Gary Michael Church
The cosmic ray rat story is probably an important benchmark in the history of spaceflight that very few people are picking up on.
As a troubleshooter I see clearly the flow chart on Human Space Flight-Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit (HSF-BELO) does not have many branches. Dashing back and forth through cislunar space to and from the Moon a half dozen times almost ended in disaster due to a solar event. Few people are aware of how close we came to losing an Apollo crew to a solar storm. The sanctuary penalty for these short duration storms is bad enough but for long duration multi-year missions the seemingly impossible obstacle to overcome is cosmic radiation.
The only solution is massive shielding- and artificial gravity to address the lesser though also serious problem of zero gravity debilitation. The mass penalty for the thousand plus tons of cosmic ray shielding and artificial gravity system means chemical propulsion is essentially useless for any HSF-BELO-capable-conveyance. Only nuclear energy will work- and to add insult to injury there is only one practical form of nuclear propulsion to be found in nuclear pulse propulsion. Atomic bombs. Actually, hydrogen bombs are the most efficient and the smaller fission devices are second best.
This inconvenient truth is so shocking to space advocates they automatically go into scornful denial. Lifting a thousand tons of tap water out of Earth’s gravity well is a non-starter. Lighting off bombs anywhere in the magnetosphere is not going to happen. Those without a simple understanding of the rocket equation and basic spaceflight principles will argue for the “flexible path” with various NewSpace propaganda slogans but these are easily refuted and then no one has a thing to say.
The silence is deafening.
While NASA publicizes LEO and Mars efforts and pushes entrepreneurial solutions any real progress in space exploration requires the anti-thesis of this policy. Abandoning the dead end of LEO, ignoring Mars for the foreseeable future, and returning to the Moon with a public works project on a never before seen scale is the only logical path.
The prophet of space colonization, Gerard K. O’Neill, figured out the Moon was the master key to open the door to space in the 70’s. What radically changed the situation even more in favor of developing the Moon was the 2010 evidence of ice deposits.
The ice on the Moon is the enabling resource that should be the central focus of all space advocacy. The only place to acquire the water-as-shielding, assemble, test, and launch nuclear missions is the Moon. It follows that the only revenue generator in space for now is the GEO satellite industry- and the only place to assemble water-shielded human-crewed space stations to supercede the present satellite junkyard is in lunar orbit using Super Heavy Lift Vehicle wet workshop upper stages. The assembled stations can transit back across cislunar space into GEO and capture the over 100 billion dollar revenues of that industry. This is the path to expanding the human presence into space- not LEO tourism. That this path bypasses LEO and is the kiss of death to the NewSpace business plan is the most inconvenient truth of all.