Hillary’s Biggest Mistake

5.8 million pound thrust SRB, 1965. How far the mighty have fallen!

At some point she is going to announce some kind of future space policy and with Ms. Garver being mentioned as her “space adviser”, this does not look good.
Not a win for space exploration or for the planet in general.

The only cure for climate change is to beam down the energy to power civilization from space. The only other solution is to kill off most of the human race and go back to herding goats.

Space Solar Power was the original cure for climate change proposed in the 1976 book by Gerard K. O’Neill, The High Frontier. Building solar power satellites on the Moon is still the only practical solution.

I would urge anybody concerned about the future of life on planet Earth to consider contacting Hillary Clinton and recommending Space Solar Power. The biggest mistake she could make will see the 21st century end in catastrophe or her best decision give birth to a second space age, and a new era in history.

Musk’s Biggest Mistake…..
While Ms. Garver may advise Hillary to follow the NewSpace agenda, this will only compound a fundamental error made repeatedly over the last half a century. This mistake is noted in a timeline I created for a critical four year period that determined the course of space exploration to this day. It begins on January 5, 1972, when President Richard M. Nixon announced his approval of the Space Transportation System.

“I have decided today that the United States should proceed at once with the development of an entirely new type of space transportation system designed to help transform the space frontier of the 1970s into familiar territory, easily accessible for human endeavor in the 1980s and ’90s.”

TRW Pressure-fed booster study is completed.
Apollo 17 returns to Earth and the first space age ends.

Sky Lab is launched.
Pioneer 10 first encounter with Jupiter

Last Sky Lab crew returns to Earth.
Hawking Radiation is predicted by Stephen Hawking.

The term “Global Warming” is first used.
NASA SP-413, A Design Study for Space Settlements, is completed.

The Soviet Luna 24 makes the last landing on the Moon for 37 years until the Chinese rover in 2013.
The High Frontier by Gerard K. O’Neill is published.

It is the second event, the TRW pressure-fed booster study, that connects directly to Elon Musk’s debilitating effect on the U.S. space program. The failure to develop the pressure-fed reusable booster was arguably the most disastrous decision made pertaining to the shuttle program. When Elon Musk began the “NewSpace revolution” he repeated the same error and insured nothing meaningful could be accomplished. The distraction of the “flexible path” has been worse for space exploration than both shuttle disasters.
There is no cheap.

For Hillary to effect any solution to climate change and a host of other problems facing the United States, a complete change of direction by the space agency will be required.

And if you are wondering why Hawking radiation is in the timeline, well, I could not really find anything else for 1974. It is the Genesis of perhaps the only known plausible “relativistic” drive.

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Luna 27 and U.S. Failure


The rest of the world is going to the Moon while we launch exploding hobby rockets and cheer for Matt Damon. The nation that built the Saturn V has to pay Russians hundreds of millions of tax dollars for a ride to the space station to nowhere that took over ten years and 100 billion U.S. tax dollars to build. The nation whose space agency is fighting with congress over funding the only Beyond Earth Orbit spacecraft being built (the space agency wants the hobby rocket instead). The nation that spends such a mind boggling sum on defense that billions disappear without a trace and nobody seems to question this- yet cannot build a rocket that takes astronauts even into the space-that-is-not-really-space of Low Earth Orbit.

The ice on the Moon is the critical enabling resource for any human expansion beyond Earth orbit. Yet because of the years ago campaign contribution from an internet billionaire who has made himself the invisible head of NASA, discussion of the Moon is….verboten.

Image: NASA

Image: NASA

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Spaceship in full shock

Spaceship in full recoil

Spaceship ready for powered flightSpaceship transitioning to artificial gravityEngine Section seperated from Crew SectionCrew Section separated from Engine SectionSpaceship in Artificial Gravity Mode print

Spaceship in Artificial Gravity Mode1astounding stories feb 1937

Most Americans are familiar with water towers and these towers are fascinating examples of the necessary minimum dimensions of what could be called a “true” spaceship. The definition of a true spaceship is a craft that can carry human beings on interplanetary journeys while providing an Earth gravity/radiation environment. The last part is what determines most of everything else- radiation is square one. As Eugene Parker has stated in his articles concerning the heavy nuclei component of galactic cosmic radiation, the only guaranteed solution to shielding space travelers is mass and distance. Mass on the order of 500 tons and a distance of about 15 feet- with water being the most utilitarian shielding material. Since this figure would protect only a minimum crew area the size of a small capsule, for long duration missions the psychological space necessary for mental health equates to a realistic shield way over 1000 tons. To push such a shield around the solar system at a speed that will allow missions to the gas and ice giants lasting 3 to 5 years only one form of propulsion is practical: H-bombs.

The two most difficult challenges when using nuclear pulse propulsion are first the scale required for an efficient engine and then where it can be fired. The “engine” used in pulse propulsion is essentially a metal disc massing a minimum of several thousand tons. The reason for the over one hundred foot diameter disc is the difficulty in building a small enough bomb to be efficient. The larger the disc, the larger the bomb that can be used and since H-bombs all use a standard amount of fissionable material with small amounts of tritium and deuterium added for the fusion reaction, pulse propulsion efficiency increases with size. As the disc approaches a thousand feet in diameter the Isp numbers soar into the tens of thousands. Lighting off H-bombs in the Earth’s magnetosphere results in fission byproducts being sucked down into the atmosphere and since this sphere extends almost to the Moon, the Moon is the jumping off point for interplanetary travel.

The remaining question is how to acquire the plate. The shielding can be had by way of lunar ice but bringing the disc up from Earth is problematic. Fabricating the engine from lunar titanium would be ideal but requires a factory. Giant lava tubes are theorized to exist beneath the surface of the Moon and these could serve as factory floors. An underground lunar factory with several hundred workers does not seem to be a possibility in this half of the century. The prerequisite is a Super Heavy Lift Vehicle much larger than the current SLS and flying at a rate the shuttle only aspired to (just before Challenger the shuttle had 15 launches planned over the following year of operations). These SHLV’s would probably have reusable pressure fed boosters (originally proposed for the shuttle) and would also most likely fly the main engine module around the Moon on a free return back to Earth reentry and also be recovered at sea.

If a lava tube site was found and after about a ten year development period this proposed SHLV could fly around ten missions a year for the next ten years at the end of these two decades a factory capable of producing pulse propulsion discs several hundred feet in diameter might be ready to start up. The first of a fleet of lunar production spaceships is a possibility by the year 2040. Perhaps even before my eightieth birthday. By 2040 there should be a dozen or so crewed wheels in GEO providing telecom services. The questions that arise concerning this move into space are what kind of ship can serve as an interim to move the nuclear arsenal into deep space in the decades before lunar production begins? There is also the ultimate goal of Space Solar Power satellites and Bernal Spheres which will be the focus of the second half of the 21st century.

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News Items


Bernal Spheres are on the way.


Yes, some have known this since the ice on the Moon was discovered.


The most interesting item I have seen in many, many years. Most people cannot wrap their heads around it.

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Closed Minds


“No,” he said. “The possibility of being able to send people, particularly a large number of people, to settle another planet orbiting another star seems extremely small.”

I never cease to be amazed me at the lack of imagination among scientists and engineers. Of course this is matched by the bizarro flights of fancy of the artistic types at the other pole. In the middle are those few who have a knack for matching the elements that work.

If we can freeze people we effectively slow time down in much the same manner as time dilation does close to the speed of light. The most powerful device ever created by humankind, the H-bomb, gives us the ability to push a spaceship to a small percentage of the speed of light. Actually, it is more likely the bombs would slow down a spaceship arriving at another star after a centuries long voyage. A space solar power infrastructure powering a beam propulsion system would accelerate the starship on it’s way.

As I have stated for several years, freezing people has ramifications far beyond simply being able to travel to other stars. It would be the most disruptive and fantastic event in the history of the human race. Nobody would allow their loved ones to die when they could be saved and later cured- freezing would be a basic human right. Everything would change.

Yet we do nothing. We may be too stupid to survive. That is why it is so quiet out there.

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One Revolution Per Minute


“In 1966 Gemini 11 did a tether-generated artificial gravity experiment. A several thousand foot long tether system with equal masses on either end generating one gravity is the solution that people have been doing calculations for since the 1930’s (it was not known if humans would remain conscious without gravity so the tether was a solution to this possibility even then). No extensive testing is needed. We just need to build it and use it as it is pretty straightforward.

The ice on the Moon is the source for shielding. 15 feet and several hundreds tons of water for a small capsule. Well over a thousand tons for the very minimal crew space needed on a long duration mission. This is also pretty straightforward as well as how to push such a shield around the solar system- there is only one practical system. All the work to conclusively prove this concept was done in the 60’s and includes over 1000 live tests of the required devices.

  • And as for “living off the land” on Mars, what started the space colonization movement of the 70’s was the singular conclusion that one gravity was a prerequisite to any permanent colony. The less gravity the easier it is to build centrifugal “sleep train” facilities for small crews on small icy moons but for large populations miles in diameter artificial spinning hollow moons constructed of lunar material has always been, and will remain, the best plan.

    It goes without saying (but I will say it anyway) that such a public works mega-project is the anti-thesis of the NewSpace scam (retire on Mars!) presently being endlessly hyped to the public.”

    I responded to someone who had posted some interesting artificial gravity numbers on a forum. Unfortunately I cannot post those figures here because the moderator of that site has repeatedly banned me and warned me about using any material posted on his blog- or rather, news site, since he does not like it to be called a blog.

    To generate one gravity on the inner surface of a sphere about 6000 feet in diameter the sphere would spin a little over 200 miles per hour and complete one revolution in a minute or so. A person living in such a sphere would take about an hour to walk the circumference and arrive back at the starting point.

    It is a good example to explain what a Bernal Sphere would be like.

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Responding to the Naysayers

  • Unfortunately Dr. Spudis closed his discussion board down before I could respond to these replies and comments. So I am going to respond in italics here:
  • “A reusable Extraterrestrial landing vehicle could operate between the Earth-Moon Lagrange points and LEO and between the Lagrange points and the lunar surface using propellant derived from lunar water. A super heavy lift vehicle is great for deploying heavy cargo within cis-lunar space but its an inefficient crew launch vehicle since it throws away all of its components– every launch. This makes it necessary for the lander to dive 20,000 miles from GEO into LEO to pick up human beings and then boost out of LEO- presumably with propellants taken on at a fuel depot. What a mess. The Super Heavy Lift has to “throw away it’s components” but it can reuse them. And all the humans are on Earth right now so…..

    Chemical rockets operating between the Earth-Moon Lagrange points and high Mars orbit would be much more efficient than nuclear rockets operating between LEO and high Mars orbit– because of the substantially lower delta-v requirements when launch vehicles from the Lagrange points. Plus the delta-v requirements to supply water and propellant for interplanetary vehicles launched from the Lagrange points is substantially lower than trying to supply fuel and water from the Earth’s deep gravity well. Nuclear rockets would never be allowed to operate in the magnetosphere, let alone in LEO or GEO.

    IVF technology being developed by the ULA will enable us to utilize hydrogen and oxygen very efficiently. That piston engine is no miracle solution and while it might work well maintaining oxygen for an extended mission, hydrogen is a whole different set of problems.

    Commercial crew vehicles will been in operation long before the SLS is launching humans into space. Perhaps, but it is meaningless since they are not going anywhere except LEO and that is nowhere.


  • oldAtlas_Eguy says:

    The economics of propellant depots. Depots do not care where the propellant comes from. But even with the cheapest envisioned LV possibly to exist in the next 20 years the BFR/MCT cost of propellant at L2 would be $1,600/kg. BTW the cost of the reusable booster version of the FH for prop delivered to L2 would be greater than $3,200/kg. Now if a Lunar infrastructure for delivery of propellant to L2 to was put in at ~$60-80B development and initial setup with an annual operating cost of $10B that can deliver 17,500mt of prop to L2 a year over the lifetime of all the elements of the system, it can deliver to L2 propellant for $800/kg.

    Conclusion is that it will be more than 20 years and probably even a decade after that that a system that can deliver prop to L2 from Earth to do so at the same cost as a Lunar system. But when evaluating LEO that is not the same story. The cost of delivery of prop from Earth by the FHR would be $1,600/kg equal to the same as it would cost to deliver prop from the Moon. The two systems would be direct competitors fro LEO prop sales and it would be available volume that would determine who the front runner supplier would be. BTW the max amount of prop that the before mentioned Lunar system could deliver per year to LEO would be 8,750mt. But that is also equivalent to over 200 FHR flights in one year. A flight rate not likely to be achievable in the next 10 or 15 years but such a delivery amount from Lunar prop could reach such levels in 15 years without much transfer tug hardware.” This kind of confabulation has been used by NewSpace fans for years to fill up the page and is devoid of any real facts.

    gbaikie says:

    “We sent animals into orbit, because we were uncertain that humans could live for relatively short periods in orbit.
    We currently know that humans can live in orbit for more than a year, but we also know that the human body adapts to micro-gravity and this has various health consequences which begin immediately once in micro-gravity and over months of time, it worsen and have longer effects.
    We can assume that in low gravity- the Moon or Mars, the human body will also adapt to this low gravity and have similar
    effects as occurs in micro-gravity but we can also assume that differences between micro-gravity and say 1/3 of earth’s gravity are also quite different.
    For instance fire is quite different in micro-gravity, whereas fire on Mars would behave fairly similar to how it behaves on Earth.
    Or a toilet in micro-gravity has to be different than a toilet in micro-gravity, whereas a toilet on Mars could very similar to a toilet used on Earth. And living areas of enclosed environment like a submarine on Earth are similar to living areas on Mars- this is not the case when in micro-gravity.

    A reason for exploration is to discover these types of differences, people once thought humans could not go faster than about 20 mph, and now human can travel at hundreds of mph, but there consequence of traveling at over 20 mph- ie, a collision at over 20 mph can be lethal. And we could not possible know about all the consequences of going over 20 mph, without actually going at speeds faster than 20 mph and learn ways of dealing with traveling at these higher speeds.

    I would say making a top down type decision of assuming human can only survive in a 1 gee environment, is a policy decision which is criminal or at least, stupid. You would say that but Gerard K. O’Neill said basically the opposite and I will go with him, thanks.
    One could decide that you don’t want to go more than 20 mph or that you don’t want to live in environment greater or less than 1 gee, but such personal choices are quite different a public policy type decisions.-particularly when it’s not based upon any information. Oh, but it is based on information- decades of space station debilitation.

    One aspect is the need to explore Space, another aspect of this, is lower the cost to get into space. No….there is no cheap.
    In my opinion NASA needs to explore space in such manner that it’s related to how one can lower the costs to get into space. So in terms of priority of exploration, NASA’s top priority should exploration that could lead to lower the costs of going into space.
    If there was commercial lunar water mining this would lower the costs of getting into space. NASA mining lunar water wouldn’t lower the cost of getting into space. So NASA should explore the Moon to determine if and where there could be minable water on the Moon. That NASA has failed to do this over the last 10 years or so, is failure of the agency, whereas not sending crew to Mars, has not been a failure of the agency- rather than desire of doing this first, is the policy failure. That NASA is proposing a useless mission to Mars is the failure.

    And that it took until 1998 to determine that there could water in the Moon, is another failure of this agency over the many decades, it’s existed. No argument there.

    And that NASA do not have system that can refuel rockets in LEO, is another long term failure of the agency and general NASA focus upon having a earth launch owned and operated by the agency as been a failed policy over the decades- it’s the wrong focus of the limited resources NASA is provided to explore Space.” Mars and fuel depots are both completely wrong goals. The need to “refuel rockets in LEO” is a farce invented by the NewSpace mob to justify building hobby rockets.

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