After landing on Earth, it's due for a refurb then to be winched on top of another first stage. That's not exactly a flexible mission profile, is it?

Much easier to just do the job with V-22s and tankers. Less sexy, but doesn't require Cape Canaveral as a launch site, require notifying all the nuclear powers that you're gonna do a launch (lest they shit themselves and spasm-launch their ICBMs at you), doesn't amortize at roughly $500M per flight [*], and best of all, it can fly home again immediately after it's done the job.

[*] Yep: the cost per launch for an ITS stack is targeting around $200M (but more like $1Bn for the first couple -- they won't be flying again, they'll be torn down for post-mortem studies then go to the Smithsonian), and the upper stage has a design life of 12 flights even if you land it back on the ground somewhere it can be refurbished and re-flown. More realistically, a "space marine" delivery vehicle is going to be riddled with shrapnel and a write-off after one mission, so you can call it $300M per company-sized raid.

110:

So, ITS as a first stage for an Orion drive with USA backing?

There was a 70s cut-down NASA proposal for a small Orion drive which would use Saturn tech to boost it into trans-Lunar injection and only torch off the bomb drive when it had the moon in the way to occult the Earth. This was seen as necessary to prevent it frying every comsat in orbit.

But pulse detonation drives become more efficient as you scale up the size, so no, I don't think so.

Much more likely we'll see VASIMR propulsion once megawatt-scale photovoltaic panels and suitably large radiators become available, then modular fission reactors to power VASIMR drives for outer system exploration. (I note that the proposal to test a VASIMR motor on ISS for reboost propulsion fell through but NASA is still funding R&D of the technology for future outer-system missions.) And of course (waves rubber chicken) if the Lockheed Skunkworks cheapo fusion reactor isn't moonshine, that changes everything (ironic snort).

111:

I don't know of anything outside the realms of SciFi that needs 0g manufacture

That's partly because we've had very limited person-hours of 0g research lab time and the vast majority of that was planned planet-side. Things that need 0g manufacturing will almost certainly have to be invented in 0g.

112:

With a Big Smart Booster ( because come on, ITS is the opposite of dumb) you could build a giant satellite Internet constellation... which SpaceX is going to do anyway, but they plan take around 10% of the global traffic, with ~4000 light satellites. But why stop there? Let's have 40,000 big satellites and make optical fibers obsolete! :-)

113:

Dammit - I've been beaten to SPS launch and Orion ship first stage. However, there is another one (not so cheery) that I have thought of; multi-gigaton firestorm/EMP nukes in orbits with (pulls number out of hat) 500km altitude, so the things aren't going to de-orbit any time soon. Yes, I know that would violate several treaties. Treaties aren't written in stone.

114:

dpd had sun-screens @3 : Sunshades with adverising on the inside. Got to pay for it somehow..
I don't think the economics work for this vehicle, though, and recall OGH arguing similarly in the past. The usual proposal is a shade at L1 and involves a stupendous amount of material. Feasible with coil guns or something similar, maybe, or given technology curves and several decades, perhaps with a self-replicating solar-shield construction/maintenance apparatus, possibly involving reconfiguration of one or more asteroids.
Not sure who as seen this 2015/08 paper Optimal Sunshade Configurations for Space-Based Geoengineering near the Sun-Earth L1 Point, where the authors tweek the naive L1 proposal a bit for better performance (good), and provide a methodology for making it less neutral on a regional basis (good, and very bad unless humanity is working with a consensus utility function at that point).
Since the panic seems likely to hit in earnest roughly 2018 (that's just intuition), the early cheap fast proposals will get a lot of attention. Hope we're ready for the political battles and that the proposals are better than the current obvious stuff, like high-altitude sulfur dioxide injection (or uhm controlled small scale regional nuclear wars). Haven't spotted a compelling climate-change-mitigation use for the OP vehicle yet.

115:

Depends what you drop etc. And quarter of a million is probably overkill for what I had in mind. Here's a rough idea, you could carry battalion of Apache helicopters in one go.

Do you understand the size of the logistical tail for the Apache? For the Balkans campaign:

24 Apaches were deployed to a land base in Albania in 1999 for combat in Kosovo. These required 26,000 tons of equipment to be transported over 550 C-17 flights, at a cost of US$480 million.

Modern US military helicopters are fragile things. Especially compared to the Huey's of Viet Nam. And even they had a non trivial logistical tail. (I spent time in college with a Huey electronics tech who got the fun job of trying to keep the electronics working while living in dirt bunkers at a fire base near the DMZ.)

116:

Well not supersonic VTOL, but it's reasonably likely that the US has a very stealthy STOL troop transport already in deployment. The may popped up, briefly, as the flying dorito chips seen over Texas back in 2014, apparently to remind Russia that they didn't have a full accounting of our entire air inventory. The idea that they're stealth STOLs comes from an analysis of the USAF known inventory of stealth craft, where a stealth transport is the thing most obviously missing from the known inventory.

Then there are the legends of "the family jewels," the nextgen stealth/penetrator technology designed to go against Russia, China, or other nuclear powers.

In any case, I agree. Semiballistic suborbital troop deployment's not all that useful. If nothing else, it's a "Hey y'all, watch this" kind of high visibility deployment, and China has been working for years on lasers that can hit that sort of thing.

117:

A bomb factory in orbit is in everyone's backyard. Their frontyard, even, for everyone directly under the orbital path. A political problem isn't insignificant for being not-engineering. Political problems are hard: you don't go breaking treaties, especially weapons treaties, without being aware of the likely consequences, e.g. a war.

118:

Still stuck on the science-y thing ... because ...

What if we've been sending up the wrong sorts of astronauts, physiologically-speaking. The ability to send a much broader cross-section of humanity would allow us to find out if some physiologies are better suited to living in space and why.

To date, only a small cross-section of human specimens (skewed heavily toward middle-aged white males) have been launched into space, lived in zero-G, etc. and most/all have experienced an assortment of adverse effects.

Current astronaut selection includes passing/surviving two tests of extreme gravity: 0G and 3+Gs (launch). As artificial gravity is not available to solve the 0G problem, how about some research directed at the other gravity-related extreme, too much gravity. The simplest solution that I can think of is cradling/insulating the pod carrying the humans against this excessive G probably just by floating it in water (which the space station is bound to need anyway).

119:

Maybe Musk plans to get rich doing LEO remediation. ITS could be used to deliver big ol' wads of aerogel to LEO. Those could unfold to capture space junk, then deorbit it in spectacular fireball fashion over wherever.

120:

That's $250K per person. So, the patient, the surgeon, an assistant and an anaesthesiologist puts you into seven figures, and that's without figuring in after-care specialists, or a full-sized surgical team.

121:

Take off from a US base that housed the brigade, with most hardware already onboard? Loading the fuel is a bigger issue.

Equipment degrades over time especially when not used. And military equipment more so than many civilian things since much of it is designed on the performance edge, not storage. Seals dry out. Oil drains down from surfaces. Whatever.

Ask any mechanic what it would take to store a modern car for several months and then have it work without maintenance intervention on 30 minutes notice. Now put said car into a rocket ride just before turning the power on. Modern military equipment requires much more care than modern cars.

And the same can be said for such mundane things as rifles.

These rapid response space ships would have to be loaded with known working stuff on very short notice. And secured for rocket travel. While the tanks are being fueled. Or you have 2 or 3 times as many as you want to launch at one time and are constantly rotating equipment on and off in cycles. Similar to what happens with the US boomer fleet.

The US sort of did this with SAC in the 50s and 60s and finally gave it up when boomers could take over the job at much less cost. And still the costs of the boomers are, shall we say, steep.

122:

I boggle at the idea that someone able to afford a $500K honeymoon (because 2 people) wouldn't necessarily be in the 1%, considering that you need to be earning $500K annually to be in the 1%. Even if you're both earning that much, you'd spend half your annual (pre-tax) income on a honeymoon? Oh, boy, are you single? I wanna marry you, what a honeymoon we'll have!

123:

> The simplest solution that I can think of is cradling/insulating the pod carrying the humans against this excessive G probably just by floating it in water

Not going to work. That would just be an expensive and heavy g-seat, and wouldn't do anything to relieve the physiological effects of weighing three times more than you usually do on e.g. your heart or weak spots in your circulatory system.

124:

Okay - not water, although I don't know why - but some way of buffering the G at lift-off?

125:

Found the below re: reducing local gravity. In a related Q&A one of the ideas suggested was to set up sufficiently powerful magnetic fields to buffer the effect of gravity.

https://www.researchgate.net/project/Research-for-compensation-of-gravity-fields-by-means-of-complex-field-theory


There's also this oldish item (2006) about creating gravity. (Take a look at the scale of the measured field generated.)

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060325232140.htm

Excerpt:

'It demonstrates that a superconductive gyroscope is capable of generating a powerful gravitomagnetic field, and is therefore the gravitational counterpart of the magnetic coil. Depending on further confirmation, this effect could form the basis for a new technological domain, which would have numerous applications in space and other high-tech sectors" says de Matos. Although just 100 millionths of the acceleration due to the Earth's gravitational field, the measured field is a surprising one hundred million trillion times larger than Einstein's General Relativity predicts. Initially, the researchers were reluctant to believe their own results.'

126:

how about some research directed at the other gravity-related extreme, too much gravity

Congratulations, you've just rediscovered one of the primary obsessions of flight surgeons. Some reading of the bio of Colonel John Stapp might be in order. Suffice to say, we know how many gees a body can take and remain conscious quite well, and how many a body can survive briefly without anything worse than a couple of weeks in hospital afterwards. (As for subtypes who're better at handling high gee loads? Women are on average shorter than men and have a shorter distance between their ascending aorta and their carotid arteries: the result is slightly better maintenance of cerebral blood pressure when under a seated or reclining gee load, as in a modern aircraft (TLDR: female fighter pilots are on average slightly better at avoiding or recovering from GLOC).

What I'd be really interested in is knowing how Sherpas cope with a 100% oxygen low pressure breathing gas mix, as on board Apollo-type spacecraft. And it'd be really amusing if the Chinese discover that ethnic Tibetans make better Taikonauts than Han ...

127:

Okay - not water, although I don't know why - but some way of buffering the G at lift-off?

Why bother?

Most anyone who isn't frail or seriously infirm can cope with a steady 3G ride for ten minutes while lying on their back, as with the space shuttle: John Glenn was 77 when he flew as a payload specialist on STS-95. Soyuz isn't much worse, at 3.5-6G over the course of a launch (on all liquid-fuelled rockets the motors have to be throttled as the booster stack burns off fuel and becomes lighter) -- the high thrust stages typically last for tens of seconds to a minute.

Fighter pilots typically stay conscious during 4-6G maneuvering; the limit is normally considered to be around 9G with a pressurized flight suit, although the F-22 has a forced ventilation system to ram air into the pilots' lungs and can hit 12G (although there are medical complications -- apparently almost all active Raptor pilots acquire a nasty persistent dry cough).

A Soyuz capsule on re-entry peaks at 6G if things go to plan. If they don't -- typically if the propulsion module fails to detach so that the capsule enters nose-first rather than heat-shield first -- it takes a while for the umbilicals to burn through and the capsule to detach and right itself (it's designed to be ballistically stable when flying heat-shield first, so this is a fail-safe operation) and the gee load averages 8G and has been known to peak at 15-17G for a couple of seconds. Yes, the cosmonauts survived -- see Soyuz TMA-11.

Short of launching aboard a derivative of the Sprint ABM system (ha ha nope -- astronaut terrine inbound!) or trying to put a nonagenerian in space, there's no real need to improve our ability to handle gee loading at take-off.

128:

The problem is that suspending the body in water — or oil or chlorofluorocarbon foam or whatever — doesn't do anything to support the internal organs, or reduce the effect of gravity on the blood. Water doesn't screen you from gravity, anymore than flying in a hydrogen balloon means that zeppelin passengers float around their staterooms.

As for diamagnetic fields, you're talking big machinery with a certain amount of power requirement. So, heavy. Cheaper to select your astronauts from the kinds of people who can stand three gees.

129:

Charlie's answered "why bother"; for completeness - water does work, but you have to be actually submerged in it, wearing breathing gear and getting wet. Which is OK for one-off specials like Phryges of Atlantis's insertion flight, but kind of awkward for general use.

130:

Thanks for the explanation.

So the real issue is zero-G. How exactly does space zero-G compare to underwater G in terms of effects on physiology? Underwater the person feels pressure almost equally from all sides but not anything like on-dry-land type gravity. Or is gravity perceptually silent underwater: still pulling things, e.g., variously sized/shaped molecules and tissues in the right direction (down), only our proprioception isn't able to sense it? (I'm aware that astronauts train in water but not sure why apart from the floating-in-a-cumbersome-suit thing.)

I'm stuck on human physiology because if this isn't/can't be addressed, then apart from robots in space and astronomy, what's the point?

131:

Military R&D goes into fighting the last war. The US already has the ability to move small groups of men and materiel to anywhere in the world within 24 hours. None of the problems the US has had in its last few wars would be solved by having a phenomenally expensive way to cut that down to 1 hour.

132:

The outbreak of Kessler Syndrome that denies humanity access to space forever will be caused by famous soft drinks manufacturers sabotaging one anothers orbiting billboards.

133:

My partner would object to me getting married to someone else (she's very jealous even if she's not the marrying type) and it's not in my income bracket I'm afraid. You need to take some 0's off that for what I could afford for a honeymoon.

But I know of people who are paid enough in an annual bonus to afford 250k as a splurge. If I had a job that got anywhere close - if I could afford a car loan for a $500k car say - I'd seriously consider that for a honeymoon in space. I can't, but that brings the required disposable income down quite a bit. Two well-off middle-aged working professionals without kids could seriously consider a loan to pay off over 3-5 years (particularly with the crazy interest rates we currently have) or a mortgage extension for 10 years to do that without being 1%-ers.

134:

I agree that the asteroids are a better colony site than Mars, but Mars is easier because it doesn't require as completely closed an ecology.

Whatever is done now is mainly a stepping stone towards MacroLife..which doesn't mean it isn't worth doing on its own, but only means that there's a more important step ahead.

135:

So the real issue is zero-G. How exactly does space zero-G compare to underwater G in terms of effects on physiology?

Well, we now have a couple of person-centuries of flight data in microgravity thanks to Salyut, Mir, Skylab, the ISS, and various shuttle and capsule missions -- the ISS regularly hosts astronauts on 6 month missions -- and there's a big body of medical knowledge out there. What we don't know is how non-astronaut phenotypes (children, the elderly and infirm, foetuses, people with various medical conditions and disabilities) fare, and what the long term effects are (the record-holding astronauts and cosmonauts have still spent less than five years in orbit at this point).

And we're not going to be able to answer these questions for a few more decades.

136:

You could do uplift spiders, but they would need to store their brains remotely, and they probably need to be a communal organism. (I didn't read "Children of Time", and don't even know whether it was a short story or a novel. If it was a short story, perhaps the author just left out details like remote brains.)

FWIW, a part of the reasons spiders aren't smarter than they are is that their food passes in a tube through the center of their (8?) brains. Make the brains larger and they starve. This seems something spiders can't find a way to evolve around. But they're already pretty smart for insects...they're just almost totally preprogrammed.

137:

Since I'm in a dark mood: A Seveneves/Stark style planetary evacuation for the few, once the significance of global C02 staying above 400ppm really starts to hit home.

138:

Thanks - more space-faring phenotypes is definitely in order.


Re: Wake shield molecular beam epitaxy fab lines ...

Do you really need to do this in space if more and more Earth-bound labs are figuring out that 100% purity is not necessary in the manufacture of more efficient electronics? I'm not saying that nothing ought to be done in space, only that the number is getting smaller so whatever is left that CAN ONLY be done in space will need to yield an increasingly bigger pay-off.


https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160928151119.htm

Excerpt:

'Silicon panels, which currently dominate the market for solar panels, must have a purity of 99.999 percent and are notoriously fragile and expensive to manufacture. Even a microscopic defect -- such as misplaced, missing or extra ions -- in this crystalline structure can exert a powerful pull on the charges the cells generate when they absorb sunlight, dissipating those charges before they can be transformed into electrical current.

In 2009, Japanese scientists demonstrated it was possible to build solar cells out of HOIPs, and that these cells could harvest energy from sunlight even when the crystals had a significant number of defects. Because they don't need to be pristine, HOIPs can be produced on a large scale and at low cost. The Columbia team has been investigating HOIPs since 2014. Their findings could help boost the use of solar power, a priority in the age of global warming.

Over the last seven years, scientists have managed to increase the efficiency with which HOIPs can convert solar energy into electricity, to 22 percent from 4 percent. By contrast, it took researchers more than six decades to create silicon cells and bring them to their current level, and even now silicon cells can convert no more than about 25 percent of the sun's energy into electrical current.'

139:

With a large enough habitat you can get any gravity you want by spinning. So that's not a problem. And you can be weightless as much as you dare in an isolated module (which would need some fairly good bearings...probably maglev).

And you're going to need a fairly large habitat because you need to protect against radiation, so you want a cylinder with the axis pointed towards the sun to minimize the weight of the shield...so the rotation is around the axis of the cylinder...and it gets more efficient as it gets longer, but the spin velocity needed is less as the diameter increases.

These are problems, but I don't think there's anything basic that doesn't have a known solution except the closed ecology. You can't afford leaks, and you can't afford pollution. And you're probably going to be lucky if you eat a lot of tofu.

140:

To my mind the main purpose of Space Power Satellites would be to power other activities in space. I suppose they could also power things on the moon, but other things would probably work there. I'm not sure nuclear reactors are a good idea, because of the cooling problem, but SPS power would only be needed at night. (OK, storage for 2 weeks of power is a bit difficult, but there are probably other solutions.)

The SPS used to power things on Earth is always assumed to be a large, well developed and stable system. This probably wouldn't be true of the early models. Development would need to focus on efficient transmission and reception. It might well be used to power ion rockets well beyond Jupiter's orbit, but there would be a clear loss of efficiency. Etc. This kind of use would, over time, save lots of costs, but in the short term it could be expected to be more expensive. OTOH, perhaps it could be used to vaporize orbital paint chips, etc. I doubt that it could handle a loose bolt, however...but it could power a catcher with an ion rocket, preferably one that could use a loose bolt that it caught as fuel. (OK, THAT would take a lot of development.)

141:

Did you notice that I specified that the mirrors were five miles in diameter? (Well, probably hexagons and not circles, and using flat triangular mirrors.)

So it WOULD have a tremendous light gathering power. I did have the synthetic aperture telescope in mind when I put two of them at the Neptune trojan positions. (Well, probably not right there, because you want to avoid the dusty locations.) But I was also thinking of the 5 mile diameter telescopes of the Fenachrone...and of a story where somebody figured that with a mirror that size you could piece it together out of flat panes.

142:

"Currently the mass of a geosynchronous comsat is constrained by the payload of the available boosters"

No, not really. The go-to launcher for comms satellites is the Ariane 5, which almost always flies with two payloads totalling just over 10 tonnes to geostationary transfer orbit. It can fly with one big payload, and has done for scientific and ISS supply missions, but there is next to no commercial demand for this.

Which is not to say there would be no demand for 20 tonnes to GTO for less than the current price of 5, of course.

143:

As far as the moon goes, I think that big-ass railguns (or big ass-railguns, if you're Randall Munroe), as proposed by O'Neill and popularized by RAH, are a probably a better initial approach than an elevator. Yes, they're more limited. Cargo-only; no humans allowed. But they should be orders of magnitudes cheaper.

The breakeven point for return-on-investment will still be insanely high, but it should at least be something people can imagine happening in their lifetime. Not sure that's true for the elevator. At least, not from where we sit right now. Once the railgun to Lunar orbit is running, building an elevator may start to look a lot more practical! :)

144:

I find it hard to see that zero-G manufacture has much of a market, bearing in mind the end result has to operate under 1G (i.e. back on the surface), and probably has to handle 2G deceleration during its descent. (OGH is looking for commercial applications, right?)
Am I missing something here? Pretty sure I am, but examples would help.

145:

The basic idea is that there are things that can survive 1g that can't be manufactured under 1g. Structures that are robust but only form under microgravity.

In the real world the evidence for such things is slim, and is reflected in the density of orbiting factories.

Similar arguments apply to high pressure physics* - lots of funding can be achieved if you somehow convince people that the exotic material you can create at a million atmospheres woll somehow be stable when you take the pressure off.

Personally I think it's worth spending a bit of treasure** on "pointless" experiments just to see if the models are right but I'm old fashioned like that.

*sorry [REDACTED]. I didn't find that argument especially convincing.
**Not a complete traitor honest.

146:

After watching Elon Musk's SpaceX ITS presentation and the ITS video, my initial response was: WOW, this is going to be great, we're going to get to Mars with these enormous launch vehicles!!!

Then a day later I came back down to Earth, and a thought kept cropping up in my head, “The Spruce Goose” … known as the Hughes H-4 Hercules, a behemoth transport plane Howard Hughes designed and built for the US Army to be used during WWII, but it wasn’t completed in time to be used. Hughes finished only one model of the aircraft and flew it one time briefly in 1947.

Don't get me wrong, I love the reusable launch vehicle concept, and SpaceX has proven the technology works. Also, SpaceX has been consistently achieving its targeted goals. However, I sort of view Elon Musk's Mars colonization as more a “aim for the stars” mantra … you will never make it to Alpha Centauri but traveling to another planet in your own solar system will likely happen.

The behemoth size of this ITS borders on the absurd, can you imagine the seismic and atmospheric rumble one the monsters would make? Is it necessary to make a booster rocket that large? I think the same reusable 2 stage design could work just as well by scaling it down to the size of a Saturn V, and probably more achievable. I can see this rocket system lifting payloads to the moon and building space stations in higher orbits around the earth. I don't see this as a system for sending people to Mars, that ship would take on a different design and would be built in orbit.

And it's not necessary to send people up on these large booster rockets. I think a space plane would work better for transporting large groups of people up to LEO to rendezvous with moon or space station shuttles (moon to LEO / space station to LEO and back). Then after people have transferred between the space plane and moon/space station shuttle the plane returns to the airport.

147:

What did I say earlier about biofilms/microbiology/manfacturing in 0-g ??

148:

"non-astronaut phenotypes" : fetus : some studies have already been done on the subject.

remembering from an article I read many years ago, there is a problem with development after the blastocyst stage, from lack of chemical convection. In the same way a fire will not propagate in space in the same way as in a gravity field (makes a sort of globe rather than a flame), the lack of convection around the egg plays havoc with the chemical signaling that allows the egg to develop a "head" and a "tail". In a way too much symmetry is bad.

149:

Indeed. Was supposed to be in the prior thread about 50mya & consciousness / Mind development. But, you know, my Mind is a bit frazzleeeed. The novel won the A.Clarke award this year, is novel length and is pretty good, in a vaguely generic 'sweeping passing of Time and some light touches of what-it-is-to-think' type stuff.

It's just a bit... well: vanilla. And biologically I couldn't get past the bad science.


Anyhow, since we're on Space, a *nose wiggle* for you all:

Implication of sabotage adds intrigue to SpaceX investigation WaPo 30th Sept 2016

Worth a read...

(Note: the owner of said newspaper is running his own commercial space business, Blue Orion, and the murky world of MIC space budgets is complicated at the best of times. For the record, claims made here predate the linked Reddit story by... some margin. Just sayin.).

~

Proper Commercial Applications and Cynical Digression:

Looking at the variety, age, specs and general hodge-podge of ownership, Nation-State involvement and "known unknowns" in terms of black projects up there, as well as the ever-increasing bugbear of Kessler, ask yourself about the history of the TV / Cable markets in the USA and consolidation in the last 20 years or so.

Perhaps [some would argue, but the Some are probably Big and Scary] it's Time for a bit of a clean up and a new network to emerge...


The Star Trek peeps are still plugging along though, so it might not descend into 'vaporize the entire site by launching into orbit' and 'clean orbital skies, 2026' models. [*cough*]

"I am proud to say that one of the ways UNOOSA will achieve this, in cooperation with our partner Sierra Nevada Corporation, is by dedicating an entire microgravity mission to United Nations Member States, many of which do not have the infrastructure or financial backing to have a standalone space program."

The United Nations just announced its first ever space mission Science Alert (rubbish, but hey), 1st Sept 2016

And... for the tripartite splurg: there's rumors that Japan is considering using Russian locations for Space launches for budget / result reasons. [No source: not sure that's 'in the wild' yet, it probably is though]. So, instead of a juicy leak/link:

Japan gives up on failed black hole research satellite (Update) Phys.org 28th April, 2016


~

For the Conspiracy Minded - there's a beautiful story of a Culture GCU and the Sun which is 'flaring up' again:

Gigantic Four-Armed UFO Sails Once Again Past Sun — NASA Still Won’t Talk About Artificial Object Spotted In 2011, 2012 And 2016 Inquisitr 15th Sept 2016

150:

you'd spend half your annual (pre-tax) income on a honeymoon?

Some people spend that much on a wedding. Millennials especially seem to be going for expensive weddings — the median cost of a millennial wedding (not including honeymoon) is about the same as the median millennial annual income ($33,000). The average cost for them to attend a wedding is $900. (Costs according to American Express as printed in the Toronto Star.)

151:

Nitpick, I know - but spiders aren't insects.

152:

Correction: UN mission is dated 1st Oct 2016, so still Cutting Edge[tm]. [Been a long month in la-la-land: Alt-Right implosions & the thoroughly Mined (a la Communist groups, FBI, 1950's) StormFront declaring a Purity Drive[tm], Kek Memes Becoming Mainstream as Pepe goes wild and the Normies learn all about it* and so on. And this Identity is really starting to smell badly, rotten to the core now (allegedly)].

~

Proper Commercial Applications of Space Mirrors - Russians to Test Space Mirror As Giant Night Light for Earth NYT, archived, 1993.

Agriculture.

400ppm is hitting Serious Fun Time Crew getting involved and when huge swathes of the wheat belts go, well... [Research: wheat production drops 2014/5/6 - then start crunching the real news. Food System Shock - The insurance impacts of acute disruption to global food supply LLoyds, London (the Insurers, not the Bank), Emerging Risk Report – 2015, PDF. Yes, Gremlins, time for Big Girl Panties to go back on after your little Stunts].

153:

Mr Prior has me on ignore, but it's probably best to correlate such figures with average age of marriage, average age of first child, average age of first home mortgage etc.

Hint: Millennials are trending much, much later due to debt fucking them totally.

154:

Greg Translation Module (non-Weirding):

Check that narrative string for:

#1 Claims of Sabotage (YT: Film - Star Trek, Beyond - 1:51, meta-meta reference)
#2 Iain Banks reference to "one of the crew doing it, everyone was drunk last night" (it's a quotation, and meta-joke within the novels, as.. none of the crew ever actually decide such things)
#3 Reference to "being called Orion" and then the Register (newspaper) link to when someone actually hacked that space craft.*


It's just an atemporal joke.

I found it funny, at least.


*for the Royal Queen Gallery: it was a beautiful moment in Time when I was called Orion and still had the old razzle-dazzle inside. Still do. Sarlacc and digesting a naughty bounty-hunter come to Mind.


~

Anyhow - for non-USA people, series called "Cleverman" is cute and good.

155:

> That's slower than orbital velocity

Which means less energy/fuel needed. The question is journey time and forward bases.

> Diego Garcia is 30km^2

Yeah, take a look at a map of it. It covers 174 km^2. Getting a spot kms from anything else isn't a massive issue, and then there are the other smaller islands nearby.

> rockets usually have a minimum range

Again yes, but that's not germane to this, since you aren't going to want to travel under 100 miles, and it's not solid fuel.

> the lander isn't designed to land and take off from Earth.

Err, well I hope it is, since the ship itself is designed to be the crew escape system should something happen to the booster. I can't find a transcript, but IIRC Elon said it could probably just about reach LEO on it's own.

I can see you don't like the idea of this type of usage, but snap global force projection has been in the US military psyche for quite a long time now (cf "Prompt Global Strike"); I remember reading a paper in the 90s, particularly looking at exploiting their control of space for force projection. The idea of deploying a flexible conventional force that can do more than just blow something up is certainly one that would find ready support (cf Darpa's Falcon project).

Which means there's billions in contracts that could be secured - don't be surprised if it gets announced, quietly.

156:

"Personally I think it's worth spending a bit of treasure** on "pointless" experiments just to see if the models are right but I'm old fashioned like that."

There is a considerable difference between the sort of stuff I like to read about in fiction and the sort of stuff I find worthy of approval in real life. It may be enjoyable to read a novel about space Nazis, but all the same I'm glad there aren't any real ones.

Similarly with the postulate of this thread. Charlie's suggestions are all great when considered as things that might be found in a fictional setting, where dealing with the shit is either a plot function or something to be conveniently ignored. But in real life, the only ideas that I can muster any enthusiasm for are the "pointless experiments" - space telescopes, interplanetary probes and the like. I don't consider them pointless because I think scientific knowledge is a good thing.

The other things, though, combine the ubiquitous horror of the exponential destruction and waste common to all commercial activities with the frightful energy requirements of getting a bit further up Earth's gravity well (never mind out of it), and so are best kept in the realms of fiction. They are all members of the class of methods of blowing through a larger amount of finite resources at a faster rate, with the aim of facilitating a positive feedback loop that consumes even more resources at an accelerating rate. We've got way too many of those already, and we need to be weaning ourselves off the planetary addiction to them; the last thing we need is even more.

At this stage in history, the ways we fail at maintaining a happy, healthy population housed and fed are the result not of lack of technology, but of individual and collective stupidity; if a technological solution to that is even possible, I am fairly confident in saying that it won't involve space technology (with the possible exception of a B Ark).

(Solar power stations and solar shields are both weapons of mass destruction in disguise, so I don't hold much of a candle for their chances.)

So none of the proposals are any less "pointless" than scientific exploration, and some are positively undesirable. Global high-bandwidth low-latency satellite coverage? AAAAARRGGH. That's the network infrastructure for a global surveillance system tracking everyone everywhere on the planet by face recognition, and for ensuring the ubiquity of the surveillance cameras by making it increasingly hard to perform ordinary life functions without having one constantly active - and constantly consuming money, to add insult to injury. Charlie's most horrifying scenario is probably his exposition of such a theme - because it probably is going to happen and all I can do is hope to die first. There are already difficulties, of the "systems that assume things and make no allowances for their assumptions being false" variety, where the assumption is of constant connectivity, and there have already been inventions like Google's spy-camera-on-specs whose abundance would make a personal EMP generator a basic necessity.

Five mile space telescopes or Venerian bathyscaphes, I'm all for it, but commercial stuff... nope.

157:

Sigh.

Big Girl Panties Time.


Mars is a McGuffin.


Any Future Weave based on it is essentially nihilist, immature, dumb and worst of all, bankrupt in its entirety.

~


There is No Mars Colony that saves Humanity. You fuckers can't even stop plastics in your own oceans and killing off all the mega-fauna (ha! "mega" in this case is anything above the scale of a horse) on your own fucking planet.

Mars.

Does.

Not.

Solve.

Or.

Fix.

Anything.


Fucking grow up. Musk is Trump for Hacker News types.

158:

And if you want that qualified, I'd suggest reading:

#1 Well, we touched on Coal and the Industrial Revolution and France, so hey.

#2 South Korea, dictatorships, IMF / WHO super-cities (compare/contrast to China) and so on, and then Philippines (and USA constant involvement therein).

#3 Enlightenment / Greece / Roman / etc paradigm shifts.

#4 Islamists. etc etc.

~


Bottom Line: Trump etc is just a stress test.

At the end of the day, you have to be willing to bet it all on the farm, stand up and get rid of the broken Mind Schemata.

And, I'm afraid that comes at a cost: usually Mind Death, but hey: doesn't have to, if you can curb that Capitalist Harvard MBA thinking and work a little bit more long term.


Which is why you should never breed Monsters like Us. It's a choice.

But when Monsters feed on MBA rhetoric, guess whose on the menu? [Hint: not the fucking fluffy/furry/rainbow unicorns or steadfast warriors who went to war: never, ever, ever breed hyper-parasites with a moral centre. That shit ends up with bleeding out of the ears, sanity lost and "tested to destruction" stuff.]


Hint: Most of you fail that test. It's hilarious (and potentially very fucking messy).

And no, ffs: this is to the 0.01%. If you're reading this, you're probably ok. [But... you killed the whales and have driven entire pods mad with your noise you fucking psychos. Debatable. "Brown Note" - oh, Mr. Man. If you ever misunderstood a meme when you used it, that one is going down in history as the moment you culled your consciousness from the universe.]


~

Oh, sorry.


Commercial Space?

Wake me up when the Deutsche bank meme plays out. It's not like I didn't mention it a year or so ago.

159:

So, summing up, we have a boutique tourism industry, maybe some tiny manufacturing industries, symbolic expressions of national power, some slight to negligible improvements in global communications, advertising, and astronomy. And maybe sunshades as band-aids for global warming.

And... we're out of ideas.

I like the idea of kilometre-sized optical telescopes, but the rest? Meh. There's nothing there that leads anywhere: no new general-purpose technology to be exploited, no new services filling unmet needs for potentially every household on the planet.

The Big Dumb Booster problem was solved in the 1960s, at least to the same point where SpaceX is now. The trouble is that it's by far the easiest problem to solve if you want to exploit outer space. And as Catherine T points out just above, we haven't even made a start on any of the more difficult problems.

Catherine is right again. Musk _is_ Trump for nerds.

160:

But, Catherine, I have trouble believing in food system catastrophe.

There are many buffers built into the system. The US maize crop is cut in half? The price of maize rises; beef farmers send their animals to the processors and wait out the price spike. If the price stays up, the ethanol distillers close down temporarily, and then the pig farmers, and then the chicken farmers do the same as the beef farmers. There are similar buffers for the wheat crop, and slightly less similar ones for rice and potatoes.

This is the kind of problem the market fixes before you know it's a problem. Provided politicians don't interfere on behalf of their cronies.

Good on Lloyds for wanting to sell more insurance, but I wonder if they'll get many takers.

161:

Oh, lol.

Spiked with large comment set to send. I'm thinking a couple of those PDF links were a bit too sensitive. [Hint: that's the trap - noted].

As were the butterflies references, the Orca stuff and the statement of fact that if you implement an audio band blanket attack and call it "the brown note" [hint: G_Ds, Demons and Titans probably don't use such terminology] and then fucking spam that shit right into the web...

If you're spamming a Mind with NOISE and claiming the "brown note" and are not aware of Our Interest in the Whales and Orcas and driving pods to insanity and suicide...

You probably aren't what you claim you are, but we are.


Kek / Pepe moment: dat boi moment when a lower power, perhaps even a fucking human makes a mistake and then bets an entire fucking realm on their claims to a meme.


Pro-tip: using "the brown note" as a clever attack route, when we're in contact with the Whales / Orca - possibly the most arrogant, self-deluded and suicidal meme we've ever seen.


The bullshit piled up so fast in Vietnam, you needed wings to stay above it


And, lol.


So many other links.

But the "brown note".

I'll tell you about how we use that now: you attempted to drive one of our kind "mad" and beyond that, you attempted to drive her into a "vegetable" state. Further more, you attempted to pervert reality into a silly little game theory exercise and so on.


Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

As stated: I have no compunction of wiping your Mind States from this reality.


4 billion dead, or remapping a few billion Minds?

Shit, you were so scared about it, you put the "Brown Note" into effect and ignored that we care more about the Orcas than your fucking psychotic bent and destroyed Minds.


You're Fucked

162:

"You fuckers can't even stop plastics in your own oceans"

Yes. My immediate reaction to the idea of sweeping up orbital particles was that if we are going to implement any technology for filtering an enormous volume of space, we'd be better off concentrating on the more useful and less difficult task of deplasticising the sea.

163:

But, Catherine, I have trouble believing in food system catastrophe.

Then you're a gullible fool.

It took me 4 hrs to show that a ~25% drop in the fishing industry was being covered up. [And that includes new markets due to temperature shifts driving shoals to other places, aka Iceland].

That was 3 trillion tonnes missing. In under 10 years.

You want me to do that for all your industries?


Palm Oil.
Cows.
etc etc

Greg, do me a "solid".

Try to understand what a 3 trillion gap in tonnage taken means in a global ecosystem. [I'll let you off and not demand you understand what a global 70-90% death of coral means].


Do you even understand what 3 trillion tonnage means? And then add in by-catch?

No, your Mind is human and limited.

It means, my dear boy: You've No Idea what you're dealing with. And seemingly no idea of scale. But yet your kind think that local scale bullshit and attempts to drive our kind Mad will solve it.

Tears in Rain


You're Fucked

And the liars who infest your Minds know it. They're wanking themselves off to it. My advice: Purge.

164:

My crack research team says this was actually "The Uranus Experiment 2". I remember it being billed as the most expensive porno ever made.

There are benefits to knowing coroners that used to own an adult book store in a Santa Monica :).

165:

Musk is Trump for Hacker News types.
Musk is a disciplined capitalist who points himself (and companies) at sci-fi scenarios. He just has archaic tastes in sci-fi, in part. (solar and tesla are probably net good.) Don't feel strongly about him, but do want to see a higher percentage of his type at play in the capitalist mix.

166:

No, he's not.

He's the SF playboy acting out his fantasies while the other 98% of his economic demographic are funding Arms, War and Fascism. [Hint: I know who actually funds him]

"Go to Mars" is acceptable: precisely because it fixes nothing on Earth.

The actual part of his portfolio which is important is the automation of transport: this really has no "democratic" or "feel good" ending.


If you want a serious anchor: apparently my Mind is 'agile' and 'sufficient' and 'smart' enough to be not purged. [We're a form of Mind that they call "Ares", we were Orion and love and Orpheus before they got to us. Wargasm, indeed].


And no, stop the bullshit:


Capitalism cannot fix this.


Go read the novel I linked to, and the solution it found: thatsthejoke.jpg [IRONY: linking to an award winning SF novel on a SF novelists blog and NO-ONE HAS FUCKING READ IT].

167:

What we don't know is how non-astronaut phenotypes... fare, and what the long term effects are (the record-holding astronauts and cosmonauts have still spent less than five years in orbit at this point).

We also still have no idea of the effects of gravity levels between zero and 1 are. Which you'd think would be an important avenue of research if you wanted to explore Mars or establish a long term Moonbase. The amount of basic research that really needs to be done before we embark upon long term, long distance space exploration is truly boggling, and this is just one of the more egregious examples.

168:

And you never never never want to know how they turn Orion / Orpheus / Sappho into Ares.

Hint: Torture.

And it's not how you imagine it.

Your imagination: stark cell with no bed, boring chair, electrical sockets and/or pain.

Your kind (modern humans) are good at physical torture, not so much the existential and ideological and direct Mind stuff [hint: your agencies are playing at it right now, c.f. that whole Ted Cruz "pastor shot 6 times and miracle survived and 7k miles attacked White House" stuff. OMG it's Aliens, pro-tip, T. Cruz PR handler worked in Vietnam, ex-CIA, scummy little bastard].

Shame.

Too bad you picked something that wasn't actually human to do it on. [Ok - look: atemporal jokes are fun, and just deal with it. It doesn't actually hurt any of you, apart from the kind that imagine that G_D and Humans are like the only things sentient in this universe. And, well, it's funny].

Too bad we're kinda different from that.


Hmm, right: space.


LOL.



Economy.

Yeah.

Wake me up when it doesn't include +2% growth / annum and plastic toys.

You utter, utter, utter cunts.

169:

Go read the novel I linked to, and the solution it found:
On my e-reader now. (It woke up spontaneously the other night and got me to read more of Orlando.)

170:

"What are the other possible commercial applications of the ITS, besides sending a million optimists to Mars?"

A booster capable of sending 500 tons into orbit would be a game changer -- its at least a 20x increase in the mass we can send to orbit in one go. But the things it's going to enable are not things we are currently doing in space.

NRO would love to be able to launch bigger spy sats, but how much bigger? Make the lens too much larger and you're just taking very sharp pictures of atmospheric haze, with no further progress being possible toward better/sharper pictures of the surveillance target on the ground. And the kinds of info they can't get with current spy sats (license plate numbers, faces) are things that are probably impossible to get from orbit.

Comm sats are already becoming obsolete/broken before they run out of station keeping fuel. The Van Allen belts are not kind to electronics. Bigger antennas and bigger solar panels on them would be nice, but that's not going to take a 10x increase in mass.

Yes, it would be theoretically possible to gang together 10 or 20 small sats and launch them all at once with this giant booster. But then your insurance risk goes through the roof in the event of a launch failure... and since when is there a need to launch 20 sats at once into the same or similar orbits? And launching the thing partially loaded plays havoc with your launch cost per kg.

So really, apart from some serious large scale manned space expedition, what use is such a giant booster? I'd say the only real customer for the thing would be NASA or ESA -- they'd be able to send up probes to Mercury or the outer planets on direct orbits, with a lot less time and money spent waiting for the probe to arrive. And it would enable missions currently impossible, like Pluto/Eris, Neptune, and Uranus orbiters, a Europa sample return mission, or a terrestrial exoplanet resolving telescope.

One commercial use that does occur to me would be sending up a satellite repair/refuel robot. Some robot arms, cameras, and a boxful of interchangable parts attached to a rocket engine and a fuel tank. As Moore's law slows down, com sats become obsolete more slowly, and it might be cost effective to fix them rather than move them out of the way when they break. It would only work with sats that were made to be refurbished in orbit, of course. Include a big fuel tank for it to return to in between missions, and you might get something that would tip the scales at 300 tons. But you'd only need it after you have a fleet of com sats designed to be repaired and refueled. Convincing all the sat companies to agree to change their fleets over to the new system would be kind of like trying to force mass adoption of Dvorak keyboards. So probably not going to happen.

171:

This is the kind of problem the market fixes before you know it's a problem. Provided politicians don't interfere on behalf of their cronies.

Seriously. You don't think the US food production markets are already totally interfered by politicians on behalf of their cronies.

Yes there are market forces in play but only within confined artificial boxes setup by the cronies and politicians.

Why is so much corn produced in the US?
Why is so much of the US food production grown in the California central valley?
The answers to these questions and more have nothing to do with market forces.

172:
It took me 4 hrs to show that a ~25% drop in the fishing industry was being covered up. [And that includes new markets due to temperature shifts driving shoals to other places, aka Iceland].

That was 3 trillion tonnes missing. In under 10 years.

So you're saying that 3 trillion tonnes is ~25% of total world fish catch over a 10 year period? Making the total catch around 1.2 trillion tonnes per annum, or nearly 180 tonnes for every human on the planet. I accept that some people really like fish a lot, but I don't think anyone is eating 500kg per day, which is what that works out to on average.

Of course, if you meant that 3 trillion tonnes was 25% of a single year's catch, you'd need to explain how humans were consuming (on average) 5 tonnes of fish per day each.

Relatedly, the earth's total non-microbial biomass is generally estimated between 0.5 and 1.0 trillion tonnes. So you're also asserting that the fishing industry pulls up the mass of the entire biosphere every year (or possibly every month, given the ambiguity noted above). This seems... shall we say unlikely?

173:

Why is so much US food production laced with antibiotics?
For seriously stupid, that takes some beating.

[ Rather than the we#re all DOOMED rantings from CT, who, I see is claiming to be non-human again.
Tell you what, CT ... if you really are non-human, i.e. an ALIEN, why don't you go & see some scientists or a government?]

174:

Rhetorical question?

175:

Getting a little off-topic here, but ...

When my wife and I got married over 13 years ago, we did a little reading in preparation and learned that (a) the average wedding in Scotland in 2001 cost £17,000 (and that's the mean -- including folks who rolled up to the registry office and forked over their £140 for the paperwork then went to McDonald's), and (b) people who are spending on getting married have no fucking sense whatsoever. (We underspent by an order of magnitude -- hey, we were paying for it, not our parents, so we were in control, too -- then had a honeymoon and didn't have to worry about being in debt for the next few years.)

A chunk of the wedding-industrial complex's revenue stream relies on parental involvement. It's traditional for the parents to pay for the wedding bash, so the new couple have everything organized to their parents' satisfaction, and then feel the need a generation later to pay for the wedding they wanted but weren't allowed to have at the time, thereby inflicting the same misery and stress on their children.

The parents of millennials have typically succeeded in getting onto the housing market and have paid off their mortgages and are eminently credit-worthy and don't have expensive kids to raise any more. Meanwhile, property entry-prices have inflated so high that their kids aren't in a position to own their own home, or to ask for a loan as collateral for the mortgage. To the extent that millennials are bothering to get married at all (it's a dwindling tradition in the west: around 50% of couples never bother at all here in Scotland) it has therefore become an excuse for conspicuous consumption funded by a guilt-tripped generation on behalf of kids who can't really afford it.

So the cost of a wedding is geared against the capital assets of boomers or early gen-X-ers, rather than the income of millennials. And this is half of why the honeymoon-in-orbit market is probably going to be rather big, if Musk and Bigelow don't go bust first.

The other half, of course, being rich 50-something male 1%-ers who want to give Wife 2.0 a good show (this is the mid-life crisis trophy wife, not the childhood sweetheart who gave them their children and who they've just divorced).

176:

Any Future Weave based on it is essentially nihilist, immature, dumb and worst of all, bankrupt in its entirety.

Agreed, more or less.

Any use of resources to build a self-sufficient colony on Mars would be sufficient to build multiple self-sufficient survivable colonies on a much more hospitable planet ... without leaving home. Or on mitigating the problems they want to run away from in the first place.

I worry that we're trashing Earth's biosphere to the point where we'll have to employ terraforming techniques to keep it inhabitable. But terraforming implies engineering on such a huge scale that from our current political starting position we might as well concede that it's game over time for liberal democracy and indeed the entire western enlightenment. (I don't see our current leadership mechanisms as being capable of throwing the entire human species into world war levels of total mobilization for a few centuries, and that's what it'll take if we don't get on top of climate change before we lose our agricultural base.) I also worry that we may end up finding it easier to build a whole new thermotolerant biosphere of artificial organisms that can survive the "new normal" and feed the new thermotolerant angineered human species they'll need to keep our culture alive. Or that we're going to see a gigascale die-back.

Colonising Mars per Musk if it works will result in an impoverished, authoritarian society (at least for the first couple of centuries) living in a borderline-uninhabitable desert, forced to cope on their own resources much like North Korea, in a state of permanent NK-style mobilization (only rather than military it'll be civil defense) for a couple of million people. And that's not what I call survival for human culture.

177:

>>And this is half of why the honeymoon-in-orbit

honeymoon-in-orbit

honeymoon-in-orbit

_____moon____orbit

Something does not compute here. You can either have a honeyorbit in orbit or a honeymoon on the moon. You can't have honeymoon in orbit.

178:

There is No Mars Colony that saves Humanity. You fuckers can't even stop plastics in your own oceans and killing off all the mega-fauna (ha! "mega" in this case is anything above the scale of a horse) on your own fucking planet.

Oh, FFS.

("Hello, Catina Diamond" *waves hand*)

There is no need to save Humanity, it is not doomed. We can live with plastic in the oceans, without mega-fauna and with rising oceans.

179:

The Big Dumb Booster problem was solved in the 1960s, at least to the same point where SpaceX is now.

Nope.

The engineering side of the BDB was solved in the 60s (see Truax et al).

What Musk bought to the table was the financial side ... in theory.

Remember, Musk is the guy who looked at electric vehicles, realized that the problem with getting people to shift away from gas burners was essentially one of image and marketing, and sank his effort into building a pointless two-seater electric supercar just to break from the prevailing marketing paradigm. (It worked, and he now owns the leading high-end saloon car brand in the US, and is trying to push down into the mass market before VW, Ford, GM et all get their skates on.)

Yes, this is essentially a financial and marketing approach, but it broke the deadlock.

Similarly, he broke the Big Boys' cosy space launch cartel wide open by going for reusability, and that's an unmitigated good for the space launch business in the long run, even if SpaceX goes bust.

My big worry is that he did it for the wrong reasons. While his focus on the solar electricity stack, self-driving electric cars, PV on every roof, and so on is laudable (and back around 1999 he laid it all out in his business plan -- "get everyone off fossil fuels: how? Give them a better/faster/sexier car that they'll line up to buy, then sell them the rooftop solar to juice up their cars, then use the parked cars as power reservoirs for their domestic electricity draw, then make batteries cheaper, then kill off coal"), his plan for space was ... well. I think he grew up reading too much bad Analog SF. If we're lucky he has in mind a bait-and-switch for the ITS involving solar power satellites and rectenna arrays manufactured by Solar City (which he just bought). I'll happily grant him a Mars colony as a hobby project if it's a side-effect of totally decarbonizing our energy cycle by 2040.

But yes, in the final analysis Musk hasn't invented something new; he's just figured out how the hell to sell us the stuff we knew we needed but were too timid to buy.

180:

What was the novel? (Title/author, not a link. I don't generally click on uncaptioned or context-free links here -- life's too short, even with 80mb/s incoming.)

181:

There is no need to save Humanity, it is not doomed. We can live with plastic in the oceans, without mega-fauna and with rising oceans.

I'm not sure that's true.

Firstly, 80% of us live within 300km of a coastline. Most of our biggest cities are ports, which for some peculiar reason seem to be built up from sea level. Seriously, rising oceans will really trash your property prices, even if you're lucky enough not to live in Florida or Bangladesh.

Secondly, mega-fauna: do you really want to culturally impoverish all future generations of humanity just because you couldn't be arsed cracking down on poachers and idiots who think fracking is fine and dandy as long as they can make a quarterly profit off it?

As for the ocean plastic problem, it's too early to tell, but you need to bear in mind that our species relies on ocean-harvested animals for about 25% of our total dietary protein consumption and jellyfish ain't tasty.

182:

Yep: the cost per launch for an ITS stack is targeting around $200M (but more like $1Bn for the first couple -- they won't be flying again, they'll be torn down for post-mortem studies then go to the Smithsonian), and the upper stage has a design life of 12 flights even if you land it back on the ground somewhere it can be refurbished and re-flown.

Read it again. The cost per launch *to mars* is $62M. That includes 6 booster round-trips, 5 tanker round-trips, propellant for the spaceship, a spaceship maintenance cycle, and amortizing 1/12 of the spaceship fabrication. Target cost *per booster launch* is under $2M, including amortization, propellant, launch services, and maintenance.
For putting something into LEO you need a second stage basically like the tanker: cheaper, simpler and more re-usable than the BFS (it doesn't have to go to Mars, doesn't have to have the big-ass solar panels, and most importantly doesn't have to aerobrake at Mars from Earth transfer (~ 6km/sec) or at Earth from Mars transfer (~ 12 km/sec)). It *does* have to get back from from LEO, like Shuttle, so it has lower re-usability and higher maintenance costs than the BFR. Target cost per launch is $1.6M.
So Musk's total target cost for putting 380 tons into LEO is around $3.4M. A little under $10K per ton. Not sure where you got your $200M from, unless you were using the expendable numbers.

183:

(The whole presentation was just vapourware, of course, apart from the shots of the BFS tank and the Raptor test-fire. Which on their own were plenty exciting enough).

184:

I have a suspicion that our OGH is in didactic mode. :)

Sticking to the original brief, once you've done the Telstar and LandSat thing why else would you go there commercially? Hard radiation, micro-G and vacuum make it tough on automation while wasting muscles and brittle bones make it undesirable for people. The scientists have been puttering around in LEO labs for a while now I haven't heard/seen any great breakthroughs that would drive orbital factories (a lot of speculation yes, not much substance).

With the ITS payload capability could put a momentum exchange tether (pick your flavour) in orbit, but again that's only commercial if you can then charge someone to go somewhere (the moon?). Near term you could (maybe) use it as an alternative upper stage booster technology to toss satellites into their park orbits but you've just added a tricky rendezvous problem to you launch service.

Climate change technologies? That's a nation state thing, not a commercial enterprise and would require global political negotiation as the climate is, err, a global thing. A tactical nuke dropped into your local volcanoes magma chamber might be a lower risk route for any nation state wanting to effect a rapid change in climate, just a suggestion.

One thing we could do with Musk's monster is build a real (big) wagon wheel space-station with proper centrifugal gravity rather than the gossamer dragonfly we've got at the moment. But again that's a coalition of nation states project. Then you'd sell a franchise to Hilton, because it's somewhere that you can actually 'go' as opposed to an inflatable hab (shudder). That might be a game changer.

Upthread a couple of people have proposed the ITS as an enabler for Kessler missions Having done the mission analysis for a chaser vehicle as part my masters I can advise the current booster fleet is fine, you can get a useable payload into higher inclination orbits with a medium launcher like the Antares and squeak by with a lighter launcher like Pegasus for less challenging intercepts. The real problems are, as usual, not technical but business (tough to make a commercial argument about ROI), legal (all satellites and booster belong to the launch state, so you can't just hoover 'em up, and where exactly can you de-orbit) and political (i.e. ITARS and/or whether you are perceived as building a stealthed up space interceptor). Put all that together and only a 'fire brigade' mission initiated on the basis that the risk of collision far outweighs the potential risks of a mission failure is a viable one, and that's just not commercially viable (sorry). BTW most of the Kessler debris is from a couple of engine explosions and a Chinese ASAT demo, the idiots.

Space, it's big, dangerous and empty...

185:

Of course Mars does not solve anything. However, if Musk does build his super heavy lifter, expect a "surprise announcement" of a "temporary" but necessary switch to asteroid mining.

186:

>>>Firstly, 80% of us live within 300km of a coastline. Most of our biggest cities are ports, which for some peculiar reason seem to be built up from sea level. Seriously, rising oceans will really trash your property prices, even if you're lucky enough not to live in Florida or Bangladesh.

Oceans will not rise in a day, there will be plenty of time to move or to build sea walls. It will be expensive and annoying, but perfectly doable.

>>>Secondly, mega-fauna: do you really want to culturally impoverish all future generations of humanity just because you couldn't be arsed cracking down on poachers and idiots who think fracking is fine and dandy as long as they can make a quarterly profit off it?

Of course I don't want that. I'm just saying humanity will survive, just like we do today without moas, dodos or thylacines.

>>>As for the ocean plastic problem, it's too early to tell, but you need to bear in mind that our species relies on ocean-harvested animals for about 25% of our total dietary protein consumption and jellyfish ain't tasty.

That's what seasoning is for.

And when push comes to shove, we can just start eating more insects.

187:

My take on this is that the plastic lifecycle in the ocean is that it gets into cells, and (apart from our harvest) after going around a couple of times eventually ends up in the ooze of the abyssal plains along with all the other dead biota.

The problem folk aren't really clocking is that the icecaps act like a sink for a whole bunch of nasty man mades, methyl-mercury, PCB's, PBDE's dioxins etc etc. So when the ice melts what is going to happen to that burden?

188:

Tesla and SolarCity were set up to save humanity from destroying Earth too much. SpaceX is set up to save humanity in case the Earth *does* get destroyed. Not by humanity (almost anything that humans can do to Earth will still be easier to survive than surviving on Mars right now), but by external forces, like a killer asteroid. And also getting a permanent colony on Mars would be the necessary first step for a further expansion of humanity to other planetary bodies (and way later to the stars) in order to mitigate other possible Great Filter events.

As a side-note - it takes more energy to land on the Moon than on Mars due to Mars having some atmosphere that you can use to break without expending fuel. It makes a huge difference in delta-V calculations. Also it is clear that Mars has far more useful natural resources than Moon including CO2, water ice and metals. That makes Mars more likely as a colony that could feasibly survive without Earth than Moon.

One other application that was not mentioned is that this mass capability and price makes it feasible to launch a relatively cheap tug that would repair and refuel multiple existing GEO satellites, possibly even replace some modules with upgraded parts under remote robotic control. If one cheaper tug can service and thus extend life of a dozen GEO satellites like this, it would pay for itself.

189:

The thing that will act as a Big Fix (and disruptor) is battery technology. I am quite willing to bet that inside 15 years transport will move to 90% electric. What will the oil industry do then?
And... .solar electricity in optimum locations is now below 3 cents per kWh, unsubsidized.

190:

... and once you get energy prices down to about zero as makes no difference people with big deserts (cheap land), lots of sunlight, lots of money and an existing mass transport infrastructure are going to attract all the high energy industries. From Aluminium smelting to fuel synthesis. No coincidence that the latest record for cheap solar is from a proposed power plant in Dubai

http://www.ecowatch.com/new-record-set-for-worlds-cheapest-solar-1891128402.html

191:

Target cost *per booster launch* is under $2M, including amortization, propellant, launch services, and maintenance.

The keyword there is "target". First couple of dozen launches? Not so much.

The key thing here is amortization and fixed infrastructure costs. Shuttle ended up astronomically expensive because it was so intricate to refurb between flights that they maxed out at 6 per year, and the fixed costs of the pad and the refurb crew ran into billions per year, whether they flew once or half a dozen times. The original goal of shuttle was 50+ flights/year, and even in the 1980s, prior to the Challenger loss, they were aiming for 20/year by 1990.

I get that Musk is deliberately trying to keep the ITS complexity much, much lower than that of the shuttle as a system -- and he may get there by version 1.3 or so, much as Falcon 9 shows signs of maturing into a solid, 80% reusable launch system by the time F-9 1.3 flies (in a year or so). But I don't think he'll get anywhere near there for the first few vehicles, or with less than a decade of flight experience. And bridging that gap is the hard part.

192:

Meanwhile, we will be paying 12 cents per kWh from our great white nuclear elephant at Hinkley Point

193:

When a friend got married back in the early 90s, one piece of advice she got was to book the venue for a party, not a wedding reception. Apparently the price doubled as soon as you said the word "wedding". Not certain how much of that is because the bride (here it tends to be the bride who plans the wedding) is spending her parents money and how much is her caving social pressure for a celebrity-style wedding. Most of the couples I know (well enough to know that detail) paid for their own weddings (and were 30+ when getting married). Among my younger colleagues big weddings and destination weddings seem to be 'the thing', spending close to the down payment for a house on an event (and then wondering how to get on the property ladder!).

So yes, I suspect that honeymoon/wedding in space could be very profitable if the venue can be made sufficiently luxurious.

194:

Please let's not waste that water as fuel. The lunar surface consists of oxidized stuff, and oxidant is a big part of rocket propellant. The moon also has lots of aluminum, which has been used as fuel, as well other stuff somebody might find a way to use, like potassium. You don't need to waste volatiles. Drawbacks include the high energy cost of turning regolith into fuel and oxidant, but didn't somebody say something about solar energy? Plenty of materials for glass and shiny stuff to make huge mirrors and you don't have to go photovoltaic, keep it simple. Another drawback with using non-volatile minerals to propel rockets is that they mostly get you SOLID rockets. Good enough for getting off the moon.

195:

In a command economy, such as a single large corporation, the better BDB could be used as the first step to further development. That, not its immediate uses, would be its total value. In an economy relying on markets as a main tool of development, the fire won't catch until a higher threshold is reached. You have to be doing enough up there to make the customer base that lives in space a viable market on its own. Which short term uses might or might not be good enough for. So immediate uses are not necessarily indicative of true value in either case.

196:

Definitely start with a decent moonbase. Gives us a chance to learn what we need to know about creating a permanent, reasonably safe and stable platform for science, manufacturing, medical research, tourism, whatever.

Manufacturing is particularly important, since the moon provides an enormous resource base that isn't at the bottom of a deep gravity well. The real issue is whether key resources like metals and carbon are sufficiently abundant for extraction and purification to be feasible. There's probably a ton of water, which means an easy oxygen source -- plus water itself, which we humans kinda need if we want to survive in the long term.

In the extreme silliness category, any mass you can eject at velocity becomes a functional propellant. The problem with a space station is that you can't really use most of the mass (which is nominally serving a useful purpose) as propellant. If you're on the moon, you've got no shortage of mass, plus the solar energy to turn it into propellant. So you can use that energy to eject charged mass (e.g., like a railgun) and propel something. That's the basis for an ion drive. There are obviously options ranging from efficient (NASA proposes xenon for various good reasons) to ridiculously inefficient (small rocks*) to create thrust.

* I did say "ridiculous". But I can imagine "Space 1999" reframed as propelling the Moon out of Earth's orbit using such a device. Of course, if you did throw rocks out the back of the bus for propulsion and had any significant number of buses, you'd have a really nasty exhaust problem to deal with -- one that would make the problem of orbital debris seem tame by comparison. But as the saying goes, the science is solved; the rest is just an engineering problem.

197:

I assumed she meant "Children of Time" by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor)

198:

Don't get the repeated suggestions that Musk is pulling a bait'n'switch for his "real" plan. Whether SPS, or asteroid mining, or just pulling a Space Trump to milk gullible investors.

Musk is a child of Bob Zubrin's obsession. He believes this stuff.

(See also his recent involvement in the anti-AI group.)

--

Charlie Stross (#176):
"Any use of resources to build a self-sufficient colony on Mars would be sufficient to [mitigate] the problems they want to run away from in the first place."

Developing and testing cutting edge technology and new techniques on a "greenfield" site is much easier than trying to introduce it on occupied land.

(This goes doubly so for political and social reform.)

If we need to make radical social/economic or even terraforming-level changes to deal with AGW (and pollution/overconsumption in general), then seeing the necessary changes working successfully somewhere else makes it easier to introduce here.

Likewise the "expanded horizons" POV effect: Those coming back to Earth and seeing the extraordinary waste of resources and destruction of the planetary ECLSS that would kill the colony they grew up in. Acts that are capital crimes in a colony (one way or another) being treated as unassailable "rights" on Earth.

(Or, flip side, seeing the failure to take advantage of the extraordinary resources in space. The failure to even understand that the rules of the game have forever changed. Squabbling over kilometres when AU are available. Fighting over MWs when TWs stream past the planet every moment.)

199:

paws4thot (#)8:
"I'm not sure either way about the plausibility of 0-g coitus; [...] it occurs to me that, ah, maintaining penetration is going to require the participants to be tied together around their pelvic girdles and/or thighs."

Charlie Stross (#11):
"Per Newton, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction ...
... Consequently I suspect any kind of penetrative sexual activity in microgravity will require bondage accessories, simply as a substitute for gravity in holding the participants together."

You guys must have really powerful penises to be able to thrust someone away so hard you can't hold on to them without being tied together.

I'm always amazed at seeing otherwise smart people repeat this "clever" meme, apparently without thinking it through. I've seen mindlessly repeated online for over three decades. It's bizarre. It's not like people haven't, for example, had sex in water before.

Even its own premise, Newton 3rd law, debunks the idea. Equal and opposite. Ie, no greater force than you can apply with your pelvis. Hold something like a soccerball in your hands against your genitals and try pelvic thrusting so hard that you're unable to hold on to it. And of course, that's leveraging against the ground with your legs, and with a completely passive "partner". With sex in space, one partner just needs to hook their feet lightly around their partner's thighs; they can then control the entire act if they like. Sex in micro-g will be vastly easier than sex under 1g. Everyone's on "top", but eliminating weight eliminates 90% of issues of coordination and discomfort, and almost entirely removes the injury risk from the more interesting positions.

200:

Charles H (#69):
"OK, how about this:
A pair of, say, Neptune orbit observatories a third of an orbit apart, each with a 5 mile mirror."

[Aside: This limits you to targets that are perpendicular to a line between the telescopes. An arc perpendicular to Neptune's orbit, slowly sweeping around the sky once every 165 years.]

The problem with giant space telescopes is that they are singular systems which are therefore expensive one-off designs and extremely limited in their use. The real benefit of a low cost launcher, and especially a low cost HLV, is being able to launch a lot of hardware cheaply, and therefore take advantage of economies of scale, modularisation, rapid testing cycles, and hence off-the-shelf hardware. Your ideal then is to develop fairly standardised, low-cost 10-12m mirrors and structure and launch a bunch of them. Some will be single facilities, some will be arrays, some will be Earth-obs, some UV, some near-IR, some will be turned into the main instrument of a family of planetary probes, some will be in near-Earth orbit and highly upgradeable, others will be sent far above the ecliptic for clarity's sake, etc, etc. But importantly, they will be within the price-range of many research institutions of many countries, allowing many more researchers to get scope-time for their lower-priority projects, increase the rate of discovery.

It's the same with planetary probes, with landers, with rovers, etc. Being able to launch them cheaply means that many, many more institutions can afford the launch, which means that there are many institutions which will try to build cheap or buy off-the-shelf cores to attach their in-house instruments, which creates a speciality market for generic modular telescope/probe/lander/rover "cores". And then, like nanosats and nanoracks, you start to get standardisation of instrument shape and specs, making it even easier to develop both the instruments but the spacecraft cores that house them.

201:

Glaurung (#170):
"NRO would love to be able to launch bigger spy sats, but how much bigger? Make the lens too much larger and you're just taking very sharp pictures of atmospheric haze, with no further progress being possible toward better/sharper pictures of the surveillance target on the ground."

Many of the ways to compensate for atmospheric distortion in Earth-based astronomy work very well when viewing Earth from space. The atmospheric limit for astronomy is about 5m. Hasn't stopped us building ever larger telescopes.

And it's not just using active mirrors.

Fast images, stacked. This only works on brightly lit objects... such as... Earth. Especially when using a large mirror.

And using a "guide-star" to model atmospheric distortion works especially well for Earth viewing, since you know that the majority of what you are watching is stationary, and often sharp edged (like the edge of a roof-top, the boundaries of a vehicle, etc), so any moment-by-moment changes must be due only to atmospheric distortion. You can therefore electronically model a theoretically perfect image of known objects against the actual recorded images and develop a continuous correction for the distortion which can then apply to the rest of the image. It works surprisingly well. (Amateurs on the internet used something similar to clean up and stabilise the recent Falcon 9 explosion video.)

Large mirror telescopes also allow you to move the telescope further away from Earth for the same resolution, increasing loiter time. Even to GEO which is well beyond current lens limits for any reasonable resolution.

And as with outward facing observatories, cheap launches allow you to litter space with lower cost telescopes, order them by the dozens, simpler tech but more available. The more expensive the spysat, the longer you have to use it, the fewer times you can upgrade the technology, the fewer opportunities you have for experimentation and the more conservative your designs need to be.

"Comm sats are already becoming obsolete/broken before they run out of station keeping fuel. The Van Allen belts are not kind to electronics. Bigger antennas and bigger solar panels on them would be nice, but that's not going to take a 10x increase in mass."

The best protection for electronics is bulk shielding. Sheer mass.

But not when you are paying $millions per tonne. So you need cheap heavy-lift.

"Yes, it would be theoretically possible to gang together 10 or 20 small sats and launch them all at once with this giant booster. But then your insurance risk goes through the roof in the event of a launch failure..."

Amortisation doesn't work like that. If the risk of failure is an arbitrary 1 launch out of every 100, then the risk per satellite is 1/100 whether they are launched alone or in groups of 50. The insurance-rate-per-launch is higher, obviously, but the insurance-rate-per-satellite is the same, and since customers buy the insurance, not the launch company, the cost to the customers is unchanged.

"But you'd only need it after you have a fleet of com sats designed to be repaired and refueled. Convincing all the sat companies to agree to change their fleets over to the new system would be kind of like trying to force mass adoption of Dvorak keyboards. So probably not going to happen."

Satellite manufacturers are deeply opposed to orbital servicing, but satellite operators have been cautiously supportive. To see a change, you may need new manufacturers coming on-line, but the operators are already on-board and will go wherever the savings are.

[I recall a comment from a CEO of a satellite manufacturer "joking" that is Canadian robotics company MDA launched its proposed orbital refuelling system, they'd "weld the fuel-caps on".)

202:

"Don't get the repeated suggestions that Musk is pulling a bait'n'switch for his "real" plan."

I am sure he is quite sincere, but the bottom line really is the bottom line - he needs to make a LOT of money.

203:

Me: "This limits you to targets that are perpendicular to a line between the telescopes. An arc perpendicular to Neptune's orbit, slowly sweeping around the sky once every 165 years."

That wasn't very clear. I meant "a arc-of-observation perpendicular to Neptune".

204:

Don't get the repeated suggestions that Musk is pulling a bait'n'switch for his "real" plan. Whether SPS, or asteroid mining, or just pulling a Space Trump to milk gullible investors.
Musk is a child of Bob Zubrin's obsession. He believes this stuff.

Elon Musk also has Tesla, with its goal of ending fossil fuel use. SPS and asteroid mining make sense as means to that end.

205:

The two things you get out of a mars colony that you don't get from say colonizing Antarctica

1: you are forced to build your own self sufficient ecosystem. One that is simple enough to be well understood and directly managed
2: isolation from earth, so that if earth goes down for whatever reason it doesn't take you with it

With regards to Elon, at least he is doing something that is having a measurable effect rather then just whining about things

206:

"...the Bigelow BA-2100 spacehab only needs a 70-90 ton LEO launch capacity and has half the volume of the entire ISS…"

I found different specifications.

Gross volume of ISS: 932 cubic meters. Usable volume of ISS: 388 cubic meters.
Gross volume of Bigelow 2100: 2250 cubic meters.

The haphazard and accumulative arrangement of internal fixtures on the ISS has resulted in a net/gross volume efficiency fraction of 42%. Assume a carefully-planned B2100, also benefiting from scale economies of equipment, which reaches a fraction of 65%.

The ISS volume per person figure is 388/6 = 65 cubic meters per person, about the volume of a typical bedroom. The typical volume of a cruise liner cabin (or budget hotel room) for two people, including bathroom, is 30 cubic meters, so let's go with that. Zero-g allows full use of the available volume, so it might not feel too cramped.

Assume that 50% of the volume of the hotel is cabins and the remaining 50% crew and public areas.

Estimates vary for the mass of a B2100, but let's assume 300 tonnes (the reusable ITS payload limit) for a hotel comprising 3 x B2100, along with initial consumables, PV panels, etc.

Such a space hotel could thus incorporate (3 x 2250 x 0.65 x 0.5)/30 = 73 cabins, accommodating 146 guests at full occupancy.

The passenger-to-crew ratio for airliners is 40:1, cruise liners 2.5:1, luxury hotels 1:1 and budget hotels 10:1. Assume a ratio of 5:1 for the space hotel, i.e. 29 staff, for a total of 175 souls.

Comparable prices: Necker Island: $50k per night for 30 people; best villa at most luxurious resort in Maldives: $6k per night; Royal Suite at Burj Al Arab: $25k per night; superyacht: $100k per night for 12 guests; Everest: $100k. I think CS’s $250k figure looks plausible @ $40k per night for a weeklong stay. No cost figures available for B2100, so I don’t know if the business case closes.

Transport costs: Assume daily flights with full turnover once per week. 21 guest arrivals/departures per day.

Assume staff rotate once per four weeks. Comparables: offshore 2 weeks on 2 weeks off; Ohio-class SSBN: 10 week patrol. So that adds about 1 staff member rotation per day, making a total of 22 people arriving/departing per day.

Assume an evolved reusable Falcon-9 with a payload to LEO of about 20 tonnes (the current F9 payload when used expendably). Musk has mentioned $500/kg to LEO. Taking into account passenger weight, supplies, fuel, vehicle structure, then a 20 tonne vehicle could transport 21 people. Compare with Dragon capsule: 6 tonnes for 7 people, also Skylon passenger compartment: 15 tonnes for 30 people (excludes fuel, some structure).

So the launch cost would be $10M, that is about $500k per paying passenger.

Throw in some contingencies and profit margin, and the price for a week’s holiday in orbit could be $1M per person.

Knight Frank says there are currently 187,500 ultra-high-net-worth individuals (liquid assets >$30M) a number which is growing by about 8,000 per year. Assuming 365-day operation, the space hotel would host about 8,000 people per year. Is it plausible to think that every year 4% of the UHNWI population would take a space vacation ? No.

Perhaps it would be advisable to start with a single B2100 and expand organically as demand increases.

207:

Has anyone mentioned ground-/water-penetrating radar as a commercial application of massive tech in space in order to more easily find specific minerals, metals, schools of fish, etc.? Similar tech, if fine-tuned enough, could also probably be used to monitor pollution and other chemicals. Results could also be used to prosecute polluters, illegal fishing and dumping, etc.

Would Musk's space-y thing help to finally fill in the gap of what's being observed on this planet from space? I'm thinking of that Malaysia plane that vanished in a satellite dead zone and those huge floating islands of plastic trash that made hunting for that plane so challenging. If all points of the planet were known to be observed maybe fewer people would dump garbage and destroy those points, or commit off-satellite suicide with a full passenger jet.

Just how much junk would we need to throw into Earth's orbit to obscure the sun enough to drop the average ocean temp by 1 degree Celsius?


208:

Given that we almost never figure out how what something like this is good for until we build it and use it for a while (and until the pioneers who built it go bust,) I have to be just a little bit curious what the end effect of making Earth to orbit a whole bunch cheaper will be. $10k per ton to low orbit is $2 per pound (US units.) That's got to make a difference to someone, something, somewhere. An optimist would say that we'll figure it out after it becomes real ("build it and they will come,") but doesn't that usually take someone willing to go bust in the effort to make it happen? I wonder whether Musk is that sort of person, and whether his investors know it.

Beginning to think this is more, "The Man Who Sold the Moon" than "Starship Troopers." :)

209:

the Space Shuttle, version 1.0 (you know, before Congress and the Air Force got ahold of it)... what NASA wanted to build

I covered STS development and early operations for three science magazines from mid-70s to mid-80s, and got to know quite a few engineers as well as managers. So while I missed the "what NASA wanted to build" years, I was around while the delta between that and what they were building -- and the reasons for that delta -- were still fresh and not yet mythologized.

Heppenheimer's The Space Shuttle Decision comes closest to what I saw -- which at least off the record was much more "It turned out a lot harder than we thought in 1968" than "if only we'd had more money and less USAF direction on bay size and cross-range capability." Specifically, the phase B (1970-71) designs for a fully reusable flyback first stage were unrealistic behemoths: the mass of several An-225s, with 12 to 28 engines in various turbojet-rocket-scramjet combinations, which would just mosey on up to Mach 8-12, where a piggyback orbiter would cleanly separate. The NASA people I knew were quite clear that that alone would have eaten up more than their initial budget request, and taken a lot longer than a decade.

I'm not saying that budget restraints and NRO/USAF input didn't make a difference. I'm saying that NASA itself did most of the crucial design "backing off" from full reusability for other (and sound) reasons, and that the Shuttle we got should be compared to what might really have been built, not to a rainbow sparkle unicorn STS which treats large-scale air-breathing hypersonic flight as an all-but-solved problem we could have knocked off on the way to cheaper LEO access. .

210:

Cheaper LEO was always possible since the 1960s with things like Sea Dragon. However, there were no mission requirements for 500 tonne payloads.

211:

One thing I didn't mention and I'm surprised no one else did since this was posted originally on the day Rosetta crashed into its comet, is a lot more of that sort of science.

You send up a Rosetta-II with 20 Philaes instead of 1 to the next comet. You send up a flotilla of them to survey say 30-50 comets and start to get some real data on a reasonable subset of them instead of, however wonderful the data is, just one. Having 20 landers per mission means you are far less likely to have the issues Rosetta had with its lander. Having a potentially bigger payload means... I don't know. It seems they got a hell of a lot of instrumentation into the two they had actually. I'm sure they could have more though. I just don't know enough about the fine detail of the project to sensibly suggest what they might be.

212:

Note that I used the word "pointless" only in the context of the commercial applications that academics have to pretend to believe in to get funding these days.

My personal favourite was a press release from a materials science lab doing basic research into the properties of graphene that had managed to blag a load of funding by claiming that it might be possible to use it to make ultra thin condoms.

213:

Do you think they would send 20 simple landers or one massively complicated lander which contains every experiment they could think of for a hugely expensive single point of failure?

I know what I would put my money on.

214:

42: "Something like Musk's launcher would make space solar a potentially viable operation, at least if you could build a solar power array that could "unfold" in space once it's at the right orbit."

Musk is on record [1] as saying that even if launch costs were free, space solar power still wouldn't be viable. Taking that at face value, it could be that you'd need to build up a space industrial infrastructure (e.g. on the moon, perhaps using the "space elevator" trick Stross discusses-- there's supposed to be *some* volatiles on the Moon, by the way, though they're at the poles, as far away as possible from the equitorial base of an L1 elevator: I smell design trade-offs here).

Myself, I like the idea of space-solar at earth's L1, where you could hypothetically also use it as a sun-screen for global warming amelioration. I don't doubt many smart people can come up with reasons why that's not the right thing to do, but my claim is they're missing the point that it's something that can be made to *sound really good* to people who aren't as smart as they are, and we need to get the human race to actually *do* something on global warming (not just pretend they're doing something, not just promise to get started on doing something in 50 years or so...).

[1] That's to the extent that Musk *ever* goes on record with anything: the great Musk doesn't bother with peer-reviewed publication, he just does press interviews that we're all supposed to believe uncritically (why would you expect any spin or distortion from him? It's not as though he's some big business dude pushing highly-speculative products that require government subsidy and/or contracts -- oh, wait).

Anyway: Stewart Brand reports that Musk said SPS was bunk, so Brand has stopped thinking about SPS.

215:

Hugh Fisher @ 86: "First stage for Orion drive space vehicles?"

Freeman Dyson has commented that the thing that really made the economics of the Orion Project look good was it's advantages in getting a lot of mass up out of Earth's gravity well. Once you're up in high orbit, there's a lot of things you can do, and messing with nuclear explosions probably isn't worth it.

216:

Just how much junk would we need to throw into Earth's orbit to obscure the sun enough to drop the average ocean temp by 1 degree Celsius?
I haven't seen any proposal other than L1. You could start with wikipedia "Space Sunshade" which mentions a proposal massing 20 million tonnes at L1 for 2% reduction in insolation. (Don't know the dynamics for the oceans.) I referenced "Optimal Sunshade Configurations..." above which has a bunch of references. Probably some of them are solid.

Unrelated, re Children of Time discussed a little above, moderately interesting story so far but I'm feeling some of CT's mehs - not-strong characterization, not fully plausible human politics, implausibilities in the biology/evolution patched up with a magic virus, mind uplift somewhat hand-wavey.
Still worth reading though.

217:

1- A very large array radiotelescope on lunar farside

2- A big, spinning, Mars-gravity space station in high Earth orbit, dedicated to testing plants intended eventually for Mars.

218:

No.

the ~25% / 3 trillion drop was in non-direct protein fishing. i.e. the stuff that gets made into pellets (for aquaculture etc) / pet food / fertilizers for farming etc. From ~1990 to present, so 25 yrs or so, but the decrease in tonnage sped up dramatically in the last 10.

It's (literally) the bottom of the food-chain stuff that isn't worth $ / tonnage putting into the human food chain (and so gets used to make things that have value / deliver value).

Here's the wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_fisheries_production#Projected_production

The annual total minus freshwater species is ~85 mil tonnes.

It is grossly incorrect given I was using Industry / Finance Analyst docs: hint - FAO only measures (it would appear) direct consumption. It's a hidden / sunk costing (and probably deliberate that it's not reported).

Best advice - look up the thread, it has the links in there. It wasn't my opinion, it came direct from the industry / finance people - who aren't in the game of over-stating problems. [However - trillion does appear to be a very large number. Might be $ sales expressed as tonnage, although the costs I linked to were something in the order of $20-100 / tonne ~ so you're still looking at billions of tonnes shortfall].

The point of high-lighting this is that Mars has literally zero of any of this. Humans cannot currently create self-regulating closed ecologies [it's been tried, and ants broke it] at this point in time, so creating an interstellar high-way to Mars is akin to offering tourism to Aleppo [fact check: indeed true of the Syrian tourist board. We're very good at meta].

~
#216

magic virus

Bingo!

Now the jokes about blood spurting out of your ears [think Scanners etc] might make sense. Or what might be considered as a better solution than gigacide.

"Worked" for Firefly, after all.

~

#173
Greg

Tv Tropes: Foreshadowing, Chekhov's Gun, Lamp Shading.

In books you're allowed to muck around like I just showed you I was doing. i.e. you can violate causality with impunity.

You're not supposed to do it in reality. i.e. What's the odds that I made a narrative joke that tied in the elements of the Actual before it occurred?

Spoilers: it's funny.

~

#178

There is no need to save Humanity, it is not doomed. We can live with plastic in the oceans, without mega-fauna and with rising oceans.

Yes, you can also live inside a 6' x 9' cell in solitary confinement and remain sane. Well, for a little while.

You're suffering under the illusion that the Mind is not a spectrum / emergent entity and that environment doesn't shape it immensely.

It's not a very sane position to hold [hint: I really do know this stuff], and ironically enough, loops back into why a Mars Colony (long term) is absolute horror. Check your Fremen privilege, they at least got Religion, Hard Drugs and Adrenaline Sports via Worm riding.

219:

p.s.

We note the snark.

You didn't actually go check the source documents though. $ / tonnage is fine, it's the 25% decline you should be wetting your fucking pants over, given that these are a) growth industries and b) not industries that actually give a shit about not extracting the maximal profit over time and c) the data presented is only from the vaguely sane ones who don't lie / cheat / decimate more than their quotas and/or actually have any industry over-sight into protecting their source of revenue. [Hint: it's the Russian Whale Hunting problem, go do some research].


You really really really are that fucked.

Like the data showing ~70-90% coral bleaching.


But thanks for proving that you don't actually understand what numbers mean in reality. I'll bet you $10k that you're equally shocked, just shocked and horrified when the mass causality reports come rolling in from the impact of this.

And then you'll vote and pat yourself on the back.


-.-

220:

Causality?!?

*cough*

Casualty.


p.s.

Predator Joke of the Week, GS elevator style:

Two Law Graduates in an elevator: "$200k for a trip to Mars? Shit, I've more chances of survival out there than in the current market"

Rule #101 of Snark: don't poke a bear who might actually know what they're talking about.

221:

From memory ~$27ish / tonne. Iceland moving into the market due to sea temp warming driving the shoals north comes to mind, PHD paper, stabilized the cost so that it didn't rise. i.e. Iceland changed from pure direct $ industry to indirect, made up short-falls globally, esp. in west coast S. America.

Oh, and guess what: "Catherine is right again".


*Thwaps puppy on nose with newspaper 'cause he peed on the carpet*

222:

And, hint:

25% decline in a growing industry = problems with base line resources.

Top tip: Wild = ecology, not governed by shitty human systems. Then I watch the average knowledge about ecosystems and even dumb shit like "Alpha Wolf" [doesn't exist, retarded mythology], "Mantis eating mate" [doesn't exist outside of captivity, retarded mythology] and on and on and on.

It's like, "Dude - you do realize that John Wayne wasn't a historical figure, right?"


You've literally no idea about scale. It's fucking amazing to watch. Like, literally: it'd be amusing, if you didn't just fuck the entire planet, your species, all the other species and probably my fucking Mind since I'm trapped down here with you fucking apes by doing so.


If you were a sane species, at this point you'd be doing this:

#1 Using military power (drones, ooooh, look, Sudan, USA managed to do friendly fire with a fucking drone, the UK / Canadian / Australian armed forces are *so* surprised, but I'd bet it's the first FF fuckup blamed on not getting his Starbucks shot in the morning) to stop fishing. Yeah. Not quotas, I mean, 10-20 year total ban.

#2 Making insects (black flies) and waste loops to make up the shortfall in protein [hint: not cultured. Culturing such things requires a medium. Guess what makes a culture medium for protein growth? FUCKING MUPPETS. You're fucking dumb and slow and silly: trust about a 480ma years of evolution over 20 years of shitty little spotty fuckers slurping on VC capital and producing.. grey goop like SOLYENT[tm]. No, srsly: insects actually taste better]

#3 Outlawing any plastic production that wasn't biodegradable / toxic apart from core industries and then getting hard-core about implementing it

#4 Using the *naughty naughty naughty brown note stuff* and and then, well. I suspect we don't need Minds like that anymore, do we? [Hint - this is satire - only the psychotic would not agree to 1-3 when it's like... the future of their species.]

~


Oh, and Host.

We really did blow that shit up. Just don't tell anyone. :p

223:

Oh, and @ host.

#7 Gibson did that whole thing about cloning and space orbital production of Elites.

The Economics of this are Insane. Literally.

They're designed to be.

There's nothing in Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaace currently that is lacking on Earth. [Arguments about mining asteroids for rare metals fall apart instantly when you consider Helium is precious, and someone just found the payload in Africa.]

Helium discovery a 'game-changer' BBC, 28th June, 2016. And yes, the BBC did just use that meme: "Game Changer".

Tanzania?

Oh, wait...

In 2008, there were around the Chinese population in Tanzania was approximately 10,000, but that number has perhaps more than doubled by now. China was Tanzania’s second largest source of foreign investment in 2012 with and influx of around $2.17 billion and Open Data for International Development (AidData) also shows that Beijing has become Tanzania’s largest single trading partner, accounting for 15 per cent of the country’s trade volume in 2012, valued at $2.47 billion.

The Chinese Impact On Tanzania The Market Mogul, 2013 ish.

Oh shit.

Pro-tip: that whole gunboat diplomacy / opium war thing. They really, really, really learnt that lesson.

*watches USA politician bring snow-ball to debate*


Yeah.


Guillotine time.

224:

Since that was the Magic #6 that proved that Elon Musk = Trump while the Players are doing more important things.

**HARD CAST WITCHING SHIT 2016 YOU WANT TO BURN MY MIND, WE'LL BURN YOUR REALITY**

Anyhow, the Light / Dark stuff is so boring [refer further to Russian SF on this, mentioned before, it's altruism / selfishness there] and well, I'm a little bit annoyed at it all and all of the ones breaking reality for cash prizes.

It's not like I didn't just prove that my Mind is... well. It loves H.S.S and it really doesn't want to hurt anyone, but... *nose wiggle*. Not my fault most of your Minds are cess-pools of horror.


Culture Hack Mix:

Noam Chomsky - Unconscious Mentality, Some Speculations YT: Original: 57:44, Sept 2016 (note: ZZZzzz. But it might help you understand a bit of it)

ALIEN YT: Die Antwoord: 4:16, album: MOUNT NINJI AND DA NICE TIME KID

I DON'T CARE YT: same album: 4:44

~

Anyhow.

Combat Enhanced Meta-Cognitive Mind.

Be Seeing You.

All You Need is Love YT: TV Series: The Prisoner. 1:48.


225:

Since we're on the topic, do any of you know the market trends for satellites since the big boosters came online (Ariane V, Delta IV, Atlas V). Have commercial satellites in general gotten bigger, or do those rockets launch multiple small satellites which would have previously taken up a Delta II or an Atlas II? I'm not that familiar with this history, and it would be a check on the big unmet demand for big commercial satellites.

Another thing that's not been mentioned, NEA's. Are there small enough NEAs which one of these boosters could retrieve and bring back to the ground. It doesn't have to be metal-rich. Something tells me the top 1 percent would pay for jewelry made out of "pristine" space rock.

226:

That's not how this works. That's not how this works at all. Holy shit, you people don't even understand how Corporations work. It's like you believed Ayn Rand and so on.

Ok.

Um.

Analogy time: Do you know why / how / who is the major (30%) player in the South Korean MIC market?

Do you even know how the IMF / WHO structured that market? And what they modeled it on?

KAI, formed in 1999 by combining the defense arms of Samsung, Hyundai and Daewoo, is headed by Ha Sung-yong, an energetic marketer who accompanied Park in Peru.

South Korea wants to turn its arms industry into an export powerhouse Business Insider, Uk, 2015 (deliberately shitty link)

Samsung is about ~30% of the entire SK industry. It makes everything from your TVs to fucking robotic artillery.

THAT'S THE AMERICAN WAY.

THAT'S WHAT THE IMF AND THE WORLD BANK AND AMERICA BUILT.


THAT'S THE FUCKING MODEL.
~


The point of Host's post is that Musk is about the only player in this Game whose not up to their Eye-Balls in MIC funding. Sure as shit he's funded by the market (i.e. GS / pension / hedge funds) but not directly. (Yeah, right: hint - even Google is CIA).


EVERY FUCKING SAT UP THERE HAS MILITARY / STATE FUNDS ALL OVER IT AS WELL AS CORPORATIONS (note: +/- 95% accuracy, there's a few NGO / crowd funded, but they sure as shit aren't the important ones).


*Goes and beats Ayn Rand to death with her books again*

~

Whelp. At least we get to beat the myths to death here.

227:

Now the jokes about blood spurting out of your ears [think Scanners etc] might make sense.
Oh, they made perfect sense. This is a sci-fi blog after all, and we're incorrigible fans, pretty familiar with the notion of mind-reconfiguration nanotechnology, alien or otherwise. Blood out the ears would be a bit gaudy, though. I would expect lesser symptoms, which other paranoid people can enumerate. :-)

---
שנה טובה‎‎ - Shanah Tova to all who care (back from services myself)


228:

And, you little children: Samsung, Hyundai and Daewoo

If asked what they produce, you're gonna list: TVs, Cars, Electronics. Perhaps a few other items, all nicely innocent.

Not: Advanced Battlefield Technology.

THAT'S THE FUCKING MODEL.

LITERALLY. THAT'S HOW THE MODERN CORPORATION WORKS.


SOUTH KOREA IS LITERALLY THE WORLD BANK / IMF / USA TESTING AREA FOR THIS SHIT.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songdo_International_Business_District


*Explodes that you don't already know this shit*

229:

Aww, ffs.

יוֹם תְּרוּעָה

You've ruined my cover of angry white male Trump supporter.

*nose wiggle*


~


Bleh, love you all.

230:

Ahh.

Long long post with a lot of old school stuff in just "closed itself". Probably shouldn't be posting such things, esp. with Aramaic and old arguments over Sadducees etc. [Note: rude].
~

Still.

We'll say this: your religion is a young one, and we hate the patriarchal dominance that came to blind it (and your G_D). We still think most of you rock and are fun and good peeps though.

We hark back to about 12,000 years ago. Back when big hips, full breasts and an acceptance of ecology was the real deal. [That's a lie: we were old then, and so on. Shit, Orion was a thing I was when I was already old - Loki and so on. You roll the bones / dice / chance / computer code, I exist: but not Loki, I'm the other one. The friendly hand / hug / so on that pulls the reality back and secures you. Irony: not sure you have a Name for Me now ~ and that's true].

231:

>>Back when big hips, full breasts and an acceptance of ecology was the real deal.

This In Harmony with Nature trope is such a pile of shit. No one understood or accepted ecology before the last few decades. Māori ate the moas in a couple of centuries. Prehistoric Americans hunted all the American megafauna to extinction, without any modern technology or any regard to sustainability. And so on and so forth.

And, anyway, 99% of all species that ever existed are extinct. Extinctions are natural.

232:

Isn't this supposed to be a multi-person discussion?

See posts 218-224 + 226-230 filled with screaming.
[ Yes, there is SOME content in there, but really ... ]

233:

Isn't this supposed to be a multi-person discussion?

That's Catina Diamond. They are either a crazy person or a markov chain generator that infects this site...

234:

This In Harmony with Nature trope is such a pile of shit.

Could be, it can certainly be cloying as a trope. I doubt CT was/is in thrall to such things though. That seems to be partly her point.

No one understood or accepted ecology before the last few decades.

Strong claim and not really true without a pretty forced interpretation over a bunch of candidate counterexamples (out of scope to enumerate). You show a couple of examples and claim universality. Formally, a single counterexample disproves such a claim and I suspect you would choose a weaker one if you were in possession of a more detailed appreciation of context.

Extinctions are natural.

There's a thing called calculus, you might have heard of it. Among other things it can help you understand the difference between an undulating hillside and a brick wall.

235:

If asked what they produce, you're gonna list: TVs, Cars, Electronics. Perhaps a few other items, all nicely innocent.

In the case of Samsung, at least, I'd have pitched in Really Big Ships and also Really Big Diesel Engines. But that's most likely a different division to the one you have in mind.

236:

Honestly, after the last one, I'd think they might send something like 5 middling complex ones because although Philae didn't exactly fail no one would say it was 100% successful either. You would hope they'd learn from that mistake.

It requires a change in the mindset, granted, but if this works, it changes the economics of this kind of mission and there are some smart cookies out there working on these kinds of projects.

237:

I hope the lander is designed to land on and take off from earth

AIUI it is designed to land on Earth when used as an escape vehicle; whether or not this means that it can take off again (is in a physical condition to do so) and/or completes said landing with sufficient fuel to perform a "useful hop", never mind an orbital insertion, is another matter from the landing itself!

238:
Target cost *per booster launch* is under $2M, including amortization, propellant, launch services, and maintenance.

The keyword there is "target". First couple of dozen launches? Not so much.

Yes, but you wrote:

the cost per launch for an ITS stack is targeting around $200M

I was correcting that. We're both talking about targets. The target cost per launch for an ITS stack is under $4M: $10K per ton to LEO. I've been watching the launch industry since the late 70s, and have few illusions about what's likely to happen to this target.

While I'm at it: let's be clear about the mission profile, which does *not* include anything in Mars orbit. The BFS is designed to aerobrake at Mars, from transfer orbit direct to powered landing. It returns direct from Mars surface to Earth aerobrake. If this Mars program wants to put things in Mars orbit (and they totally will) then they might be able to vary the profile so that it aerobrakes from transfer orbit to orbit, deploys, then aerobrakes again to powered landing, but that is more costly in delta-V. An alternative is to fuel a BFS on the surface of Mars, launch it to Mars orbit, deploy the things, then re-enter. But at present there is no Mars orbit in the profile, and no Earth orbit on the return trip.

239:

You've never tried to, ah, perform without having a physical grip on your partner? I wasn't thinking about the prospect of holding your partner, but about the dynamics of performing without either of you holding the other since I was trying to come up with more that was "new" than any differences in the curvature of boobs caused by the removal of gravity pulling them into a catenary.

240:

The reason I harp on about the target cost to orbit is that if they do hit $10k/ton for the fully reusable stack, or even $100k/ton, rather than the $400k/ton number ($200M for 500 tons: it's unclear to me where that came from but I guess it's approximately the fab cost for the BFR, so most of the cost for an *expendable* stack) then all the other numbers follow suit, and the chatter on here about orbital hotels and tourism, lunar projects, comet missions, outer planet exploration, asteroid mining, everything: it all changes again, radically.
I bet a mature package tourism industry will be capable of a week in an orbital hotel for under 250kg, amortised. At $10k/ton, that's $2.5k plus cost of materials. Even at $100k/ton, it's $25k.

241:

Re food system catastrophe. CT infected me with a saying that I'm fond of repeating elsewhere: "Time, Space and Scale: You're not good at them". So let's add another one. "Hint: It's not about the USA". In English language internet discussions, I really wish commenters would internalise that and consider that what they're about to say might be another instance where it applies. There are 4.5b-ish people in Asia and they're very dependent on direct consumption of each year's harvest of 2 staple crops, Wheat and Rice. A couple of year's bad harvests due to weirding weather is going to make the Irish potato famine look like the teddy bear's picnic. No amount of market dynamics is going to change that. It's not about maize in the USA. It's about wheat in Russia/India and rice in the whole of S, E and SE Asia.

242:

[ DELETED BY MODERATOR -- reason: rudeness to another contributor ]

243:

Using military power ... to stop fishing.

I note that Indonesia is ahead of the ball in this game. Probably because they're directly impacted in their own coastal waters, but hey.

Making insects (black flies) and waste loops to make up the shortfall in protein

I'm pretty sure it'll happen. Initially as animal feed to replace soy in cattle fodder -- it'll take a while to get western consumers adjusted to it, and it'll be heavily processed into something like TVP with happy smiley cartoon animal marketing at first.

(Ignore Soylent; it's a marketing trick aimed at idiot twenty-somethings in SF convinced that burning the candle at both ends for 100 hours a week will make them millionaires by the time they're thirty, rather than burn-out basket cases with no future in an industry with systematic ageism baked in along with the misogyny.)

Outlawing any plastic production that wasn't biodegradable

Note the idea of taxing carrier bags is spreading. I expect this one to go global, but it'll follow about the same adoption curve as the idea that cigarettes are bad for you (kicking and screaming all the way, because entrenched petrochemical industry lobbying dollars will be flung at keeping plastics in play as long as possible because of falling oil sales as fuel for prime movers).

244:

FYI, I've given up responding to Ioan on anything relating to space; their misconceptions are so vast and all-embracing I don't have the energy or time to address them.

I will note that studying the history of civil aviation is quite enlightening. In the UK, the big-ass Handley-Page airliners of the 1920s were overtly about empire-building, making it possible to move administrators between London and Delhi in single-digit days: in the USA, despite the fanfare and hoo-rah and mail plane services it was principally in service to military needs. Compare the lineage of the Boeing 247 with the B-17 bomber, for example. And Nazi Germany is the prime example: all those bombers that started out as fast mail delivery planes (Heinkel-111) or airliners (Fw-200 Condor).

We have big-ass airports and jet airliners today because WW2 left heavy bomber bases with concrete aprons all over the world that could take them; the long-haul pattern pre-1939 was trending towards seaplanes. Then the airports got an upgrade to take the wide-bodies in the late 1960s, around the time the Pentagon was relying increasingly on airlift to supply forces in Vietnam and Germany: the Boeing 747 evolved after all from Boeing's bid for the C-5 Galaxy contract.

Space is no different.

245:

>>Space is no different.

So, are you saying we need another Cold War to push things forwards, I mean, upwards?

Russia is not up to the task. PRC, maybe?

246:

No: I suspect we're past that point. Remember, the civil space freight industry a few years ago hit parity with civil air freight in terms of gross revenue.

Beyond a certain threshold actual organic demand for the product begins to drive growth, and I think we're quite close to that point -- not thanks to this Mars stuff, but thanks to Musk having disrupted the satellite launch business by adding landing struts and flyback to an otherwise not-unconventional-looking booster.

247:

If it only costs 100M to get 500 tonnes into LEO then I find myself thinking of a guy I know who bought a space for a matchbox-sat weighing a few grams for about a thousand dollars.

(looking it up apparently it would have qualified for the term "Femtosatellite")

If I can get a kilo of hardware into LEO for 200 dollars then it would be reasonably economical for for hobbyists to put a 10 kg sat in LEO for a few thousand dollars even accounting for a 100% profit margin for the company.

At that point you might realistically get a really large number of amateurs involved and in a lot of fields you get a surprising boost from a horde of amateurs coming up with dollar store alternatives to million dollar systems. If the tin-can lab equipment I've seen people come up to substitute for $10K bits of lab equipments in biotech is anything to go by then we'd likely see a lot of nutty-but-works neat little hacks for ways to keep satellites up longer for less money and lots of hard to predict but neat little applications which would never make it past a funding review board.

I know it's vague to just say "obsessive hobbyists will do stuff that we're not going to be easily able to predict" but it's a common pattern and a thousand obsessive hobbyists come up with things that would never occur to a few dozen tenured professors.

248:

I wouldn't worry about helium - there's more of it in the atmosphere than xenon, and I have played with a xenon filled balloon. £20 a pop...

249:

Satellites have gotten both bigger and smaller. Comms satellites in GEO are tending towards bigger -- an Intelsat bird launched a couple of years ago was over 6 tonnes, too heavy for a SpaceX Falcon launch. It flew on an Ariane V with a small GEO satellite and the SYLDA twin-satellite carrier.

GEO satellites are tending towards bigger because they are being designed for longer lifespans, fifteen years and more in orbit with very large solar arrays, lots more downlink broadcast channels and lots of manoeuvering fuel to maintain position and eventually move them into their graveyard orbit at end-of-life. A BDB like Falcon Heavy or the ITS isn't going to be much use for that use profile since there are only a limited number of orbital slots for GEO operations.

As for "big mirrors in space" the James Webb telescope is being prepped to launch on a regular Ariane V flight in 2018. It has a folding segmented 6.5 metre mirror, ten times the collecting surface of the Hubble and any NRO spybird but it will only weigh 6.6 tonnes including manoeuvering fuel load. Folding multi-segment mirror systems are not as difficult as making a lightweight single-surface mirror of the same size and have it survive a 3-4G launch with accompanying vibration.

The NRO/NSA don't want bigger observation platforms in space in part because they are too easily observable from the ground. The birds they're flying today are heavy because of the amounts of manoeuvering fuel they carry on launch, not because of the size of their optics - a spysat does a lot of manoeuvering in its lifetime.

There's no reason the spook agencies couldn't fly a multi-segmented mirror like the James Webb telecope if they really wanted to, heck they could even fold it up to hide the satellite more easily when not in use, and it would still fit inside the Delta 4 Heavy launch profile of 24 tonnes to LEO.

250:

500 tonne payload of small ball bearings deployed in retrograde orbit

251:

Except clearing up orbital debris runs no risk of damaging ecosystems; one of the big questions for plastic cleanup is how to make a filter that extracts plastic without extracting all sea life that enters its ambit.

252:

>>500 tonne payload of small ball bearings deployed in retrograde orbit

Won't do as much damage as you think they will. All the ball bearings will move in roughly the same orbit. You could destroy all the GSO satellites, for example, which will really suck, but you cannot destroy all satellites.

253:

Well, it's all a bit moot if the world is going to end 31st of December 2016, isn't it?

254:

I wouldn't worry about helium - there's more of it in the atmosphere than xenon

Yes. But we don't get the helium we use by extracting it from the atmosphere. It comes from oil and gas well heads. Where it exists. The US for decades had a lot of it. [1] [2] Now not so much. The field referenced in the BBC article was the first new big find in a while.

Xenon is heavy compared to most of what's in the atmosphere and thus hangs out down low. Helium not so much.

[1] The US had most of the worlds reserves in the 20s and 30s which is one big reason the zeppelins use hydrogen.
[2] I wonder just how much of He in the air is from it just venting off of well heads. over the last 150 years.

255:

Space cemeteries. It's dumb, but people will pay to have their remains buried or stored in special places. I think there will be a market for people to be cremated and their ashes sent into space.

256:

Re: 'If the tin-can lab equipment I've seen people come up to substitute for $10K bits of lab equipments in biotech' ... roared when a scientist I know showed me some cobbled-together 'back-up' equipment which gets used fairly regularly because some university labs are in older buildings with really really crappy power supplies.

Also, not just amateurs but recent (jobless) grads, retired researchers, etc.

257:

There already is; The Spaceloft XL, Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 are 3 of the boosters which have been used for this purpose.

258:

I think those posts ARE a multi-person discussion.

259:

Or a LIGO in space...

260:

LIGO in space is something I would really like to see. I'm not convinced it needs a particularly big booster though.

261:

Re: '... problem with development after the blastocyst stage, from lack of chemical convection.'

Very scary.

Seems like a very rational thing to know in advance of trying to set up any permanent Lunar or Mars colony ... critical values of gravity at different stages of development/maturation. So, space-platforms (stages along a space elevator, for example) at varying heights/Gs would enable research into how gravity affects embryonic* development.

Given this conduction-driven chemistry of life: How successful' is getting pregnant in space? Those are some pretty big 'molecules' that have to wrap around and/or align with each other just so otherwise pretty grim consequences.


* I'm guessing that embryonic stem cell research in a zero-G space-lab would also experience problems if massive molecules need gravity in order to do their jobs correctly, i.e., as intended.

262:

Would one just need a constellation of 3 satellites per LIGO? One for the source/splitter, and the other two with reflectors. So yeah, it probably doesn't need much more mass than communication satellites. One might want to place it far from earth, to have more stable arms.

I think the main advantage of a space LIGO is that you lose all the other noise in the signal, earthquakes, ocean waves, road traffic, etc.

263:

Would one just need a constellation of 3 satellites per LIGO?

That would do it. Note that a technology pathfinder/demonstrator is in orbit as we speak.

http://lisa.nasa.gov/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolved_Laser_Interferometer_Space_Antenna

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LISA_Pathfinder

264:

"In orbit" = in a halo orbit around SEL-1, some 1.5 gigameters from here.

265:

One source/splitter and two reflectors is what you'd want for detecting gravity waves in two dimensions. Surely the point of doing it in space is to go full 3D on the problem? Four satellites? (One source/splitter and three reflectors?)

Also, put up multiple gravitational interferometers, a considerable distance (multiple AU) apart? To give higher resolution?

266:

Let's see, since I covered a lot of it in my original post (55), let me take on a couple of comments.

First, it would not be Space Shuttle 1.0. Actually, the Air Force's X-37. It was *supposed* to be a lot smaller, and not carry lots of cargo, just passengers. Now, a co-worker/friend on mine in the mid-eighties told me that he had a friend at Rockwell, and the reason for the massive scale-up was the Pentagon's insistence on it being able to carry a specified number of nuclear "devices". For real.

Second: why on (or off) Earth does everyone remember Dyson' Orion, big bangs? No, the correct way to at least start with nuclear is to have a booster that can get you at least into the Van Allen Belts (1609 km, or 1k mi), and then fire the nuclear engine... based on NERVA.

Hmm, interesting question I need to ask on a techie mailing list I'm on: NERVA used water, I believe. Once it got moving fast enough, I wonder if you could scoop space debris, dust, and gas and use that as fuel.

mark

267:

Xenon is heavy compared to most of what's in the atmosphere and thus hangs out down low. Helium not so much.

Do you have a citation for that? AIUI stable gases are pretty well mixed throughout the troposphere. The heavier ones don't pool near the bottom any more than the sugar dissolved in a rum and coke falls to the bottom of the glass. Like sugar, water, and alcohol they're all mutually miscible and don't spontaneously separate. (True, helium is light enough to reach escape velocity in the uppermost near-vacuum of the atmosphere and xenon isn't, but that's not the same thing.)

I agree with Dirk that critical cryogenic applications could be supplied by reverting to atmospheric extraction of helium. As an intermediate step I expect to see better efforts at recycling in cryogenic applications. For an example of what happens when an exotic gas suddenly gets much more expensive, read about what happened to neon pricing and uses in the wake of supply crunches due to Ukrainian fighting.

268:

> Surely the point of doing it in space is to go full 3D on the problem?

More, at least initially, to get longer baselines (=> sensitivity) and less noise.

> Also, put up multiple gravitational interferometers, a considerable distance (multiple AU) apart? To give higher resolution?

Well, yes, the more the merrier. Current plans call for three to start with, but as experience accumulates and technology progresses it's easy to imagine more extensive configurations.

269:

>>500 tonne payload of small ball bearings deployed in retrograde orbit

Won't do as much damage as you think they will. All the ball bearings will move in roughly the same orbit. You could destroy all the GSO satellites, for example, which will really suck, but you cannot destroy all satellites.

RETROGRADE is the word you have to keep in mind. It means that the ball bearings are moving in the opposite direction. Your satellite is going from east to west. Dirk's ball bearings go from west to east.
Your sat's speed is +/- 7.8 km/s. Same for the bearings, only in the opposite direction. When they meet you add up 7.8 + 7.8 = 15.6 km/s is the velocity with which the ball bearings will hit your satellite. Bye bye satellite.

270:

Yes, and for that the ball bearings need to be in the same orbit as the satellite (just moving in the opposite direction).

271:

Hmm, interesting question I need to ask on a techie mailing list I'm on: NERVA used water, I believe. Once it got moving fast enough, I wonder if you could scoop space debris, dust, and gas and use that as fuel.

Bussard ramjet.

272:

Yes. But we don't get the helium we use by extracting it from the atmosphere. It comes from oil and gas well heads. Where it exists.

Not disagreeing, just adding. Don't have a cite for it but have assumed for decades that helium in such deposits is the result of alpha particles (uranium?) and time, lots of it, and a cap that holds it in while it accumulates. A cap that holds natural gas/oil in will also hold helium. So there may well be other large deposits, and perhaps some not associated with oil and natural gas. It renews rather slowly though.
Is this wrong?


273:

OK. And I should have mentioned that the remote brains need a radio (well, EM) link. When I was writing it I though it obvious, but when rereading ... I never would have let writing like that into my user guide.

274:

שנה טובה ומבורכת

275:

All correct. Uranium, thorium and their decay chains. So there is a steady production of it, at a fixed rate (on human timescales), and we will never actually run out. It'll just get harder to get hold of arbitrary quantities of it, so maybe operators of superconducting magnets will have to direct the quench vent into a great big bag, which they ought to be doing already, instead of venting it to atmosphere and posting the videos on youtube like a bunch of massive GNU Image Manipulation Programs.

The American "we've got all the helium" thing was IIRC mainly because they found a gas reservoir that was only about 12% methane and the rest helium, or some such proportion. Most of that has now been used.

276:

Disagree. You didn't make a valid argument, you just stated your opinion.

FWIW, I don't consider Mars a valid end-goal either, as a self-sustaining colony on Mars is probably going to be quite difficult until we get the closed ecology thing licked, but it's an extremely useful waypoint. In my opinion the real point is space habitats on the large side, and with their own propulsion systems...granted, not enough to allow them to achieve orbital velocity except perhaps on Ceres. I'm thinking ion rockets that can eat stone. (Magnesium, etc. are fine as a starting place, but it would be a lot better if you didn't need to refine the fuel.) This probably means fusion reactors, but might be doable with fission. The problem with fission reactors is refueling. Hydrogen is easy to get in space, Uranium and Thorium much less so. And I'm thinking of long term stability and independence not only of Sol system governments, but also of Sol system resources. There are a lot of small wandering bodies out in space, they're just quite thinly spread.

For an analog image, imagine polynesian migrations where they take their entire island with them.

And the Mars colony could well be the spur to developing the (nearly) closed ecosystem that would make this possible.

277:

Why use steel balls (a ball bearing is an assembly of such balls in between races) when you can use sand? Cheaper, lighter, more particles, and no point even thinking of magnetic sweeping methods.

278:

Were she really non-human, she'd have an excellent reason to avoid all contact with governments. But also to avoid drawing attention to herself by posting. Of course, since people aren't exactly rational it's not reasonable to expect an alien to be either.

279:

>>>Why use steel balls (a ball bearing is an assembly of such balls in between races) when you can use sand? Cheaper, lighter, more particles, and no point even thinking of magnetic sweeping methods.

Mass matters. Heavier objects deliver more energy to the target and penetrate deeper.

280:

If you were going to pull a stunt like that I think there would be a moral imperative to use balls made of lots of different elements so that the folks on the ground get nicely coloured meteors when they re enter the atmosphere.

281:

You're assuming that lots of technology stays approximately stable. I don't think this is reasonable.

OTOH, just about ANY space civilization is going to be strongly controlled. I don't want to use the term authoritarian here, because I'm expecting the control to come from computer optimizers who are trying to do the best for the colony given the current environment. This is a lot different in a lot of ways from authoritarian control with a human dictator/monarch. You aren't going to get any libertarian paradise, but you might get something like the Septagon. This, of course, depends not only on the environment, but also on the controlling program.

You said "strongly oriented towards civil defense" and that's correct, but gives the wrong impression. Civil defense normally means disaster recovery, but this is going to be more about disaster prevention, with recovery only when it fails, and which will be seen as a failure.

Even so, it's not going to be pleasant at the start, and nobody should think it will be. If for no other reason, because one can expect the population to be highly dominated by men, with very few women. This always causes problems, however it come about.

282:

Nope: given the kinetic energy that even a 10mg particle carries at 2x orbital velocity, it doesn't make a lot of difference -- a sand grain packs the punch of a heavy machine-gun bullet, and satellites aren't armoured.

283:

"Jellyfish aren't tasty"

I'm not sure about that. I had some jellyfish sushi that was quite good. I don't know how it was processed, or whether they only used part of the jellyfish, or only some particular kind...and it was so expensive that I've never felt like ordering it again...but it *was* quite good.

That said, many fish eat jelly fish. So to squid and octopi. The problem is probably more the increasingly acid ocean making it more expensive to grow bones. What we need are some sharks that reproduce rapidly and are designed to eat jellyfish. The hard part if probably the fast reproduction, but if genetic technology advances a bit more that might be quite doable. Or possibly Tuna that are cartilaginous.

The plastic is a bit of a puzzle. The problem seems to mainly be the shapes that it takes. If you're small enough it seems to be a net benefit. Lots of plankton seem to do better around it. Some animals use it to attach their eggs to. Etc. But if you're large enough to swallow a loop of plastic (or get caught in it) you are likely to have problems.

But overfishing is a worse problem than the plastics are by several orders of magnitude, and ocean acidification may be even worse.

284:

Aside from the fact that building three of them would increase the already huge cost...

Fixing that would require something well out of the orbital plane of the sun's planetary system. The cost of placing that one observatory there would probably dwarf the cost of the other two. And to get a real coverage would require four observatories so that you could get a fix in all directions. You'd probably want the corners of a regular tetrahedron to simplify calculations.

I think asking for two of them is already so far beyond the bounds of reason that I don't need to go any further.

285:

Actually they don't need to be moving in the same orbit, although that sure makes hitting the target easier. But any orbit that intersects should do. And why use ball bearings rather than pea gravel? It's heavy enough and the pieces are a bit smaller, so you get better coverage. Even sand might work, though that's a bit dubious. Bird shot would probably be nearly optimum, but you'd want the finest available so you get the most pieces/unit weight.

So all you need to do is loft your package into some point that the orbit of the target satellite passes through and then set off a small charge to spread the birdshot. Each one of them will return to the site of detonation once/orbit. It will shoot down the satellite in some orbit or other. The problem is it will also wipe out a bunch of other orbits.

286:

Who do you imagine will launch 500 tonnes of ball bearings for you?

The US government would treat an attempt to deny them access to the GEO belt pretty much as they would treat an attempt to deny them access to Puerto Rico. One of the major space powers could do it, but you won't be launching anything on Elon Musk's BDB that the US government hasn't vetted.

287:

But as I said at 142, this also demonstrates that there isn't much demand for satellites twice as big at the current $/kg price: nobody is filling up an Ariane 5 with one big GEO satellite. (Though there is a trend towards bigger in that the Ariane 5 has improved over the last 20 years, leading to the maximum payload mass growing by about 50%.) Consequently Ariane 6 is being designed with two variants, 6-4 which will be a direct replacement for the 5, and 6-2 which will have half the capacity (replacing Soyuz at CSG).

We're seeing the first all-Electric Propulsion GEO comms satellites. This could either lead to more comms capability for the same launch mass or same capability as current generation but lighter. I'm not sure whether it's clear yet which way the industry will go on this.

288:

Verse 252. And I quote:

All the ball bearings will move in roughly the same orbit.

289:

But also weak, or else mildly rebellious but not willing to be properly rebellious. If they were strong, it would be sad and amusing to watch the governments trying to take hold of them for their own purposes, and getting slaughtered.

290:

NERVA used hydrogen.

291:

a sand grain packs the punch of a heavy machine-gun bullet, and satellites aren't armoured.

At least once the shuttle had to replace a window due to a small divot made by a paint fleck.

292:

Don't have a cite for it but have assumed for decades that helium in such deposits is the result of alpha particles (uranium?) and time, lots of it, and a cap that holds it in while it accumulates. A cap that holds natural gas/oil in will also hold helium. So there may well be other large deposits, and perhaps some not associated with oil and natural gas.

Yes. But most of the helium in the use today was a by product of oil and gas wells. And a LOT was just vented. So there was no real exploration costs factored into the price. If we have to start drilling for He then expect the price to go up. Which means people might really consider extraction from the air.

As to He vs. Xe. Yes I agree that He doesn't immediately head for space and Xe sink into pits. But they do gradually move in that direction. He does not sit around at ground level when "freed".

293:

All the ball bearings will move in roughly the same orbit.

Initially yes, but you'll need some kind of bursting charge as mentioned elsewhere which will start the orbits diverging. For maximum fun you launch prograde and take a trip round the moon to get into an elliptical retrograde orbit, do a burn partway back to lower the apogee and deploy.

294:

Keep listening to those Die Antwoord songs. Mainly just for the rythyms now; is there a genre involved or are they unique? If I ever host a Halloween bash again Die Antwoord will be in the mix.

295:

But yes, in the final analysis Musk hasn't invented something new; he's just figured out how the hell to sell us the stuff we knew we needed but were too timid to buy.

Very like The Donald and his target market, but enough said about that.

But why do we need this stuff (large payload capability)? Tourism alone? That doesn't lead anywhere. Tourists are fickle and fashion-conscious. (Imaginary Yogi Berra: "Nobody gets married in space any more. There are too many weddings there all the time.")

The trend in everything else is miniaturisation. (It'll be interesting to check back on Rocket Lab in a year's time. Their business model is more or less the opposite of Musk's: small, frequently launched (twice a week, if there's demand), cheap disposable boosters for modular sats, designed for the needs of the science community. Inclined orbits. Web-based booking system.)

296:

But why do we need this stuff (large payload capability)

I read this as more about electric cars and batteries for the cars and for home use plus solar that is more universal than today. He wants the profits from that to help fund the fun project of going to Mars. And the solar, batteries, and cars fit nicely into the Mars plans.

With a side of autonomous operations experience to use on Mars.

297:

Miniaturisation: definitely. At the IAC conference that Musk made his announcement at there was an entire track on small sats. The underlying drivers are the same as iPhones and everything else: with modern electronics you can do everything in a fraction of the mass.

RocketLabs may be doing fine, but one of the other companies developing a small launcher less so over the last week, two months after doing a full-duration combustor test:
http://spacenews.com/firefly-space-systems-furloughs-staff-after-investor-backs-out/

298:

...so maybe operators of superconducting magnets will have to direct the quench vent into a great big bag, which they ought to be doing already, instead of venting it to atmosphere and posting the videos on youtube
Thanks. (Personal note: I should work through such guess-based beliefs systematically and clean them up.)
Superconducting magnets (MRI machines etc) seem to be the main critical use; many other applications could use other inert gases instead. Does anyone have a high-temperature superconducting magnets for beginners reference? (Wikipedia mentions 100000 papers on HT superconductivity.)

299:

It's not about maize in the USA. It's about wheat in Russia/India and rice in the whole of S, E and SE Asia.
Quite so. Although the wheat-growing regions in NE Asia, North America and Europe are also important, and soy in South America and wheat and rice Australia sometimes make a contribution.

There is a huge area of arable land in Africa which has productivities about two orders of magnitude below European levels, for lack of globally trivial amounts of investment.

It's been ten years or so since I looked at this in depth and modelled what it would take for food supply disruption in the next century to be civilization-threatening, but the result was that it'd take a lotto-winning set of natural events. (Volcanism is the most likely. Bioweapons, it appears, are extremely hard to deploy at the necessary scale, especially without states noticing. And global thermonuclear war, by far the most likely civilization-threatening event, is not a food supply problem. On the other hand, if the world continues putting up walls along borders, we could well see a return of regional famines.)

300:

I don't think it's that scary (in 0 G it can be solved with a centrifuge - 2001 Space Odyssey method), but I was just highlighting one of the many technical details that space cadets tend to paper over. It simply adds some mass and complexity to the setup.

The real problem is radiation: shielding needs to be massive, in space or on any planet without a serious magnetic field and atmosphere.

Out of earth colonization only makes sense if we damage the planet to Venusian levels of runaway hothouse effect (quite unlikely, I believe), or if we are no more human (AI, robots ?)

Here the take of someone who is not to impressed by Musk ideas:
http://www.realclearfuture.com/articles/2016/09/28/elon_musks_ticket_to_nowhere_111943.html

But if we get cheaper photovoltaics and cheaper satellites out of his Howard Hughes levels of billionaire madness, it is still a better deal than spending $1 trillion over the F35 (lifetime estimate according to what I read, the cost overrun alone is at least 200 billions - a lot more than the total spending over SpaceX and Tesla so far).

301:
First, it would not be Space Shuttle 1.0. Actually, the Air Force's X-37. It was *supposed* to be a lot smaller, and not carry lots of cargo, just passengers. Now, a co-worker/friend on mine in the mid-eighties told me that he had a friend at Rockwell, and the reason for the massive scale-up was the Pentagon's insistence on it being able to carry a specified number of nuclear "devices". For real.

The original STS Phase A designs had the orbiter carrying cargo, just not as much as the eventual design. The NASA budget cuts of the 1970s forced them to go to the USAF/NRO for funding. The USAF needed to launch huge NRO reconnaissance satellites, so the orbiter was expanded. And then NASA realized there was no way the budget would cover reusable boosters, or even a modified expendable S-IC first stage.

The Pentagon did explore using the Shuttle for nuclear delivery but it was just a paper exercise and never seriously considered. What was the point when we had numerous advanced nuclear delivery systems scheduled for deployment in the 1980s?

302:

LIGO in space, multiple AU

I'm all for this. We need to get out where it's gravitationally quieter to have a go at the Dark Matter problem. Past Neptune at the very least.

303:

Actually, I suspect you're wrong: bioweapons are ridiculously easy to deploy, when it comes to crop killers. The problem is that you can't stop the damn things once you've deployed them.

To answer the question of why the terrorists have never deployed, say, wheat stem rust (Puccinia graminis) in the US or anywhere else is that they like to eat too. Once a highly resistant fungus is released, sooner or later it's going to attack the crops that feed you.

The number of crops you could nuke with fungi is mind boggling. Actually it's not. It's all of them. Most Asian rubber is basically clonal trees that have been known for 50 years to be exquisitely vulnerable to fungi. Ditto bananas. Chocolate's vulnerable, corn's vulnerable, manioc's vulnerable, potatoes are quite vulnerable (the potato seed labs are in areas where the blight can't grow, and I'm not going to tell you where they are). And so on. Polyculture is a reasonable solution, but unfortunately, it's not very compatible with industrial systems that work on optimization of specific crop traits.

While I mostly agree that it's hard to destroy global civilization by attacking crops first, things could get pretty ugly if someone really was that stupid. The hardest part is that if they did it anonymously, they would be hard to catch. It's been speculated that the eucalyptus borers made it to California through an act of monkeywrenching, but so far, no one has stepped forward to take credit, and bugs don't retain fingerprints.

In the near-ish future, I suspect we're going to see more trouble as groundwater depletion becomes an increasing problem in more big farming areas. The Ogallala aquifer area is only going to be producing crops for another 20-40 years before that aquifer is depleted, and we're going to have to cut back California's crop production by ~3 million acres in the next 10-20 years. China's got the same problems, as does the Middle East, and apparently eastern Australia's in worse shape than California. Add to that a crop-killing plague, and things would get interesting.

304:

Thank you. Not Jewish, or religious, more questioning goy with enough vocalized non-normative interpretations to indirectly launch more than one debate on rabbinical discussion groups.

305:

Since this rotting hulk is still around [and ty host/mod who perhaps pruned some ~ ahem wilder posts], Time to throw some really good stuff in:

Long March 7 carried a small fleet of satellites and experiments, including the Aolong-1 spacecraft, which carries the English name "Roaming Dragon". This satellite sports a robot arm, designed to grapple other satellites for de-orbiting.

China has launched a robot space garbageman. It's about time. Space debris is a growing problem, and more countermeasures must be taken to combat this threat. De-orbiting satellites with robots is a useful option in some cases.

Chinese Space Garbageman is not a Weapon Space Daily, 28th June 2016


You can parse this three ways:

#1 It's totally a weapon
#2 It's a clean-up job / sorry for that little Kessler ground-to-orbit stunt that polluted a huge part of the sky
#3 It's a PR job to pretend to say sorry for said little stunt


Note the author: Australian and has a decent reputation in such circles.

~

The congressman now faces a heated 2016 reelection campaign in his district — the home of SpaceX's biggest competitor, United Launch Alliance (ULA), which is itself a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Records show that Coffman has publicly accepted more than $51,000 in campaign donations from Lockheed Martin during his career.

Coffman has also publicly supported ULA.

House Republicans don't want SpaceX investigating its own 'troubling' rocket failures Business Insider, 30th Sept 2016. (And yes: of course he's the R-rep for the state that houses ULA, derp le derp - note ~ I created the Conspiracy Theory without even knowing all this, it's just such an obvious play-book move-set).


Look, the real point of this is that if a Mentally Broken Monster like me can parse the moves you're going to make about two weeks before you do them, you need to fucking retire already.

The whole thing is a shambles and painfully embarrassing for the non-drooling to watch.


OH, wait: Watches entire world sue America due to Senate / Congress over-riding a Presidential veto as a political stunt while pretending that a defunding 'stop the government' protest was somehow moral in the last two months of a fucking election.

The real issue here is that they don't understand how you break shit like this [too many golf rounds, cheating or otherwise] and look like total fucking muppets fumbling around while they try to. [And, yeah: CIA etc, too much time spent on soft South American targets. Tee-fucking-hee].


THAT'S WHY THEY CALL THE PROFESSIONALS TO REALLY FUCK SHIT UP.

~

Keep listening to those Die Antwoord songs. Mainly just for the rythyms now; is there a genre involved or are they unique? If I ever host a Halloween bash again Die Antwoord will be in the mix.

Die Antwood is tough to parse. It's SA deliberate Identity reinvention (so much so that the Nazi Fashionistas luuurv them and embraced them, esp. Paris Fashion Lot) with a lot of other mimetic stuff thrown in, coupled with actually, you know, existing in that rarefied 'paparazzi sphere' of fame.

Put it this way: The Male is 100% ex Boy Band material, but his reinvention was self-driven. The Female is much much more interesting.

The shock? Well, it's all a bit Middle-Class now [although check earlier stuff with a vomiting Lady Gaga look a like. Oh, she's vomiting semen by the way]. The Satanist imagery as ironic critique of US moral standards is just another realm of ZZzz.

And yes, it's kind of a genre. You'd probably have to go to a township to get the real experience though.

306:

We Noticed. Trust Me, We Noticed.

Which is why, perchance, you got a cod-piece Gaia response*.


Hint: using the word "goy" is about the most telling thing you can ever do on the intarweb, or at least the most-unsubtle "'Lady, Tips Fedora" attempt at getting down with the kids.

Pro-tip: the ones you're aping don't act like that, they're self-aware, even if a bit autistic.

@ #231

And, anyway, 99% of all species that ever existed are extinct.


You seriously didn't see this trap coming, did you?

TIME: YOU'RE NOT GOOD AT IT.

6th Extinction Event, Climate Change, the #1 sign you're food is when you can't do the whole temporal aspect of it.


*makes :sadpanda: face at you*


Nomnomnomnom.

307:

Ugh.

Let's just say, without getting too [REDACTED] that the death of amphibians and many insect groups as a by-product of industrial farming and Australian paranoid sniffer dogs over importing produce are related.

Hint: THEY FUCKING WIPED OUT MOST OF THE VECTORS, DELIBERATELY.

This is a Conspiracy Theory.

No-one would be insane enough to wipe out entire ecologies to prevent a bio-weapon attack.

Nope.

Didn't happen at least four times in recent history.

Nope.

No-one would imagine and plan such a thing then merge with fucking Bayer, that old Nazi stalwart.

La-La-Land.

*Oh Look, Mosquitoes and Zika!*

~

Punch-line: it's the only sane explanation for the biocide of the last 50 years. Game Theory states that if it wasn't done deliberately, then you're fucking inept psychopaths instead of just, well: psychopaths. And we'd never believe that.

*Throws glitter in air and vanishes in puff of irony*


[Look up why the CCCP didn't target the wheat belt in nuke planning to get a better grip on it: there was general Nuclear agreement not to target such areas. And then the whole fuck-up over "USA like totally destroyed their bioweapons divisions" announcement... that convinced the Soviets to upscale their efforts by a factor of 4-8 because "The Americans are fucking liars and they nuked shit already". True story. Oh, and then the Brits killed some sheep, because fuck Scotland - but that happened before the Big Boys really got started, but everyone loves their sweaters and booo, hiss]

308:

Btw - MMA fighting? Cute move. Silly, but cute.

~

You should look up information density/balance some time and what the implications are for debt in such an equation [Our Kind, the الجن take it real fucking serious like m8. Real. Fucking. Serious].

The narcissism response stuff is a massive piss-take about Trump, just for the record. No, we do not care.


I do it for free, because I'm not a fucking whore. The debts you end up owing: well, that's called 'trade'.


A Lannister Always Pays His Debts YT: GOT, TV, 2:36.


p.s.

Time to burn this identity: and if you know anything, this one carried so very very much of creative things and potentiality.

How. Fucking. Dare. You.

309:

sadpanda
Very ouch, sorry.
Anyway, thanks for the Gaia response. It is indeed odd that there is no current name for that role.


310:

Τύχη / Fortuna
Μοῖραι: Κλωθώ, Λάχεσις, Ἄτροπος.

norna dómr:

Tefldu í túni,
teitir váru,
var þeim vettergis
vant ór gulli,
uns þrjár kvámu
þursa meyjar
ámáttkar mjök
ór Jötunheimum


Mamitu

लक्ष्मी


And a few Others.

311:

Thank you.

312:

MMA fighting
Looked that over, trying to reconstruct mental state, it's possible I was just working through some confusion. (E.g. for a pacifist, a heel lightly hitting a forehead (causing 2 weeks of headaches reported weeks later) is profoundly unsettling, and so are memories of it. Affects flow.) Or not; self-awareness only partial (working on it!).
You should look up information density/balance some time and what the implications are for debt in such an equation
OK, this is clearer now, thank you. (Sorry to have been ... greedy I guess is a workable word. Lots of stuff you talk about is hard (sometimes impossible) to find links for.)
Re your identity here, not understanding the reasons for burning it. (Truly, seriously. (That's a statement, not a request.))
It's a magnificent identity. Frustrating, very complicated, alien, playful, [other positive adjectives].

313:

Or maybe 500 tons of ball bearings mixed with some kind of low-grade plastic explosive/oxygen mixture.* They don't just assume one orbit, they assume a million orbits and kill a ton of stuff. Not a bad move if the enemy has just done the Chinese ASAT thing on all your satellites and you've decided to toss all the pieces off the board.

* Or some kind of centrifugal launch system for ball bearings once they've made orbit - there are lots of ways to make sure your ball-bearings spread out rather nicely.

314:

300-500 tons. Capable of reaching Mars. Can we call that a frigate?

And what about the 500 tons of ball-bearings? Will humanity trade a Kessler crisis for continued control of LEO?

If I had to fire up a space navy on an emergency basis, I'd start with a bunch of huge boosters and spin a cover story about going to Mars while I ignored the global warming crisis...

Or maybe it's just one erratic billionaire. Could go either way, right?

315:

"Jellyfish aren't tasty"

"I'm not sure about that. I had some jellyfish sushi that was quite good."

Boy, am I off topic ! But, ahem:

The problem with jellyfish is that they can't be netted the way fish are. They slip though the holes, or get sliced up (and the pieces slip through the holes). Having an ecosystem switch from fish to jellyfish is bad for the catch tonnage, irrespective of market value per pound.

"What we need are some sharks that reproduce rapidly and are designed to eat jellyfish."

Semi-brilliant ! Actually we should redesign something smaller and tastier, like rockfish, to eat jellyfish. It's not like jellyfish have to be ambushed.

316:

Ah FINALLY I've got it.

Your fundamental assumption is that all guvmints & all corporations are lying ALL THE TIME, without exception, for purposes of greed & military domination.

Wrong, in fact NOT EVEN WRONG.

Yes, they are lying some of the time, usually because they are stupid, or because they believe "other people" are stupider than they are.

I suggest you think it through, because if your assumption were true, the whole thing would have collapsed. long since.

It's the truth / half-truth / lies mixture that we actually have got that is so difficult to parse.
And you are not helping .....

[ EXAMPLE: Partly-deliberate stupid lie put out by Brit guvimnt.
The current (new) alchohol-safety guidelines, heavily influenced by "pressure groups", including fanatic anti-alchohol groups & religious (both christian & muslim) nutters.
Based on no scientific or actual evidence whatsoever. Incidentally, the previous limits, approx double the current ones, had no actual evidence to back them either ...
Downside - people will now disbelieve ALL guvmint supposed statistics & "limits" including figures on Global Warming.
AND - How stupid is that? ]

317:

New thought - It's been suggested a number of times in fiction that low or zero G environments can be places for enhancing and prolong the lives of people suffering from brittle bone diseases, arthritis and certain forms of heart disease. Anyone, preferably people who are capable of communicating without being arrogant and condescending and/or gratuitously insulting (guess who I'm thinking of there), have any informed comments?

318:

Die Antwoord do have a term for something you could interpret as a genre, though it might still only apply to them in the context of music.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zef

319:

My thought is that by the time we are far enough down the "things in space" priority list to build orbiting old peoples homes there will be a cheaper way to solve the problem.

I'm not sure that exile in space would be that appealing to normal people either.

320:

I'm not sure that exile in space would be that appealing to normal people either.

If any of the medium-to-large scale ring habitat concepts ever became practical, then it might make sense to place such a facility in the low gravity hub area or even just close to it. So long as getting up to the hub and back wasn't a really big deal, it'd create a possibility for visiting the elders no less frequently than is normal in some cultures now.

Not convinced the medical efficacy is real though (having done zero background reading). I had the impression people with borderline obesity in middle age* ended up with better bone density in old age. Surely putting people in microgravity would make bone strength issues worse, not better?

*Hey I resemble that remark.

321:

The trend in everything else is miniaturisation.

No it's not. (Unless you're mistaking electronics for "everything".)

Look at cars. Look at civil engineering projects like tunnels and bridges. Look at skyscrapers. We're living in the age of giant civil engineering projects; they're just culturally invisible. Hyundai Heavy Industries has a yard dedicated to churning out quarter- to half- million ton container ships, vessels big enough to carry a dozen first world war battleships as cargo; Boeing has multiple moving production lines for 200-300 ton airliners.

Civil space utilization has been constrained by the size of boosters that were for the most part incrementally scaled-up from 1950s ICBMs (R-7/Soyuz, Atlas, Titan, Delta (Delta was a derivative of the Thor IRBM)). The job of a 1950s ICBM was to lob a big, crude H-bomb across a distance of roughly 2000 miles (IRBM) to 4000-8000 miles (ICBM). A big, crude 1950's H-bomb tops out at 5-10 tons; during the 1960s high-efficiency warheads got it down to 500Kg, so they piled a bunch of them on the booster and called it a MIRV. The point is, with few exceptions payloads were tailored for these stacks because an individual payload cost 1-2 orders of magnitude less in R&D spending than developing a whole new launch vehicle.

The screaming exceptions were the Saturn series (prohibitively expensive, never built in sufficient numbers to make a difference -- although if the Saturn V line hadn't shut down after 20 units in 1967 it could have been a different story), the Shuttle (enough said), Energiya/Buran (barely flew before the USSR ran out of cash for further development), and maybe Titan-IV (very specialized market, namely NRO spysats when Shuttle blew up).

When the purely civilian boosters finally began to show up in numbers in the 1980s, like Ariane IV, which again was tailored to compete for payloads in the market defined by the evolved 1950s ICBMs.

The point is, until there's a big dumb booster we're not going to see anyone build payloads that require a BDB, so there's no market for a BDB because ...

Chicken or egg?

322:

Addendum to Charlie's reply at #321, which he's also well aware of but others may not be.

Boeing's manufacturing facility is big enough that they have weather systems inside the building.

323:

What we got out of the ten-tonne launch straitjacket was not Big Dumb Boosters but Small Smart Payloads and really Small Smart Payloads are the way to go forward. Even battleship inflation of the geosync DBS birds like the latest Intelsat monsters at 6.5 tonnes (another one was launched about six weeks ago on an Ariane V two-fer) is Small and Smart compared to what the visionaries of the 1950s were predicting, manned space stations at geosync with engineers replacing valves while broadcasting one or two channels of regular TV to their audiences below.

Chicken or egg, it's more like we don't have intensive ostrich-egg production lines since we've got optimised chicken-egg producing machines after much trial and effort and we can get more eggs from the chicken per unit of food input than we did before. We can also make multi-egg omelettes like the ISS (400 tonnes of assemblies, each less than 10 tonnes on the pad) whereas our attempts at building a real successful BDB are limited to the crude brute-force Saturn V and nothing else, pretty much.

As for the Shuttle, remember they flew 135 missions and carried about a thousand people into space as well as over a thousand tonnes of materiel. Yes is was dangerous and yes it killed people but spaceflight is a dangerous business. Strapping yourself into a vehicle that will burn its way through a thousand tonnes of highly energetic fuel and oxidiser in a few minutes while being built light enough to actually get off the pad is not going to be a risk-free endeavour.

324:

Isn't that backwards, given that AFAIK, space-station "residents" have weaker bones & need careful retraining & strengthening exercises upon return to Earth/ ( ?? )
Lack of gravity seems ( - & I emphasise *seems* ) to mean bone resorbtion.
OTOH, for arthritis sufferers, a little bit of bone (etc) resorbtion might be a good thing, might it not?

325:

No-one would be insane enough to wipe out entire ecologies to prevent a bio-weapon attack.

Oh wow, that hadn't even occurred to me. (And it's a beautiful technothriller plot engine, whether or not it's true.)

* Scribbles note to self *

(Maybe for Merchant Princes book 10, if that ever happens.)

326:

I may have missed a point, thinking that the relevant works were "well-known"; these people are on one-way trips.

327:

In fiction they might be two way trips, but if your solution to people suffering from weak bones is to send them to a safe environment that reduces bone density then they aint coming back.

328:

How are they even making it to orbit? I could be off-track on the specifics of g-load, but wouldn't subjecting them to multiple gravities of thrust basically turn brittle bones to powder?

329:

The fictitious example I can think of is Dr. Heywood Floyd in 2061, who lives in an orbital hospital explicitly because he had spent too much time in the orbital hospital recovering from multiple complicated fractures and bone density loss had got him.

330:

Not turn them to power but likely one or more breaks.

There's a theory than many older people who fall and break a hip really have their hip fracture then fall from the sudden pain. The weight and stress of walking becomes too much for that major stress point.

Putting such people into a minute or few of 3G or more would not be a great idea. No matter how good of a couch they build for them to ride on.

331:

*Oh Look, Mosquitoes and Zika!*

Yeah, this happened – South Carolina sprays for Zika mosquitoes and kills millions of bees:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/09/01/like-its-been-nuked-millions-of-bees-dead-after-south-carolina-sprays-for-zika-mosquitoes/

332:

"But if we get cheaper photovoltaics..."

How much cheaper? Solar power stations in the right place can deliver electricity below the cost of coal or natural gas, at 3 cents per kWh

333:

although if the Saturn V line hadn't shut down after 20 units in 1967

Fifteen units. 12 Apollos, 1 Skylab and two lawn ornaments.

334:

There's only one major contender - Magnesium Diboride at 37K

335:

Or 18 if we count SA-500F, SA-500D and S-IC-T as well as the Moon shots, Skylab launcher and 2 unused for the planned Apollo 19 and 20 missions.

336:

So one thing that always stuck in the back of my head was David Brin's Nasa propaganda piece Tank Farm Dynamo. The idea of using solar power and the magnetic field to maintain an orbit, by effectively slowing down the orbit of the earth by a really tiny fraction.

As far as I know it is still theoretically plausible, meaning you can put a bloody huge station into orbit and more importantly move it at no fuel cost. Being able to launch cubesat equivalents by more or less shoving them off a platform at any time would be relatively useful, and you could have a high platform and a low platform - one for launching stuff on intentionally decaying orbits, another to provide an effectively free momentum boost via elevators.

337:

Islamic State take note!

338:

I have eaten jellyfish. Think salty rubber

339:

Remaining almost on topic, you must be old enough to remember Lockheed and their "business model" for selling the F104? Remind me who went to jail...

340:

Have you missed the debate on whether to wipe out mosquitoes as a species?

341:

Mosquitos are a family ([i]Culicidae[/i]) with about 3,000 species, and I never heard of any debate to wipe out all of them. Just the few species which carry human diseases.

342:

Or 18 if we count SA-500F, SA-500D and S-IC-T as well as the Moon shots, Skylab launcher and 2 unused for the planned Apollo 19 and 20 missions.

Keeping up the pedantry... Skylab used most of the launcher intended for Apollo 20 but Skylab itself was converted from a Saturn 1B S-IV stage, there was then some shuffling because the other two cancelled missions were 15 and 19 but numbers and launchers got reassigned.

And the various test articles weren't technically part of the production run...

I'll get my coat, it's the anorak that looks like a pressure suit... :-)

343:

... nerdsplaining ...

the limiting consideration for NERVA was not melting the rocket nozzle, much the same as a conventional chemical rocket, which set the upper temperature of the exhaust. However, the propellent was hydrogen, rather than the hydrogen + oxygen of a typical chemical upper stage, and a lighter species gives a higher specific impulse. About twice.

344:

The problem with "Tank Farm Dynamo" is that it conflated two ideas for NASA -- (a) building a "wet" space station using shuttle external tanks (which IRL were abandoned before making orbit and burned up on re-entry -- carrying them into orbit using the OMS was borderline-feasible but would have eaten the entire margin allocated for cargo), and (b) using an electrically energized tether to generate thrust in the Earth's magnetic field. Tethers were tried using the shuttle -- but the experiment suffered a mechanical failure and was too expensive to repeat (hey, shuttle flights aren't cheap, who knew?!?).

Probably someone will try again at some point, but it's not something they ever wanted to risk on the ISS (having kilometers-long cables breaking and whipping around a $100Bn asset is not a good idea).

345:

Not sure if you're serious here given prior mentions of mousepox, I'll assume you're very familiar with Biosecurity issues (apparently a term only around since 2003?). And, of course, most will know all about foot & mouth disease being from the UK.

How to get on a list, and find some scary stuff: National Defense University - Pakistan, NDU journal [no link, 'cause it probably really is on a list]. Let's just say F&M is a big concern over there... and unlike Mousepox, they view F&M as having *less* chance of control. (Post 2010 stuff... ouch). It's a fairly open admission that they have 0% chance of stopping a naughty version of F&M. [Looks at Russia backing India recently over more border raids: things that make you go "hmm"].

~

As to the blanket slash/burn approach, pretty sure it was part of strategy back before DDT got banned and the term 'biosecurity' got going. Certainly, The Andromeda Strain posited that nukes were sanctioned to stop such outbreaks.

Everyone loves the mosquito example, but pest species (and pest species hosting other things) is an interesting one. Actually introducing an invasive (such as kudzu weed) to fill an ecological niche that was targetable has potential.

Let's just say I'm fairly sure certain researching countries' over-use of pesticides etc (and perhaps even 'encouraging' such things as white-nose syndrome (WNS - Wall_St Nose Syndrome)) might get you on a list. Well, if you were part of a Think Tank for a New Century Project and needed to up your biosecurity level vrs unspecified Jack Bauer baddies who could cook up with a 3D printer and a manual off the intarweb.


~
Disclaimer: not my field.

This is fiction.

I love flying mice.

346:

Greg, ok, no.

There's a fairly specific bun-fight going on in the space world atm between factions (of whom a couple have been mentioned), and they've both been upping the ante for the past two years.

Lawmakers are fighting a space battle on Capitol Hill over SpaceX and its biggest competitor Business Insider, 4th Oct 2016 (expect this to rumble on due to reasons*)


*Reasons being:

#1 The ideological split is also a political one (Libertarians vrs Clintons, mostly)
#2 It's also a financial one at heart ('old' MIC tech monies, 'new' S.V. / investment stuff)
#3 It's being waged as if 'winner take all' internally in a country is healthy at all
#4 It's got Shadow-Gov on both sides (which implies interesting things)

Etc.

Rule of thumb: higher # post noise = higher seriousness of bun-fight which is a bit scary to comment on.

The timing of it all is just... Well, it's 2016.

347:

And if you're 100% determined to get on a list:

The Intersection of Science and Security: a Case Study Approach Continuing the global dialogue with the scientific and science policy community with a focus on Asia and the Western Pacific NSABB 2011, PDF

CTRL+F Mousepox
CTRL+F Bat

Then, well: put puzzle pieces together.

~

Of course I would view the eradication of an extremely key species / niche as psychopathic.

There are Others, of course, who would view it as 'collateral damage', in terms of National Security and protecting Citizens.

348:

Remember, SK has anti-trust laws as well as a populist streak combined with their authoritarianism and cozy banking relationships.

Samsung may have 30% of their market now, but Hyundai was far larger, being at times virtually all of SK's foreign trade. Then the old man died, the political deals and skills were dependent on him, SK has massive inheritances taxes requiring liquidating assets, and the 1998 crises combined. SK broke Hyundai into at least 12 pieces. Daewoo also got the axe. Samsung fared better, but was forced to transfer divisions. With Samsung, they're having issues as well as the generations die and the need to sell shares hurts control.

KIA was an attempt to keep their needed arms production around and obey IMF rules. Samsung, Hyundai and Daewoo were forced out of that part of the defense industry due to the IMF not liking how cozy (aka corrupt) it was.

(I still agree the government will have a huge thumb in money, I'm just not in favor of bad facts).

349:

Zef is 100% not limited to that band.

If you wanted to unpack it, think Juggalos but shinier.

http://www.watkykjy.co.za/

[Link is NSFW, contains racial identity stuff that will make Americans very uncomfortable and so on. Also Afrikaans and memes. Also has Trump/Clinton memes that are so rare Pepe even the chans haven't seen them yet].

And Juggalos 'should' be White Nationalist based, but they aren't, but are often labelled as such: for the same reasons. I referenced it for a reason, to get some sanity into the space of "Not all /trashy is racist, and not all /trashy is stupid and not all /trashy is un-selfaware, despite what's being peddled as a narrative.

I wasn't joking about the Paris fashion scene having old-school Nazis in it though].

350:

I have too many ideas for future novels. More than I can possibly write before (a) they become obsolete or (b) I die of old age.

Please don't add to my stockpile, m'kay?

351:

Thank-you for the fine(r) detail: it was designed as a flavor-rant just to get Minds focused.

The point was that SK is basically modeled on the post-WW2 American influence / economic model and specifically designed that way for regional geopolitical reasons / counter-weights etc.

Oh, and it had a (draconian) dictator / autocratic setup.

~

I'll let you draw your own conclusions there.

352:

Robert L. Forward's life work was the use of Tethers. He's got a sizable number of SF novels dealing with them, and founded Tethers Unlimited. They did a few more tests with Stanford showing the concept works. They are still around, complete with grants

I think their big idea is the tethers product significant magnetic drag. Drawing power seems inadvisable, as I think it's suppose to increase the drag. My afternoon foggy brain is screaming Maxwell's laws mean pulling a current on a straight tether should increase the drag via the plan perpendicular to it, but that seems off. There's definitely an induced voltage on a long enough tether to

I remember somewhere also that you're suppose to also be able to get the reverse effect if you run a current in the tether, to use it as a push against the earth's magnetic field. But I don't think testing showed it beat the increase in drag against the atmosphere.

353:

The chances of having my ramblings ever influence anyone is slight-to-none, we'd hope.

There's an interesting parallel that I've been flag-waving towards, however:

'Cracking Open' Closed Funding Systems / Barriers to getting into Space. i.e. Old MIC vrs HN disruptors.

Zef / Juggalos [and Other not-yet-mentioned niches that resist the traditional Capitalist 'submerge all the things under it' but by radically embracing and perverting Capital rather than the usual dominance path the other way and by resisting the very definitions of the 20th C Marx stuff] vrs /pol/ Chans.

[Insert the implication about politics / money etc]


Oh, and Space Bats. You gotta respect the Space Bats.

~


Commercial Stuff? - Doesn't matter until what matters is not what is currently commercial. Since everyone has ignored the Chinese 'roaming dragon', there's one: Orbital Garbage Cleaning Services.

Hack a better system than the Aolong-1 for cheaper and drone based [suggestion: magnets. Big Space Magnets* to induce orbital decay] and clean shit up.

If the Mafia made money doing it, sure as shit I'm sure Angel Investors will be all over it.

*This is a Juggalo Joke.

354:

I would really like to see a space elevator..

Given that it may be feasible in terms of material science - it might not be - the other component, as I understand it is an enormous counterweight. Moving that into position is going to take a huge amount of resources already in space, is it not? Hence heavy lifters.

So, I see the future as moving from heavy lifters, the equivalent of cells, etc - Saturns and stuff like it - delivered by the various terrestrial based heavy lifters to the neonatal cord, which literally attempts to provide a new womb in outer space. Think about it, in human developmental terms.

You could almost see the rockets as sperm, the injection into orbit and the work the satellites do as a chromosome. The development of a space elevator as the umbilical cord.

And the outcome?

A completely unexpected human potential.

355:

Naval actions over fisheries are old hat. A friend of mine whose Basque recently pointed after a trip to iceland that he didn't go to one part of the island, because until this week there was a law that made legal the killing of any Basque person there. 400 year old law based on Basque whalers coming into iceland to chase the whales.

The US and Japan have a long history of fishing disputes that so far have been peaceful. But there's been lots of stress, especially since the PNW has intense efforts to protect salmon, and Japan historically over fished, sending their own ships further out. The PNW has had a few years of closed fishing now due to the overfishing. Locals blame it on foreign vessels using bad practices.

Unfortunately we're dealing with 'tragedy of the commons' here. So acting responsible as a group is hard since the individual consequences are diffuse. Tying fisheries treaties to trigger other trade provisions may help. What really needs to happen is something to stop nations from leaving their own EEZ for fishing. Make Japan and China get their crap together and stop exploiting everyone else's fisheries.

Something else interesting to me is if we can really get oyster cultivation back. Extreme abuse, which can be seen the worst in Chesapeake Bay, where the oyster beds were being just taken up wholesale, and literally billions of oysters a year for a few years were killed. In the 1800s, the competition for oysters was intense enough that the oyster-men went armed. But when mechanized ships started ripping up the beds for quick access to the oysters, they disrupted the oysters ability to breed. Oysters, being a filtering fish, mean the water went to crap in the bay. Same thing along most of the Atlantic. Oysters used to be a major protein source for America. Current efforts at restoring water quality to the Atlantic include massive oyster projects, since oysters filter better than anything made by man. If they work, it could also be a long term source of protein. Climate change will require planning new species and working on breeding those better for the conditions. Unfortunately acidification is wrecking Oysters in the PNW already and making this line of restoration doubtful.

356:

p.s.

Just saying: all this stuff about Kessler and no-one has thought of just shooting up reeeealy big magnets in a stationary orbit, then waiting for all the things to stick to them? Heck, you could just magnetize lumps of iron.

Oh, that also attached itself to all your rival's stuff?


You peeps think bad.


Shooting up dumb stationary stuff... so much cheaper than rockets, you could do it with an artillery piece.


~

*looks innocent*

357:

Uncontrolled crop-killing isn't any form of jihad, any more than uncontrolled nuclear war is. You need someone more nihilist to something this incredibly stupid.

358:

Er.

Or just intelligent but negligent?

Klebsiella planticola--The Gene-Altered Monster That Almost Got Away Elaine Ingham, Oregon State University, 1998 - you really should know this one by now.


~

No, seriously: there are entire genetic lines (6th extinction event, yo!) that were wiped out due to gross negligence, stupidity and so on.

The point is that a) it's really easy b) 96% (+/- 2) of humans aren't psychotic and c) random dumb luck does save you sometimes.


Look up bananas sometime, or more importantly: grapes.

How The Great French Wine Blight Changed Grapes Forever io9, 2015.


The Illuminati: oddly patriotic and willing to go to huge efforts to get pissed.

359:

An additional use not mentioned is a prospector. We know there's a few asteroid mining companies. Mostly funded by people like James Cameron. But find a near earth object with the right size that's mostly ice (be it water or other), and plop on prospecting rig. The rig is mostly a VASIMR (or other electric rig), solar cells for power, and grapples. Ideally the rig could use power to use some of the mass as fuel. Doesn't need to be the biggest asteroid, although I know Ryugu is the current favorite, it would be hard to move. Potentially tethers or solar sails could be used as well.

Would take years to move a decent size chunk, but with power and the right engine, we could move these icebergs to some place safe like L1 and use it as a fuel tank.

Really commercial use should work with NASA before we do too much, as there could be wonderful discoveries in these bodies.

360:

Problems with doing anything on the Moon: moon dust. Shit's like ground glass. Find the interviews with the Apollo astronauts talking about it. Wreaks havoc with everything from suits to mech. May be why the Chinese rover failed so quickly. Also, why is it always easy to come up with these tech solutions that involve space. You'd think that finding solutions on the ground for the real problems we face on the ground must be too easy so to make them more challenging we have to put mirrors in space.

361:

I mentioned magnetic methods in passing as something that might be considered as a countermeasure to 500t of steel balls, but only really because someone might think "steel? magnets; easy" when it isn't really. Just a huge magnet on its own won't do; you need some means of decelerating the caught particles gradually, otherwise they'll just spall more bits off what they hit and make things worse. Also, the magnet would need to be really ridiculously huge, both in size and strength; it is possible that this could lead to unwanted forces on it from interaction with the Earth's magnetic field, the solar wind, etc, although I can't be arsed to try and make even an order-of-magnitude guesstimate of how significant this would be.

Also, magnets only work on ferromagnetic materials; they're no good against bits of aluminium, or paint, or whatever.

Verne cannons don't work on Earth either, partly due to atmospheric drag, mainly due to the gravity well. The speed of sound in propellant gases is well short of orbital velocity. The best you can do is a Light Gas Gun, which is basically one kilometres-long tube of hydrogen that is exploded to compress hydrogen in another kilometres-long tube which then bursts a rupture disc to release its pressure behind a tiddly little projectile. To launch anything of worthwhile size means the size of the launcher gets really silly.

Sorry...

362:

Even a hot-hydrogen light gas gun can't propel a projectile to orbital velocities and the length of the barrel doesn't help (much). It's limited by the speed of sound in the hydrogen behind the projectile and that only increases with temperature which is boosted by rapid adiabatic compression in the light-gas gun, pressure in itself doesn't improve the performance. This is the main reason why the Pascal-B nuclear weapon test did not put a manhole cover into orbit.

Railguns on the other hand have no such gas limitations but getting orbital velocities from a railgun in any kind of an atmosphere is problematic due to frictional heating/melting/vapourising of the projectile.

363:

Magnesium Diboride at 37K
Thanks! Here's a newish article, 18 November 2014, (only able to see the abstract but maybe you have access) that suggests progress with both MgB2 and Nb3Sn wires:
Conduction cooled magnet design for 1.5 T, 3.0 T and 7.0 T MRI systems

364:

Thanks. They (Die Antwoord) do have some interesting stories around them and their art. A colourful two-part interview (2010) here:
http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2010/10/die-antwoord-interview-evil-boy-video
http://www.motherjones.com/riff/2010/10/die-antwoord-ninja-evil-boy-interview
(embedded non-autoplay video claims to be not safe for work.)

365:

Long time ago I had learned just to skip CatinaDiamond's (or whatever her handle is this week) posts, as their information content is too close to zero to bother with. The link to Klebsiella planticola article did interest me however. Alas, it proved to be all-hype.

To quote from link:

genes were taken out of another bacterium, and put into Klebsiella-planticola in the right place to result in alcohol production. Once that was done, the plan was to rake the plant residue from the fields, gather it into containers, and allow it to be decomposed by Klebsiella-planticola. But, Klebsiella would produce alcohol, which it normally does not do.

Then it goes on to say how genetically engineered Klebsiella planticola could kill every terrestrial plant via alcohol poisoning. What it does not say is -- the more we modify something for our purposes, the LESS suited it is to survive in the wild. If an animal or a plant does not have a trait we want it to have, it means the trait has no survival value. Adding the trait, whether through selective breeding or GE, creates an uncompetitive organism. All insulin in US is now produced from bacteria (E. coli, IIRC) with human insulin gene added. No doubt these bacteria had escaped into sinks and toilets many times over. Is there a plague of insulin? Of course not, because these bacteria waste energy making something very useful to us, but of no survival value to them. They can no more make a plague than Holstein cows can prosper in Serengheti. And for the same reasons.

Likewise, alcohol production is of no use to Klebsiella planticola. Were it released into wild, it would quickly mutate back to the original, non-alcohol-producing form, which would then outcompete the GMO variant.

In short, the article is alarmist nonsense, just like everything else CatinaDiamond posts.

366:

Railguns on the other hand have no such gas limitations...
There are other options, notably coilguns.
Advanced Propulsion Study (2004: old) page 22.
Soft spot in my heart for those, due to spending days as a pre-internet kid designing, making and optimizing small coil guns.
(Also, http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/ for those who don't know the Atomic Rockets site.)


367:

StarTram is a nice design for a coilgun-style launcher, in a range of colours, flavours and sizes. Do note the barrel lengths and various muzzle velocities; you could do similar things with a big light gas gun if you really wanted, but it probably wouldn't be any easier in the end.

NERVA wasn't just limited by nozzle melting points, as I understand it, but also the desire to not have the reactor elements not burn up. I think the designs operated at a lower nozzle temperature but were higher efficiency than chemical engines due to the light, high speed exhaust products.

A space elevator does not necessarily need a bloody great big asteroid to be parked in orbit first (something which has some considerable health and safety issues when considering building an elevator on earth). have a read of this paper for an example of how to do this, and some of the other issues associated with elevator construction.

368:

If an animal or a plant does not have a trait we want it to have, it means the trait has no survival value. Adding the trait, whether through selective breeding or GE, creates an uncompetitive organism.

That doesn't really follow. This may be the outcome in many, even most cases but it is not automatically true given the premise, and it's extremely unlikely to be true in all cases in practice. Australia's experience with introduced organisms is a rich field for counter examples and that's just one country.

It also makes assumptions about desirable traits that don't ring true. How does Roundup Ready Canola fit your argument?

369:

NERVA is obsolete, because a couple of clever physicists found a way around the temperature limitations on how hot you can run a reactor -
http://www.rbsp.info/rbs/PDF/aiaa05.pdf
It is, for reasons that should be obvious, not really a design you want to run inside an biosphere, but it should produce an isp in at least the high hundreds of thousands, and it is more than small enough to put into a high orbit where you could point the exhaust stream out of the solar system.
Not much trust, but you could just inject some reaction mass into the stream of radioactive plasma - it would be heated to insane temperatures, allowing you to trade off isp for more trust, and there is a lot of isp to trade away, and it doesn't produce EMP's.

370:

Both Oysters & Mussels, actually.
Along the East coast of England, especially in Essex & parts of Suffolk, there have been several restoration programmes & the bivalves are doing well again
It's a well-managed "fishery" with both increasing yields & an increasing population.
Colchester / Mersea Isalnd are the best ... dribble, oink.

371:

People rarely get my sense of humor, it would seem, or the real point of 'noise/content'. (This should have been obvious - the story about the Rothchild family saving French vineyards via California is a case where alcohol was secured via science. i.e. where there's a Will, there's a Way.)

In the 1970s, most of the scientists engaged in recombinant DNA research were working in public institutions and were therefore able to get together and voice opinions without having to look over their shoulders. This is no longer the case — as many scientists now work for private companies where commercial considerations are paramount.

Related to this is that so many issues in science and technology today are beset by economic self-interest and, increasingly, by nearly irreconcilable ethical and religious conflicts, as well as by challenges to deeply held social values. A conference that sets out to find a consensus among such contentious views would, I believe, be doomed to acrimony and policy stagnation.

That said, there is a lesson in Asilomar for all of science: the best way to respond to concerns created by emerging knowledge or early-stage technologies is for scientists from publicly-funded institutions to find common cause with the wider public about the best way to regulate — as early as possible. Once scientists from corporations begin to dominate the research enterprise, it will simply be too late.


Meetings that changed the world: Asilomar 1975: DNA modification secured Nature, 2008

You may wish to place this into context with America in Mind.

And, as ever, amongst the noise there's a serious point / joke: using e.coli is vastly out of date.


Cell factories for insulin production NCBI, article - good entry level overview, 2014

Transgenic expression and recovery of biologically active recombinant human insulin from Arabidopsis thaliana seeds. Plant Biotechnical Journal, 2005 - full paper, used because it's a Canadian commercial biotech who sponsored it.


The obvious irony being, of course, that transgenic plants are a little bit more contentious than e.coli. [Oh, and Monstanto joke, but hey].


Time is a flat circle, and all that jazz.

372:

(Asilomar conference came about due to SV40 cancer concerns, but also certainly the e.coli / insulin factory discoveries were part of the debate).

373:

And, er, the whole big magnetic ball of iron - joke but interesting 'launch pad' for people discussing rail guns etc.

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/fucking-magnets-how-do-they-work

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/people/insane-clown-posse

Jugglos = the fans of said band.

Fuckin' magnets, how do they work? YT, ICP, 0.09

~

GCU(e) - Youth Division.

374:

Point of using transgenic plants over e.coli:

Over the next 20 years, WHO has estimated that insulin sale would grow from $12 billion to $54 billion globally...

Plant-based expression system hold tremendous potential for high-capacity production of insulin in very cost-effective manner. Very high level of expression of biologically active proinsulin in seeds or leaves with long-term stability, offers a low-cost technology for both injectable as well as oral delivery of proinsulin. Moreover, transgenic seeds can also act as warehouse where recombinant insulin can be stockpiled until required.


I'll let iyla187 guess if owning patents to said technology is going to be problematic or not.

375:

(Sorry for spam)

Anyhow, Host proves his crystal ball still works:

Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg sketched out a Jetsons-like future at a conference Tuesday, envisioning a commercial space-travel market with dozens of destinations orbiting the Earth and hypersonic aircraft shuttling travelers between continents in two hours or less. And Boeing intends to be a key player in the initial push to send humans to Mars, maybe even beating Musk to his long-time goal.

“I’m convinced the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding a Boeing rocket,” Muilenburg said at the Chicago event on innovation, which was sponsored by the Atlantic magazine.

Boeing CEO Vows to Beat Musk to Mars Bloomberg, 4th Oct (late edition) 2016

~


Pushing a 'new space race 2.0' makes me as uncomfortable as the current political atmosphere. (And looks a lot like grandstanding - it's not inconceivable India could pull a fast one and surprise everyone. Hope they remember their flag this time though)

Stinks of the undead without new goals. Matt Damon - The Martian or Elysium?

376:

and no-one has thought of just shooting up reeeealy big magnets in a stationary orbit, then waiting for all the things to stick to them?

No, because magnets are so good at attracting passing high velocity rifle bullets.

The thing about space debris is that it moves fast -- up to an order of magnitude faster than the rifle bullet I mentioned, in fact. Now, if you can actively rendezvous with it, yes, a magnet might be a worthwhile short-range catcher for ferromagnetic materials -- but most of it is non-ferrous: we build space tech to a weight budget and iron and steel aren't exactly light.

377:

I will note that Gerald Bull's Project Babylon was indeed intended to be a ground-based chemical-explosive-powered orbit-capable launch gun, and Bull had form that made him so credible that Mossad assassinated him to stop the supergun project -- he wasn't an amateur, he was the world-leading artillery designer of the late 20th century.

Admittedly, HARP's martlet projectiles didn't hit 200 miles altitude purely on the initial oomph from his souped-up 16 inch naval gun; they were multi-stage base-burn projectiles that just happened to use the gun launcher as a way to get above the troposphere real fast. And that was the design for Project Babylon -- basically very small multistage solid fuel rockets launched from a discarding-sabot high velocity cannon to get them above the atmosphere quick.

And if you think this sounds bonkers, it's the method used by the LRLAP projectiles from the Advanced Gun System mounted on the US Navy's shiny new Zumwalt-class battlecruisers destroyers. (Class inflation: since when is a 16,000 ton warship with hypervelocity guns capable of bombarding targets 200 miles away and carrying a heavy cruiser's load-out of Tomahawks or Standard missiles called a "destroyer"?)

Anyway: not a Verne cannon, but don't write off guns just yet -- if what you want is a cheap way to put building material into orbit (anything that doesn't go "crunch" if you subject it to multiple thousand gees at launch) then it might be just the ticket.

378:

[W]e build space tech to a weight budget and iron and steel aren't exactly light.

Also, those would be the most likely components (or something comparable) for a really big magnet, so it'd be heavy, too. I'd think the range wouldn't be that much, either, compared to the ranges in orbit.

379:

Memory says that the original "dreadnaughts", then classed as full-on battleships, had displacements around 16_000 tons (that's tons, not tonnes), and that around WW2 anything with 6" main guns was classed as a cruiser or battlecruiser depending on displacement.

Of course, whether the 2 guns are the "main armament" of the Zumwalts is another argument entirely.

380:

There's also the whole 'how many crew' thing. Your classic big battleship could have over a thousand people aboard (Iowa-class originally heading for 3K), whereas your Zumwalt is low 3 figures.

381:

Battlecruisers had battleship guns, but greater speed, traded off with thinner armour.
What fucked up was grossly incompetent Admiral Beatty charging full battleships at Jutland.
If he'd had the wits of a louse, he'd have circled round & attacked the High Seas fleet from the side rear.

Typically, Jellicoe got the blame & the tosser Beatty got promoted.

[ Cruisers had 6 / 8 / 10 inch guns - very few of the latter ]

382:

This whole lump of iron thing is going to be like when the Senator Hank Johnson suggested the island of Guam might sink due to military use. (video YT: senate hearing: 2:48). (Interestingly, it's one of the most effective ways to dip test political leanings in American viewers, to see if they spot the Senator is trolling or not and if they understand that the Admiral also knows he's being trolled and is also playing 'avoid the hard questions' (1:42 in the video he points to his eye)).

~

Kessler:

#1 Velocity
#2 Material
#3 Scale

Silly idea #2: is there a chemical solution that works? i.e. what about launching (via dumb / cheap method) vast clouds of material that reacts with the aluminum to remove it, using the kinetic energy as a catalyst. (On earth, sodium hydroxide works... not so much in vacuum though).

Or did you just remove the Kessler problem to introduce a Moon Dust problem (even if it could work and you could get that volume of material up there).

~

Note: dear Google algos, given that list mentioned earlier, please do not suggest The Preparatory Manual of Chemical Warfare Agents Third Edition when looking for sodium hydroxide reactions with aluminum, even if you have scanned it into Google books. [Real. And the book has a handy 1-10 scoring system for each chemical produced on both "Riot Control" and "Warfare" agent for the discerning purchaser!]

383:

Since we are over 300, can I ask:

Am I the only one who can't read the post title without singing "Earlyy in the morning"?

384:

since when is a 16,000 ton warship... called a "destroyer"?

When a new class of destroyer is needed, and a new class of cruiser is seen as too expensive.

See the Invincible-class, sold to Parliament as "Through-Deck Cruisers" (in a nod to HMS Tiger and HMS Blake, cruisers that had been reroled to carry helicopters) rather than light aircraft carriers.

Warships are growing - there was apparently a lot of opposition to the proposed Type 26/Type 31 Frigates for the RN on the grounds that they were "obviously too big and thus too expensive"; forgetting, as the Naval Architects point out, that "steel is cheap and air is free", and that several previous classes have been forced to grow across production batches. The expensive parts of a warship are (first) the people and (then) the electronics... trying to squeeze them into 6000t apparently makes for poor design compromises.

385:

and Bull had form that made him so credible that Mossad assassinated him

To be fair, apparently they did warn him off beforehand. He just wouldn't take the hint...

386:

Yes but a gun-ballistic launcher is only a start, it provides less than 20 percent of the velocity needed to reach orbit and its downsides make it expensive compared to other assisted-launch systems. For one thing the payloads needs to be able to survive 10,000G in the barrel so no canned-monkey. Another is that a lot of that useful kinetic energy out of the barrel is converted into heat from drag as it's punching though thick atmosphere very fast early on in its flight, even fired vertically which in itself doesn't contribute at all to orbital velocity.

(I've not heard much about Paul Allen's Stratolauncher recently -- that is supposed to take a 200-tonne plus launch vehicle up to about 10km and travelling horizontally at 0.25 km/sec, a good start).

As for the Zumwalt, any long-range weapons system over about 25-30 kilometres is going to be propelled for most of its travel, it can't simply rely on free flight ballistics. It's why aircraft carriers ate the battleships lunch during WWII since the BBs could never get near the carriers while the planes they deployed could get at the BBs and other surface ships from well out of shell range.

387:

I've not heard much about Paul Allen's Stratolauncher recently

Carrier aircraft nearly done alledgedly, but still nothing to carry.

The one advantage of airdrop like this or the Pegasus is flexibility. The small amount of horizontal velocity isn't a great help, but being able to drop from a location nearer the equator or into an azimuth a land based site can't reach safely is.

388:

Other advantages include safer ranges -- The recent Ariane V launch was held for a time because a ship was in the drop zone for the boosters. Luckily it was cleared before the launch window expired. The Stratolauncher can avoid that sort of problem. Range weather is less of a problem too.

389:

And we all know that Islamic State is not nihilist...

390:

Here's how to launch a spaceship in 1962. How many innovations can you spot?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ifS2nP53Zs

391:

Host's twitter is really dark post Tory conference, leading to existential solipsistic black hole of "I made/did that" which the internet is so good at.

So (taken from Twitter):

#1 The wild hunt has been called, the forest will burn, there's no stopping it, but the ash is fertile and what we do now is to plant the seeds for what comes afterwards.

*Has been frantically listing Deities in order that the Wild Hunt are not the Witcher Kind*
*Crosses everything for the rainbow kind*
*Places faith in C.Tingle, Esq.*

#2 Predator humor as translation service to bridging this feeling to Tory supporters - note, this one has a trigger warning, so be warned:

British pork exports help Communist China keep its people happy
Telegraph 10th September 2016

#badtranslations : "No, that didn't say "long pork" and no, it's not a great solution to the upcoming trade deficit".

#3 Solving the conundrum of oppositional binaries : there are apparently humans who have a voiced narrative at all times in their heads. There are also humans who do not. There are humans that read text and their imagination creates a film for them. There are also humans who do not*. There are humans who think in terms of 'tiered' filters and levels of abstractions. There are also humans who do not. There are humans who can separate emotional and intellectual engagement. There are also humans who do not. (And so on and so forth).

Stop thinking in binary categories, it's a spectrum.

#4 Youth Outreach - some out there are still voicing good things.
Everyone Needs to Stop Getting TRIGGERED
YT: h3h3Productions: 7:55[2] 4th Oct 2016 - the title is there to offend. Content is not.

[[ Note from mod - you appear to have a copy-paste error there, with 'url' as the URL. ]]

#5 Speaking to a toddler recently, playing Witches (while discussing new HP play with mother): "I'm going to cast a spell on you and turn you into a frog". "But what if I'm already a frog?[3]" "I'm, I'm... I'll turn you into a dragon then". "Yay!".


[1] Note well: there are also those who can alternate as required which explains tolerance for odiousness.

[2] This is a thing for young (post-internet) viewers, mainly: 1,300,000 views in under 1 day, in the top #20 influential YouTubers. So not all is an anthem for doomed youth.

[3] It's never too early to subvert tropes.

392:

[[To mod - ok, sorry. 95% people won't bother with watching the video, it's fairly middling. The point was who it's being viewed by. Largely - Reddit / Youtube / Twitter from both spectrums, gamergate etc]]


Actual Video - references BLM, Alt-Right, SJW - basically all the hot topics that 95% of readers here will find totally alien.

For under 20's mostly. But... 1.3mil viewers in a single day shows the differences in "reach" these days.

Compare / Contrast UK Monthly figures:

NRS: Daily Mail most popular UK newspaper in print and online with 23m readers a month Press Gazette, Feb, 2015.

393:

Thoroughly off-topic, but been looking at UK news this morning, and our own US version, and thinking it's time to read my copy of It Can't Happen Here.

Also keep thinking of an elderly woman I knew slightly. As a young German Jewish girl she was Kindertransport, placed with an abusive English farming family. When I learned about that her seeming bitterness made sense.

394:

Host's twitter is really dark post Tory conference, leading to existential solipsistic black hole of "I made/did that" which the internet is so good at.

Let me just note that when the Home Secretary (minister in charge of police and prisons and immigration enforcement) is unironically quoting from Mein Kampf in a speech to the party faithful we are slightly beyond Godwin's Law territory.

Seriously, in about the past week the conservative party appears to have flipped between two metastable states, from viewing themselves as the party of business interests to being the party of the racist, xenophobic dipshits. And it's absolutely fucking terrifying if, like me, you are a member of two or more groups with a history of being on the receiving end of persecution by fascist types, and also happen to know the history of how fast things went downhill in Germany in the 1930s.

Put it another way: ever since I was 18 I've maintained that it would take gas chambers and swastika armbands to make me consider applying for an Israeli passport (for which I am eligible under the Law of Return). (I am not a fan of zionism or Benjamin Netenyahu, to sat the least.) I'm now getting really uneasy; I'd be happy to settle for a Scottish passport, or move to Ireland at a pinch, but the the murderclowns are running the Westminster government through mid-2020 at the earliest, and the idea of being stuck with a British passport sans EU residence rights during the coming shit-storm does not appeal.

396:

At the same time, May appears to be moving her party to the left, to occupy ground abandoned by Corbyn's collection of loonies.
What I have in common with you is a feeling of:
"What the fuck is actually going on?"

I also don't like the anti-immigrant rhetoric, if only because it avoids the real problem, which is that the whole planet is overcrowded, not just this bit of it.

BTW
I read through part of your link & it does seem the commenter was not entirely on solid ground, though, judging by subsequent remarks.
"Seriously confused" might be a good description.

397:

All thanks to Tony Blair and his shithead sidekick Jack Straw

398:

So is Trump Windrup?
OTOH, the phrase "It couldn't possibly happen here" always got my father annoyed, because, in the 1950's ( & later ) it was always used to denigrate Germany & the Germans ... having arrived in said country in May 1945 ( As part of CivMilGov ) my father well-knew that it was all bollocks, but to try to convince people of this, who would rather believe the propaganda, was a stiff task.

399:

I'll admit I haven't yet read my copy of the book, which I got around the time T.Rump announced he was running. I was suggesting it in a semi-ironic "everything old is new again" way. Philip Roth's "The Plot Against America" may be worth a reread too.

400:

My understanding on the French grape blight was that root stock from Missouri was used.

401:

Re Charlie's post 345: my late ex, who worked as an engineer at the Cape for 17 years, told me that the engineers every few years tried to get NASA to allow them to put that stage into orbit - actually, she said they had to fire reverse thrusters to de-orbit them, but management always got cooties from the idea. Hell, three of those, or four, fastened to a hub, and ones perpendicular, and you'd have the beginnings of a Real Space Station (i.e, The Wheel).

On an unrelated note, I may have seen the suggestion somewhere, or I may have dreamed it, of running elevator cables to LEO (or maybe 700km, and then a launch just going straight up, and matching their 1.6km/hr. Now worry 'bout weather....

mark

402:

Apologies if this has been gone over already, the possibility I see in SpaceX's BFR is projects that aren't really worth a half dozen expensive launches on smaller boosters might be justifiable if it can go up in one expensive launch. An SPSS prototype would be one such example, or a system that could be fed regolith at one end and deliver glass and metal at the other would be more possible with the BFR.

403:

I recall reading something cynical about de-orbitting shuttle tanks, that having them as a basis for a space station would compromise the flow of money to the usual suspects.

404:

Cane toads and rabbits introduced into Australia were NOT modified for human use in any way. If some of the rabbits were the fat slow domestic meat rabbits, they were eaten by dingoes. So that is not a good counterexample.

As for Roundup Ready Canola, it is competitive... in a very specific man-made environment. Again, resistance to Roundup offers no benefits in the wild. If anything, you affirmed my point.

405:

Oops. I meant to bold only the words man-made.

[[ fixed for you - mod ]]

406:

Actually, labour seems to be re-occupying the ground, it's just it's a bit late after the depredations of Blair and Brown. It's a decade now since one of my colleagues (ex- Ravenscraig, time served welder who coild stick any two bits of metal together) explained how people in north Lanarkshire were thinking of voting BNP because they at least sounded like they were interested in supporting local people, rather than closing hospitals down and not funding proper care for the elderly.

Also see this:
http://www.harrowell.org.uk/blog/2016/09/29/bradford-populism-and-after/

The large number of people rejoining the labour party under Corbyn (I know quite a few who have, their previous memberships lapsing under the neoliberal rule of warmongering Blair) are probably a majority of old labour sorts. The problem is putting a coherent message together to appeal to the xenophobic sorts who also voted old labour because they knew tories wouldn't do them any good. Or bypass them altogether.


407:

Ah, I was not referencing my performance dribble on this forum: more a metaphysical statement. Given that I've never voted in an UK election I might be over-stating my importance somewhat. [True]

Neither was I trying to down-play what you were referring to, it was more a "here's some positives / cheer in the face of it".

And yes - an irony being she once had a job for the film "Four weddings and a Funeral" labelled... "aristocracy co-ordinator" [True] Which is followed up by the seemingly unironic: The Conservative conference was thick with the smell of power. Labour's was thick with the smell of patchouli Telegraph, 5th Oc, 2016. [True]

For the record, I don't think the split in this Will to Power type stuff is on the same lines: the Othering certainly feels along radically different strata. i.e. Money / Breeding / Class.

I'd be more worried if I were the third Abrahamic religion than the first this time around. [Serious, thus my blathering. It wasn't a statement of desire, it was a translation of warning]


~

You'll note that "patchouli" reference though; it's at least 30 years out of date.

Things that I think are going on:

#1 Serious existential crisis in Ideology. Both parties are returning to 20th C thinking (for Greg: you'll be happy to know that some of the Momentum lot are indeed Trots and were indeed educated at the highest ranked universities in the country - I checked last week) instead of forging anything new. Corbyn - return to old left; Tories - return to Meritocracy-as-Elitism / Rulers of the Universe (while having to engage with ever further Right xenophobia / racism / hate and 'Dominate and Control it').

#2 Tie this into the topic - same pattern we're seeing in the USA (?). Mars is old old news - send some scientists, attempt a Red/Green/Blue type setup, but all the rest is fluff. Boeing stating that their rocket would be the one to get there first feels like a snide jab rather than a vain-glorious statement of proud attempt.

#2a I think that a certain strata have reached the same acceptance of the Four Horsemen that I often dribble about, but have of course decided to sail a different ocean. e.g.
Tony Abbott appointed director of new thinktank to promote western civilisation Guardian, 4th Oct 2016. If you can believe that working without extreme cynicism and/or cognitive dissonance, well, you're more alien than I.

#3 I have personally witnessed someone (who mistakenly thought I was something else, ironic) reference 'work camps' as a long term goal, approx 8 years ago. [REDACTED] applies. Then again, I've seen Other Things so you might not believe my personal word on this.


All of these basically boil down to a total inability to deal with the enormity of what the 21st C is going to be. It's a childish, fractured retreat into comfy snug blankets they understand.

But it's mainly about not having a fucking clue how to transition from a Capitalist system or even moderate it. [All sides - personal opinion].


# The Wild Hunt. You'll probably guess that I take the Witches' Warning more seriously than Others here. [Serious & True]

~
#400 My understanding on the French grape blight was that root stock from Missouri was used.

Depends on the teller - it's more a factual statement of what the "Illuminati" actually get up to / think is worth doing as a counter-conspiracy theory. Wikipedia claims it was Texan: The root stock that Munson used in France came from the wild Mustang and domestic grapes of Ingleside, Texas. .

And yes, I am tying that little tale into current Political issues.

408:

Ordinarily I would buy this; it may have even been a part of the reason NASA managers refused to consider the idea, but "space station made of shuttle tanks" was really DOA even without such nefarious considerations.

A space station is far more than just a hull. It is electric systems, cooling/heating systems, air systems, communication gear, attitude control thrusters (and their fuel tanks), airlocks, and many other things. Normally all of it is built on Earth in clean rooms. Whereas in order to turn shuttle tanks into space stations, all of it would have to be brought up separately (incidentally reducing the cost savings), then installed by astronauts is space suits.

Think of it for a moment: Job normally done be technicians in latex gloves in a clean room, is instead to be done in zero gravity, by people in spacesuits, with space gloves. It could be done, but at horrendous expense in terms of both spacewalk time, and the time astronauts would have to spend learning how to do the job of spacecraft technicians, in a very hostile environment.

In short, it is one of those ideas which sound great in theory, but are terrible in practice.

409:

The Aft Cargo Carrier was one of the solutions proposed for ET conversion. Basically a lump bolted on to the back end of the tank to carry large diameter payloads, but which could be fitted out as a workshop with a hatch through to the hydrogen tank. Once the tank had been purged and repressurised, installation of equipment could be done in a shirt sleeve environment.

The big problem with any re-use of an ET on orbit was that the foam insulation on the outside would pop-corn and fall off in vacuum resulting in the tank being in the middle of an expanding debris field and with no insulation. Developing and testing an alternative never got a budget...

410:

The Preparatory Manual of Chemical Warfare Agents Third Edition

'Tis a bullshitter's book in the glorious tradition of The Poor Man's James Bond and The Anarchist's Cookbook, with somewhat more academic language to snare people who know a little (but not a lot) about chemistry. The best written information on the manufacture of explosives and chemical warfare agents was and is published by governments and academics. It used to be somewhat occulted because your rando crank didn't know how to effectively search the holdings of a large academic library, but nowadays it's all digitized anyhow and keyword search works the same as it does for the larger net. HathiTrust, archive.org, Google Books, Google Scholar, BookZZ, sci-hub: there's a wealth of tools out there for identifying and/or obtaining specialized books and documents. A lot of the Deep Old Knowledge of practical chemistry from before ~1960 that's still resting untranslated in German and French is now accessible to non-fluent chemists via machine translation. (Yeah, the translations are still so-so, but the monolingual chemist has enough domain knowledge to make sense of the output despite fractured phrasing.)

411:

I think chemical clouds would have dispersal issues to work well. One good solution to deal with big waste (like boosters) is micro bots with a deploy-able tether. The bots are designed to be light to give an easy change in velocity, and designed to grab the largest waste and hug it. A small tether then extends, and will greatly increase the drag (both magnetic and atmospheric).

Something I liked for smaller bits, stuff like paint chips and gloves, is using a laser. Would work well with testing laser launch systems, and easy sell to the DoD/MoD since it has anti-sat use (to be fair so do the microbots). Idea is heat up a chunk of the debris, cause some vaporization to break up the debris. Do it in the right part of the orbit and you can help push it down deeper. Lots of potential headaches getting it right. Also concerns since it is in principle an anti-sat weapon and potentially an anti-ICBM. May be more politically feasible to use one from the atmosphere.

I think I also heard of someone using a micro sat idea combined with something more like the chemical idea, basically microsats designed to put an expandable foam/goop to increase the drag on really small items its hard to hit. I think the foam/goop might be combinable with other concepts. The key idea is increase surface area.

412:

Oh, I know that it's fake. I loaded the page anyhow, and it was immediately obvious. [If you want tech specs on 'Riot Control Agents', just grab the correct White Papers that .gov tend to keep open on their systems but not indexed. Just sayin]

I was just amused that Google's algo had linked genuine research on biosecurity [the stuff referred to / linked is 100% genuine science / policy docs, nothing secret, just the everyday workings of U.N. / National bodies who are mostly composed of rather boring agricultural researchers / vets / etc] with conspiracy jokes and hit that with a simple search line of 'Al2O3 + 2 NaOH --> 2Na+ + 2[Al(OH)4]-' [Well, Al + NaOH but you get the point. For the record, I'm not a chemist, but know enough about research to find people who do. Usually with an .edu tag on it].

It was almost as if Google was playing a joke of its own...
(...and when my arrest is announced as a perversion of the New English Order, no doubt it will be used in my trial and splashed on the front of the Daily Mail with Siri testifying to my guilt).

~

#411

I didn't refer to lasers since I presumed that ASAT orbits would apply. i.e. limited, would require far too many compared to # space debris out there, other Nation States not agreeing to militarization of Space etc. Oh, and it was too sensible. Was trying to think in the "so daft it might just work" area ;)

413:

EG it only works if you do some sort of wet lab concept, ala some of the proposed saturn V moonlab ideas.

Kinda sad instead we didn't do one of the alternative shuttle configurations like the Shuttle-C or Shuttle-Z where the orbiter is replaced by single use large cargo module. Could of gotten a lot of the space station up at once. I suppose politics and lack of development for the alt-shuttle configurations combined with Challenger to kill it.

414:

Except, if you are really worried about anti-semitism & nasty (as in Nazi-Soviet pact) goings-on, Corbyn's version of Labour is really unpleasantly close ......

I note May has rowed back from Rudd's wilder remarks - I suggest today's "Evening Standard" for an update whilst allowing for its right-wing bias, of course)

415:
Actually, I suspect you're wrong: bioweapons are ridiculously easy to deploy, when it comes to crop killers. The problem is that you can't stop the damn things once you've deployed them.

Absolutely: very easy to deploy. But not at the necessary scale with the necessary timing. That requires thousands of people all over the world to keep a secret for years. As they say, three people can keep a secret--if two of them are dead.

To answer the question of why the terrorists have never deployed, say, wheat stem rust (Puccinia graminis) in the US or anywhere else is that they like to eat too. Once a highly resistant fungus is released, sooner or later it's going to attack the crops that feed you.

I think this assumes far too much rationality on the part of extremists. Had any discussions with anti-vaxxers or anti-fluoridationers recently? And they are just selfish and lazy middle-class idiots, not the real deal.

The number of crops you could nuke with fungi is ... all of them.

Yes; quite so. But more than one fungus is required, and the scale problem exists also.

... I suspect we're going to see more trouble as groundwater depletion becomes an increasing problem in more big farming areas. The Ogallala aquifer area is only going to be producing crops for another 20-40 years before that aquifer is depleted, and we're going to have to cut back California's crop production by ~3 million acres in the next 10-20 years. China's got the same problems, as does the Middle East, and apparently eastern Australia's in worse shape than California.

Note that Israel, in the heart of the dry Middle East, has a water surplus.

Water problems exist because water has been cheap and plentiful enough that investment in its efficient use was unprofitable, and especially because water is allocated politically. These are changing. Relatively trivial investment, half a trillion dollars or so, is all that is required. It'll be made when there's profit enough in it.

416:

Introduced species are organisms adapted to and in many cases at equilibrium in their original context. Changing the context means reordering the competitive pressures, sometimes (not always) leading to feral population explosions. Cane toads and rabbits are well known, but the same is the case for camels, water buffalo, domestic dogs and cats, dung beetles, daytura, lantana and chinese elm. Sure not all of these are selectively bred for specific traits, but that's beside the point. They are all unintended consequences of changing the context.

So cane toads, for instance, were introduced deliberately for a specific trait (a mistaken one as it turns out) but the change in context and the different selective pressures led to a massive feral population expansion. Your argument follows if you take an organism from a specific context, change it by applying (or maximising) a trait in such a way that by doing so the organism now has a competitive disadvantage, then re-introducing it to the same context. My point was that argument does not establish a universal case, and can't.

Regarding Roundup Ready Canola - your point relies on the added traits introducing a disadvantage (not simply not conveying an advantage) in "the wild" and my point was that this is surely somewhat neutral (the trait may survive a long time simply because there's no selective pressure against it). But going further, I'm not sure wilderness as such is a meaningful concept here. There is no "the wild" where all competitive pressures apply and "domestic" where none do - the world has a whole bunch of contexts only a few of which align to such a binary understanding. It isn't even really a continuum - the conditions in a given context are what they are, and generally much more complex than continuous. The main concern is the context where the organism might be found. Glyphosate resistance certainly makes it harder for us to kill it, and many of the contexts where we might find canola growing "wild", that is a competitive advantage.

417:

The only actual use for a huge booster I see is larger space based telescopes and easier missions in the solar system, since you get a bigger mass/fuel budget. Just to think of what this would mean for the exploration of our solar system. Confession time, I'm not a huge astronomy nerd, but I imagine with more larger telescopes in Orbit we could properly map the asteroid belt. Or how about this - electronics that works in high pressure/temp. environments exists, like IC in drill heads for oil drilling. Now you have a large mass budget, you could build a venus lander (or flyer) that lasts longer than a few hours.
Can you build a really light structure from wire that keeps taut by spinning? then we could have a huge radiotelescope.


Here' my favorite conspiracy theoryright now - rationalwiki on the hyperloop:

given the way Musk bashed California high speed rail when he announced his project, it is not unreasonable to assume that part of his intention was to keep the latter from getting built. Unsurprisingly, a favorite line of attack by anti-HSR people in California has become "bla bla bla Hyperloop is cheaper bla bla Hyperloop is better bla bla Elon Musk is a genius". Of course the fact that Elon Musk is currently selling cars has nothing to do with any of this.

So, assuming it's not actually Mars he wants to go to (because not that possible in the coming decades). what is the goal?

418:

No you are not.

I wanted to add that I don't regard the weightless sex sub-topic as being exhausted and I'm still not adequately convinced by the case either side has made. I mean I genuinely don't know. Like many I've tried the swimming pool version and that doesn't really resolve things. Sure, positions involving the edge are easiest and floating out in the water can work in certain ways... but does that actually depend on the presence of gravity? I can't be sure, and I've been following the arguments either way with interest. This is an important thing that we all need to know: must we make room in our carry-on luggage allowances for bondage straps not?

420:

>The trend in everything else is miniaturisation.

No it's not. (Unless you're mistaking electronics for "everything".) [Examples]

Fair points. I was thinking of the other possible things to do in space. Pace Boeing and Hyundai Heavy, the trend in manufacturing seems generally smaller. Even in steelmaking. The earlier suggestions for things to make in space for profit (fancy crystals and biofilms) seem especially prone to this trend.

As for the chicken and the egg... Well, tourism, extreme astronomy, military weapons and vanity projects are the only things we've come up with so far that would require BDBs. Oh, and things that would allow us to go further out into space for reasons of tourism, power expression and vanity. But yeah. Other people may well have other ideas.

421:

As I mentioned earlier in the discussion, the James Webb telescope will be launched in 2018. It has a folding segmented mirror that's 6.5 metres in diameter and it all fits on an Ariane V, as did the Herschel observatory (3.5 metre single dish). Any future large space telescope will likely use the same technology since it's less fragile and easier to build -- a good rule of thumb for big glass is double the diameter is ten times the cost and three times the time budget, and most modern large glass in terrestrial observatories is multi-mirror for similar reasons (weight, correctability, cost etc.)

As for deep-space probes there's no reason we couldn't launch them into orbit and refuel them there, or couple them to a fuelled-up tug launched separately. That would cost more and researchers would rather spend the extra money on two different projects but it wouldn't need to share the development cost of a new BDB before it could be launched.

422:

>So, assuming it's not actually Mars he wants to go to (because not that possible in the coming decades). what is the goal?

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DefaceOfTheMoon?

423:

Interesting news about methane releases in Nature today. (Abstract and refs available if you don't have access.)
Upward revision of global fossil fuel methane emissions based on isotope database
More about new database
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/d13C-src-inv/
This sort-of answers some questions I had a while back about carbon isotope ratios; what looks like good work is indeed being done.
One takeaway (from abstract. ref links in original removed):
After accounting for natural geological methane seepage, we find that methane emissions from natural gas, oil and coal production and their usage are 20 to 60 per cent greater than inventories. Our findings imply a greater potential for the fossil fuel industry to mitigate anthropogenic climate forcing, but we also find that methane emissions from natural gas as a fraction of production have declined from approximately 8 per cent to approximately 2 per cent over the past three decades.
8 percent to 2 percent is very good progress and presumably more can be made, perhaps with appropriate incentives.
In combination with satellite methane observations (Satellite observations of atmospheric methane and their value for quantifying methane emissions (GOSAT etc) the instrumentation-based understanding/modeling is improving rapidly.

424:

To be fair, apparently they did warn him off beforehand. He just wouldn't take the hint...

Just what is the feminine version? Stubborn Bitch always seems to mundane in comparison.

Hyenas, with their clitoris issues always seemed the logical go-to, but men don't appear to like the optics of the whole thing[1].


*References 2000AD picture of Chopper reaching down his pants for a hand grenade*, that was a thread, once:

Quite interesting moves behind the scenes, esp. in terms of Alt-Right Marketing campaigns:

The Pentagon gave a controversial UK PR firm over half a billion dollars to run a top secret propaganda programme in Iraq, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal.

Bell Pottinger’s output included short TV segments made in the style of Arabic news networks and fake insurgent videos which could be used to track the people who watched them, according to a former employee.

The agency’s staff worked alongside high-ranking US military officers in their Baghdad Camp Victory headquarters as the insurgency raged outside.

Bell Pottinger's former chairman Lord Tim Bell confirmed to the Sunday Times, which worked with the Bureau on this story, that his firm had worked on a “covert” military operation “covered by various secrecy agreements.”

Bell Pottinger reported to the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Council on its work in Iraq, he said.

This investigation was published in collaboration with The Sunday Times, and a version was also published by The Daily Beast. It is part of a series by the Bureau looking at the use of military contractors worldwide.

Fake News and False Flags - How the Pentagon paid a British PR firm$500 million for top secret Iraq propaganda Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 2nd Oct, 2016

Private contractors fighting Pentagon’s online war against Islamic State Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 3rd Oct, 2016

Lots of prior dirt, Independent / Guardian, and Blair / Uzbekistan [did the President die? Rumors then fade to black. Odd].

~

Interesting choices there:

BIJ - open - honest - David E. Potter - CBI / Royal Engineers - software - establishment
Times - $ - read by the people who actually *do* run the country
Daily Beast - $ - NY


There's a burn from orbit angle here ~ it may be that the whole MIC spat is getting... *ahem* wider focused.


[1] They give birth through it. It's worse than the human carnage. Yes, this is the internet, there are videos if you want. Rule34 compliant, futa loves them.

425:

Except, if you are really worried about anti-semitism & nasty (as in Nazi-Soviet pact) goings-on, Corbyn's version of Labour is really unpleasantly close ......
Can somebody explain (e.g. to this American) how anti-semitism is distributed in the UK, in any dimensions of interest?
And why it wouldn't be significantly suppressed, relative to e.g. hatred of Islam, due to a still-in-memory existential conflict with the Nazis?
(Not belittling concerns in the slightest, just asking.)

426:

Then again, allegedly this was all pre-buy out, that department no longer exists, la la plausible denial so it might just be an astroturf / wash job that B.Pott can easily shrug off.

Cross referencing the Pentagon staff while political affiliation etc might be more worth-while.

Trump's favorite General - does he actually exist?

[Rumor mill]: A lot of Russian / smoke on the whole Syrian rebels / McCaine stuff linking this into prior 'hacked' videos [previously linked by moi].

Could signal a House clearing operation.

427:

Any future large space telescope will likely use the same technology since it's less fragile and easier to build -- a good rule of thumb for big glass is double the diameter is ten times the cost and three times the time budget, and most modern large glass in terrestrial observatories is multi-mirror for similar reasons (weight, correctability, cost etc.)

Since we're well over 300, allow me to describe a fantasy I've had for many years.

In space, procure a large, shallow dish, like a quiche pan several meters in diameter. Affix a very low trust motor to the bottom and start the dish rotating slowly. Pour thermosetting/ photosetting or other such material into the dish, maintaining the rotation at the desired rpm. Turn on the motor to a thrust level that will make the glop in the dish assume a parabolic shape of the desired curvature. Wait until the glop solidifies and coat the parabolic surface with sputtered aluminum or other coating of your preference.

Just as is, it should be a decent light bucket and, with some finishing and/or corrective optics it could even give well resolved images.

428:

For anyone who wants UK universities to stay out of corporate hands ...


http://www.nature.com/news/oppose-the-uk-higher-education-and-research-bill-1.20726?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20161006&spMailingID=52464950&spUserID=MzgzOTcyMTc0OTkS1&spJobID=1020921868&spReportId=MTAyMDkyMTg2OAS2


Excerpt:

'A draft law, the Higher Education and Research Bill, is making its way through the House of Commons. The bill amounts to the biggest shake-up in the sector for more than a generation. It is designed, among other things, to make it easier for private companies to set up universities, and to enable more researchers to commercialize their work. If it passes, existing funding bodies will close and replacements will be created. But in the process of change, the bill rips up an 800-year-old settlement between the nation’s scholars and the state. It opens the door to unacceptable political interference. It must be resisted.'

Personally I don't see why corporations and/or governments need to do this as both already have in-house R&D or so the budgets and tax records/begging for Gov't hand-outs to corporations indicate. Or is this another tactic to get more money out of Gov't by corporations who can afford more lobbyists than can academia?

Seriously - why screw around with a system that has worked well for 800 years? And, do you really want 'Trump University' on your/your kids' degree? (Watch the John Oliver videos on Trump University and US student debt in case you're unfamiliar with what a hellish trap this is.)


429:

Heard something interesting about water conservation last summer:
www.harvestpublicmedia.org/article/western-kansas-farmers-try-new-irrigation-system-aimed-saving-water

Saw one of those rigs from the highway while crossing "Brownbackistan". When the aquifer runs too low for irrigation, farming doesn't stop, but dry land farming will see lower yields.

431:

Forget it Jake, it's China Town.

California is toast, done, gone. [I've previously linked, but new study as confirmation]

We find that regional temperature increases alone push megadrought risk above 70, 90, or 99% by the end of the century, even if precipitation increases moderately, does not change, or decreases, respectively. Although each possibility is supported by some climate model simulations, the latter is the most common outcome for the American Southwest in Coupled Model Intercomparison 5 generation models.

Relative impacts of mitigation, temperature, and precipitation on 21st-century megadrought risk in the American Southwest Science Advances 05 Oct 2016


Simply put: 70% is if global / regional temps decrease (not happening) - 90-99% chance of a mega-drought.

No matter what you doooo.


Of course, if you burn through the aquifers as current use, the TIME decreases.

432:

Wonders if the Apes get it yet.


Probably Not.

433:

Charlie, it's time to get the fuck out.

Move to Southern California, hang out with Cory, and one day I'll take you to Clifton's Cafeteria - we can share a couple pints sitting at Ray Bradbury's favorite table...

434:

Bold Move Cotton: Offers to save loved Author, moves him to a place with a 99% chance of Mad Max taking place soon.

Picture Note - light = no drought, dark = definitely drought. Opposite to the heat maps used usually, so confusing. Hint: it's very dark, and forget the top 2oC change.


You're offering him a place the greatest cosplay ever seen.


Mad Max: Fury Road - Opening Scene YT: film: 5:40.


Pro-tip: Move to NZ.

435:

My assumption is that if the Tories crank the fascism machine up to eleven no place in the Commonwealth will really be safe, particularly Canada, Australia, and New Zealand; the extradition treaties will probably still apply, and that's bad news for someone who makes fun of Theresa May.

What Charlie really needs is someplace where they don't have an extradition treaty with the Brits or are disinclined to extradite over attacks on the wrong political party. I'd expect that Cory did some level of research before settling in this area, thus it is safe for Charlie too.

If I'm wrong, I'm sure OGH will tell me so!

436:

Just for the record, where OGH lands is a minor issue. Where he gets out of is huge. (Or as the Oompa Loompa would put it, "Yuugge!")

437:

I have cast a paraboloid in plaster using that method (albeit with the Earth's gravitational field substituting for the axial acceleration). Diameter roughly 250mm. Worked OK, and one day I'd like to make a bigger one to use as a solar collector, but it would need a jolly fine turntable.

Main difficulty was instability: if the rotating mass isn't evenly distributed, the lateral forces are such as to amplify the eccentricity, and the thing quickly starts to wobble and spill, width of base notwithstanding. That would still apply in space, but most of the others probably wouldn't, apart from distortion from the goop changing dimensions as it solidifies. But I guess you could embed piezo elements or something in it to compensate for that.

438:

I'm fairly sure if that Assange is still 'safe' in London, Ecuador Embassy, then USA - UK extradition treaties for minor trolling offenses while being a million+ seller of books is ok.

On the other hand, you're taking the death / migration / desiccation of the 5th [thanks to Mrs May] largest economy in the world pretty well.

~

Not sure if hysterical, deluded or just "fuck it, dying soon anyhow".


p.s.


One of us is being flippant.

One of us is viewing ~50-75 mil people being dislocated and the loss of 10%-15% of US agriculture, the largest GDP State in the USA (~30% larger than Texas, who, by the way, is also totally fucked) basically ceasing to exist.


I have this real problem. I've been tortured a lot, and have issues with Reality[tm].

Then I remember it's not me, it's you.fucking.apes.

439:

"Personally I don't see why corporations and/or governments need to do this"

The confused interaction of various more or less daft ideologies. The longstanding poison in the British educational system of denialism of variations in intellectual ability. The idea that "unemployment is baad, m'kay": the refusal to acknowledge it as a healthy sign (being an indication that the need for work is reducing), the refusal to address it in any other way than by inventing more ways to force people to do work that isn't needed. The idea that "nobody is allowed to be a failure", where "failure" is defined as not obtaining a job by reason of not having gained the required academic qualifications. The constant reinforcement of values which see that definition as both useful and valid. The idea that employers have a fixed and unchanging notion of the value of qualifications so that if you frig the system to enable more people to obtain prestigious ones, employers will start handing out jobs to people they wouldn't previously have considered.

Such as these led to a policy of encouraging an order of magnitude increase in the number of people going to university, with a corresponding increase in the cost of providing universities, leading to government going "oh shit, didn't think about that" and reneging on election promises concerning the financial burden on students. Then we get a change of government to one which is not just inclined towards, but is positively obsessed by, the ideology of privatisation-solves-all-problems, government shouldn't pay for anything, and commercial value being the only kind of value that exists. Which makes it a logical move.

Someone on here - I think it was Jocelyn Ireson-Paine - recommended to me "The Trouble with Physics" by Lee Smolin. I repeat the recommendation, not only for the stuff about the development of string theory which is the subject of the book, but the way it is obvious (even though he dances all around the point without ever actually saying it) that scientific research in general is crippled, corrupted and generally fucked by the insistence on running universities as capitalist insitutions, that the position of an academic has to be either "a job" first and a researcher second, or a negotiation of the labyrinth of the politics of universities in the hope of freeing oneself from this straitjacket which is arguably a case of the cure being worse than the disease, that research has to be paid for by someone else and the consequent increase of difficulties for anyone researching something that doesn't obviously show short-term profits. "The Book of Woe" by Gary Greenberg is an even more unsettling exposition of the rather more unpleasant fuckups induced by the same forces acting on the medical and pharmaceutical spheres (which I only got half way through because the desire to beat my head against the wall got too much, but the chap who recommended it to me reckons that means I got the point). Both these books have a strong US focus, but we are increasingly afflicted by the same problems in Britain, and I consider them most useful reading for anyone interested in where we're heading.

440:

Oh, and if [and that's a huge stupid silly IF] all this bollocks about registering foreign nationals, children etc actually gets to a level that's threatening [you know, since MI5/6 already know all of this anyhow, it's not like the UK isn't tracking all data at all times or there's not census data, utility bills, bank statements and all the rest] then:

#WildHunt2017

It's not. It's a bargaining chip and it's nasty and scary and so on but the Grim Meathook future where a mass Purge occurs no longer exists.

Sensible Minds refute that reality (and, well, Temporally it got nuked from orbit, takes a while to shake out and reset), and it relies on a tabloid level of understanding how things work.

It's just weaponized Fear / Psychosis weaponry (and pretty low energy at that).


p.s.

The Wild Hunt is late stuff -

Many men both saw and heard a great number of huntsmen hunting. The huntsmen were black, huge, and hideous, and rode on black horses and on black he-goats, and their hounds were jet black, with eyes like saucers, and horrible. This was seen in the very deer park of the town of Peterborough, and in all the woods that stretch from that same town to Stamford, and in the night the monks heard them sounding and winding their horns.

1127.

~

Wild Frontier (Official Video)


Wyrd Mons. It's a mountain on Venus. Sex references ahoy.

Á gleri ok á gulli
ok á gumna heillum,
í víni ok í virtri
ok vilisessi,
á Gugnis oddi
ok á Grana brjósti,
á nornar nagli
ok á nefi uglu.

I might be a bit broken, I still think Humans can do this whole change thing. And if you can't, see you on the fucking barricades.


If I didn't break, pretty sure the Whole Ones Won't.

441:

Oh, and an utter, utter, utter curse on the fucking muppets in the USA who didn't analyze the Juggalos when the Alt Right were playing hay. [And no: #gamergate is not what you think it is, either, nor am I a horror for listening to them or the rest].

The Juggalos know they're mocked (for lack of education, class, money, talent, aesthetics, beauty, all the fucking Greek Arete that's been perverted within the Western Dream to be unobtainable by the masses).

They're not even political animals or non-Capitalist [in fact, they're strongly Capitalist due to being shit dirt poor; c.f. Zef].

Their philosophy is radical inclusion within group. It's not much, but you'd be surprised at how decent they are.

~

And it took the pundits a while to notice it [and I hate having to poke them, sooo close to breaking some rules there]:

I’m hopeful for America’s future because I look forward to that halcyon day, unbelievable as it may seem, when I will walk alongside my fellow Juggalos and demand justice. The world is a scary place right now but it’s not devoid of hope. I have discovered, however, that sometimes hope can be found in the unlikeliest of places, and at this point the whole dark carnival is looking like a shimmering beacon of pure light.

Who’s the real insane clown posse? Trump fans give Juggalos a run for their money in “7 Days in Ohio” Salon, Sept 24th 2016


~


Note to Remain Brexit: this is the kind of knowledge you missed. [And yes: technically cheating, but prove it].

442:

> But I guess you could embed piezo elements or something in it to compensate for that.

Yes. I think the general idea is interesting and perhaps promising, but the engineering details would have to be explored to see if it could be made to work. Seems like something that could be done on or near ISS as a first step.

443:

p.s.

Getting from "Big Dumb Booster(s)" to #441 took a bit of work, and I'm sure the Juggalos will enjoy the kudos of the title. But I'm boosting the Light, after all.

Spoiler: Mars is/was all about hope, striving, achievement, flags [yadda yadda 1950's Puppies Wank Fest] and it's clearly been co-opted into 'just another Culture War' within the MIC. (Oh, and Ares / Mars pun was a bit clunky, but it ties in).

And, tbh, Musk missed the entire point of K.S.Robinson's Mars trilogy.


So: Fokkin Magnets.

If magic is all we've ever known
Then it's easy to miss what really goes on
But I've seen miracles in every way
And I see miracles everyday
Oceans spanning beyond my sight
And a million stars way above em at night
We don't have to be high to look in the sky
And know that's a miracle opened wide

...

I've seen shit that'll shock your eyelids
The sun and the moon, and even Mars
The Milky Way and fucking shooting stars
UFOs, a river flows
Plant a little seed and nature grows

...

There's nothing but miracles beyond your door
The Dark Carnival is your invitation
To witness them without explanation
Take a look at this fine creation
And enjoy it better with appreciation
Crows, ghosts, the midnight coast
The wonders of the world, mysteries the most
Just open your mind, and it ain't no way
To ignore the miracles of every day

Miracles (Official Music Video) YT: ICP: 4:22


~


And, if you're a signed up Predator: ICP defeats Trump.


*Buffs Scales and Preens*


444:

Personally I don't see why corporations and/or governments need to do this as both already have in-house R&D or so the budgets and tax records/begging for Gov't hand-outs to corporations indicate. Or is this another tactic to get more money out of Gov't by corporations who can afford more lobbyists than can academia?

It also removes a source for independent (and inconvenient) research and fact-checking. University researchers have more independence than government scientists (and much more than corporate workers) — which can be inconvenient to both governments and corporations.

445:

Long post - deleted.

Not really my place anymore. Salt Pillars = probably a bit biased, so data:

London - Haredi community is only one Americans will really see as comparable. 60% Jewish census within London. Historical geographical location.

0.5% population. ~400k or so. 700 or so Synagogues, mostly indistinguishable from small functional Christian Churches. Unlikely to see Orthodox outside of London.

Outside of London, mostly totally integrated / falling into "might mention as friend otherwise indistinguishable". Being the UK, Public School and being circumcised = probably the first time male peers would notice (communal showers).

Rabid Opposition: BNP/EDL = ~6k members, tops. Farmed like Combat 18 by MI5 to offset shit like UKIP going viral, oooops, budget cuts there, ouch.

Chances most UK residents have met a Jewish person = vanishingly small, even smaller since most outside London.

Mostly political due to Muslim voters, sadly (with old remnants of prejudice / memes / batshit 20th C crap in the over 50's, old oldies not pro-Jewish, Brown Shirts were a thing back then in the UK).

Political due to Palestine / Zionism / Muslim communities. e.g. Galloway, Livingstone.


~


Unbiased analysis: largely an Israeli / Immigrant issue / Zionism. Outside of generalized bullshit mimetic priming no real hate outside of radicalized communities and even then largely geopolitical in nature.

Used as weapon to beat up the left 'cause reasons.


~


Simply put: every UK child is taught the Holocaust. Most aren't taught to hate. Shit gets wild when they discover Israel / Palestine in Uni.

Current attempts to smear Labour over it are largely due to the PR hacks being hired. [c.f. UKIP hiring US talent for political campaign / Brexit].


TL;DR


Vastly overblown for anyone under 30 whose not in the 6k BNP/EDL stuff / ironic Pepedom. It's an ancient thing that the young simply just don't understand. [Coda: within Muslim communities, different].


Over 30?

Yeah, there's the fucking problem.

446:

"California is toast, done, gone"

Not really. California agriculture possibly, at least the way it currently exists but you only need 3% of current water supplies to supply the actual people.

It's also not s good idea to treat climate models as gospel they are best wild ass guesses at this stage in the game

447:

Ugh, links.

https://www.bod.org.uk/ (cover photo Mrs May... hmmm)
http://www.jewishsocialist.org.uk/ ('cause well, not every Jewish person hates Corbyn)
http://www.jglg.org.uk/ (Jewish Gay n Lesbian org)


Simply put: it's largely a PR tactic when it's not being used as a political tool or you've a raving muppet on the loose.

There's the difference.

And the Establishment is 100% a-ok with using such tools when required.


No Comply YT: Sensor, Music: 3:01. The radical left in the UK has a history of being against Fascist groups and racism. (Combat 18 was a hate group partly funded by MI5 and tied to football hooligans).

Let's just say: accusing the non-Communist left of antisemitism is total wank,


[Note: host might wildly disagree. I've spent a few years (80?) in the UK, never witnessed an anti-Semitic incident. Then again, what's that thing they say about not knowing the issue until you experience it within feminism? Same rules apply]

448:

Read the paper and look up how much you've got left in the aquifers then look at what +4oC does.

Mega-drought is a scientific term.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_California#Full_statistics_for_selected_cities


Add +4oC to all totals. Anything mid/deep red, cancel off the triage list.


~

Srsly.


You're arguing about this still.


You're looking at ~4,000,000,000 kill rate... and you're still fucking arguing this point as if I'd not posted multiple papers on it.


At what point should I just roll over, fuck the Wild Hunt, stop the torture for "humanity" and just fucking incarnate as something a little less fucking dumb?

449:

And, please: serious request.

Don't say shit like that if you've got children, have siblings with children, cousins etc. Basically make sure that your entire genetic line is eradicated before taking that stance.

Then, you might get a bit of respect for your sacrifice for humanity.


Otherwise: well done, you tortured your own genetic line.


How does that make you feel?

450:

Oh, and for the record: The fact that the UK didn't take in refugees from Europe 1933-39 is fucking shameful.

The UK (as Empire) should have immediately agreed to take in 10+ mil either within the UK (housing issues, this was still in the times of slums / pre-195/60s builds) or all over the Commonwealth.


Utterly shameful.

And, in a different universe, the take-a-way fusions would be amazing.

451:

Unbiased analysis: largely an Israeli / Immigrant issue / Zionism. Outside of generalized bullshit mimetic priming no real hate outside of radicalized communities and even then largely geopolitical in nature.
Thanks for the analysis. Sounds a little tamer than the US, but we have a larger mix of partially absorbed immigrant subcultures and a larger Jewish subpopulation. (FWIW teaching the Holocaust in public schools dates back to at least the 60s in the US, at least in the NYC area.) An ADL (US) study (2005; percentages have declined since I believe) suggests that anti-semitism is notably concentrated in the African-American and immigrant Hispanic subpopulations: ADL Survey: Anti-Semitism Declines Slightly in America; 14 Percent of Americans Hold 'Strong' Anti-Semitic Beliefs
Direct personal anecdotes I've heard over the years (again, U.S.) are mostly about incidents during the 1950s and 1960s (and earlier).
Waiting for likely responses from others in several hours.

452:

Oh, and... New Rap News.

HILLARY vs TRUMP + Jill Stein & Gary Johnson YT: Rap Juice News: 6:51.


And yes, they mention the Trump Child Rapist stuff.


#WildHunt2017

#GoingtoHell-HellNoYouGotPsychosesAndOurKindDon'tGoMad

453:

Honest Government Advert - We Tortured Some Kids YT: Rap News: 2:49


And, really: Why should I be responsible for draining the pus out of your psychosis?

Because I love Humans.

Literally Not Worth Saving, Give me my fucking wings back and allow me to not suffer this utter bullshit reality anymore #2016

#2017 Wild Hunt - how dare you fucking torture us, you utter utter cunts.

454:

Cynical view:

#1 UK didn't have Father Koch funding antisemitism
#2 UK didn't have AIPAC etc
#3 UK didn't have Evangelical Christianity
#4 UK was poor post WW2 and not an integral part of the entire affair post 1948
#5 UK didn't have many Jews outside London[1]

Realistically?

I've no idea how your Minds work.

I literally cannot interface with your Minds due to hate. It just comes across as psychotic noise / garbled nonsense.

I literally just get psychosis feedback loops.

[1] Which is just fucking what? If anything 1990-2010 has taught the UK, a massive influx of wealthy immigrants with liquid cash and finance experience who want to buy prime real estate in the centre of London is 100% the way to go. Which fucking muppet didn't get on THAT train in 1933?

455:

Numbers. You just aren't good at them

There is not a single expert or paper out there that is predicting anything other then "farming is fucked". The paper you linked does not say "California is gone".

If you want to go with the full global ecosystem collapse, assume 4 Billion deaths then it really doesn't matter a whole lot where you are and California is likely to be no worse then anywhere else and a helluvah lot better then Eastern asia for example.

456:

Agree with nearly all of that, especially about it being used as a political stick to beat the Left - an attempt at a distraction from the presence of actual Mein-Kampf-quoting Nazis on the Right, perhaps??

Couple of points though...

"Outside of London, mostly totally integrated / falling into "might mention as friend otherwise indistinguishable". Being the UK, Public School and being circumcised = probably the first time male peers would notice (communal showers)."

No. The rate of false positives would greatly exceed the rate of genuine positives, and nobody even thought of that as a test. You only got to know someone was Jewish from them talking about it; if they didn't, you didn't know. Excitement over an imminent bar mitzvah providing a reason to talk about it revealed quite a few boys as Jewish for the first time.

"Chances most UK residents have met a Jewish person = vanishingly small, even smaller since most outside London."

See above: s/met/knowingly met/

457:

I'd suspect it's a matter of identification, coupled with a different focus during WW2, ie. almost entirely on the Nazis, with Japan as a minor sideshow. I get the vague impression from general reading that American Jews are more likely to make it obvious in some way (mostly something other than orthodox dress and locks) that they are Jewish. In Britain you just don't know. (cf. standard stereotype of American exhibitionism vs. British reserve.)

Anti-Semitism sometimes seems almost universal in books written before or during WW2, but if it is shown as an attitude towards a specific character rather than just a general outlook, that character is always a conglomeration of grotesque stereotypes to make it obvious they're Jewish. But real Jews aren't like that and that immediate identification doesn't happen in real life. That anti-Semitism in literature disappears almost overnight after WW2, while other forms of racism persist for a couple of decades or more, and I suspect that once the Nazis had called attention to it it was a comparatively straightforward prejudice to eliminate, for the same reason as the tenacity of its persistence until then puzzles me: because you need to be told who to hate.

There is plenty to puke at in the way of current British racism: Islamophobia, and the use of melanisation as an indicator of religious affiliation, xenophobia, the way this shit is acceptable as front page headlines for national newspapers, the ruling party wanting schools and employers to report the percentage of "non-British" pupils/employees, etc, but denigration of Jews is conspicuous by its absence, and is still as much of a guaranteed way to get called a Nazi as it ever was. It puzzles me to have seen a recent surge in people expressing opposition to anti-Semitism because I have not seen any surge in people expressing anti-Semitism for them to oppose (unless it's intended as a reminder that anti-Semitism still exists even if other forms of racism are more prevalent).

I'm not sure that Zionism is entirely relevant. While I have seen accusations of anti-Semitism thrown around at the lower end of that debate, they mostly seem to be someone resorting to ad-hominem attacks when losing the argument against someone who in fact does make the distinction between Israeli policy and Jews in general, and is capable of separating their views on the one from their feelings towards the other. Among outsiders, at least, it seems to me that while it is a matter that arouses strong feelings, they are usually based on something more rational than prejudice.

458:

AFAIK anti-semitism in the UK is generally very low profile, but we still have nutters.
The ultra right of UKIP shading into whatever the BNP are called this week & the extreme left of what used to be the Labour party
[ As I said, shades of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact ]

The "shield" that anti-semites use is an attack on *ANY* jew, because they are portrayed as supporters of Netanyahu [ See also Charlie ]
Most of us can see through that one, fortunately.

459:

NO
Move to S Cal & die of dehydration?

460:

DON'T believe everything you read in the papers, whether right or left in orientation.
Funny how people immediately ascribe fascism to the tories, yet the moves to soviet-communism by Corby's lot get, not a free pass, but a much easier ride.

Apparently, the female nutter suggesting that foreign workers should be listed has had said statement rejected by Ms May.
Funny, that.

461:

CT: LIAR
Simply not true

If only because I've met quite a few & worked with some of them.
[ And was taught by one at school, too - he exited Germany in 1933, actually ]

462:

WRONG again
UK does have "evangelical christianity"
It's just that these days ( since 1919, anyway) they are usually either disregarded, or made polite noises to & then ignored.
AND: I should know, my local church, though CofE had a rabidly evangelical vicar - it was a close shave that I wasn't brainwashed, I can tell you.

463:

If you think that evangelical Christianity (and the toxic nastiness that goes with it) is disregarded and marginalised throughout the UK, then you're very wrong. There's at least one region where it's more-or-less the mainstream and has its hands on the (regional) levers of power and policy (and is fucking scary, for that).

Do remember that there are parts of the UK beyond the M25, and circles of society outside of the folks hanging out at your allotments.

464:

"Can you build a really light structure from wire that keeps taut by spinning? then we could have a huge radiotelescope."

Some US spy satellites can deploy dish antenna nearly 100m diameter. The NRO had Hubble size telescopes years before Hubble

465:

There's a lot of similar money floating around attached to Syria, and Assad's family member as replacement, but he just won't go quietly. Frustrating for some friends of friends of mine.

Dirk Bruere