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Questions about "The High Frontier"



 
 
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  #1  
Old October 1st 07, 06:45 PM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Damien Valentine
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Posts: 273
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"

So I just got through O'Neill's "The High Frontier". There seem to be
some philosophical inconsistencies -- O'Neill claims to be promoting
individual freedoms and small-scale economies by building monolithic
power satellites and kilometer-scale orbiting cities, for instance --
but that's neither here nor there.

What really bothers me is that the entire scheme seems too much like
something out of a Rube Goldberg cartoon. "We'll build a base on the
Moon to deliver material to Earth orbit -- and we'll need at least
some mining ships scouting the asteroids for water and organics too --
which will be used to build a 3-million ton, 10,000-man space station
the size of Manhattan; then that will build 80,000-ton satellites, and
those will transmit solar power back to Earth." (He offers other
justifications for his "Islands" -- building space telescopes, for
example -- but it seems that we've achieved most of those goals
already without them.)

I suppose I want to start off by asking, "Would a Solar Power
Satellite work in the first place?" I know that the idea has gotten a
lot of flak recently; is it still viable or just hopeless?

Ads
  #2  
Old October 1st 07, 07:18 PM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Rand Simberg[_1_]
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Posts: 8,311
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"

On Mon, 01 Oct 2007 17:45:19 -0000, in a place far, far away, Damien
Valentine made the phosphor on my monitor glow in
such a way as to indicate that:

I suppose I want to start off by asking, "Would a Solar Power
Satellite work in the first place?" I know that the idea has gotten a
lot of flak recently; is it still viable or just hopeless?


It's certainly technically viable. The issue is whether or not it is
economically viable, relative to the competition.
  #3  
Old October 1st 07, 10:10 PM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Pat Flannery
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Posts: 18,466
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"



Damien Valentine wrote:
So I just got through O'Neill's "The High Frontier". There seem to be
some philosophical inconsistencies -- O'Neill claims to be promoting
individual freedoms and small-scale economies by building monolithic
power satellites and kilometer-scale orbiting cities, for instance --
but that's neither here nor there.


I've the original book; as I remember it, it wasn't so much a political,
economic, or social system he was promoting as much as the technology of
using space colonies for large scale manufacturing due to the advantages
of large amounts of free solar power, while at the same time preserving
Earth's ecosystem by moving large-scale industries off planet to cut
down on pollution.
It was only after the book that every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a
political or economic axe to grind began looking at space colonies as
some sort of do-it-yourself Utopias where the innate superiority of
their political or economic system would no doubt be shown to all.
Once the likes of Timothy Leary got involved in the space colonization
hypothesis, the thing was screwed... they promptly turned into something
like a religion or revolutionary political movement.
What really bothers me is that the entire scheme seems too much like
something out of a Rube Goldberg cartoon. "We'll build a base on the
Moon to deliver material to Earth orbit -- and we'll need at least
some mining ships scouting the asteroids for water and organics too --
which will be used to build a 3-million ton, 10,000-man space station
the size of Manhattan; then that will build 80,000-ton satellites, and
those will transmit solar power back to Earth." (He offers other
justifications for his "Islands" -- building space telescopes, for
example -- but it seems that we've achieved most of those goals
already without them.)


Yeah..."if you build it, they will come." That was the same rational
used for SST's, commercial flights on the space Shuttle, and in the
1800's for Brunel's Great Eastern steamship.
Today, you can see an echo of it in the Space Tourism industry.

I suppose I want to start off by asking, "Would a Solar Power
Satellite work in the first place?" I know that the idea has gotten a
lot of flak recently; is it still viable or just hopeless?


You can do it; but it is going to be anything but cheap to do.

Pat
  #4  
Old October 2nd 07, 07:44 AM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Troy
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Posts: 27
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"

On Oct 2, 2:45 am, Damien Valentine wrote:
So I just got through O'Neill's "The High Frontier". There seem to be
some philosophical inconsistencies -- O'Neill claims to be promoting
individual freedoms and small-scale economies by building monolithic
power satellites and kilometer-scale orbiting cities, for instance --
but that's neither here nor there.

What really bothers me is that the entire scheme seems too much like
something out of a Rube Goldberg cartoon. "We'll build a base on the
Moon to deliver material to Earth orbit -- and we'll need at least
some mining ships scouting the asteroids for water and organics too --
which will be used to build a 3-million ton, 10,000-man space station
the size of Manhattan; then that will build 80,000-ton satellites, and
those will transmit solar power back to Earth." (He offers other
justifications for his "Islands" -- building space telescopes, for
example -- but it seems that we've achieved most of those goals
already without them.)

I suppose I want to start off by asking, "Would a Solar Power
Satellite work in the first place?" I know that the idea has gotten a
lot of flak recently; is it still viable or just hopeless?


The only way you could start off in space is to start off small. Like
Bigelow Aerospace's Sundancer module; yet it's also suffering from
that "if you build it, they will come." However, the desire for space
stations is there, and with smaller space programs like India and
China wanting their own in the next few decades, certainly the desire
for that inflatable technology will be there. O'Neill proposed that
the "small" gap would be filled by shuttles, funded by the government
and quickly scaling up to massive projects. I suspect he also figured
in economics of scale effects, as well. Only massive government
funding would be able to kickstart such a project.

Yet, his reasoning is sound - big projects do happen. However, if they
are not commercially viable (and there's no way that SPSs would be for
many many decades), they'd better be religiously significant,
militarily important or just the work of a cray rich megalomaniac.
Without that, launch costs had better be about $200 a kilo or less for
lunar/asteroid mining to become viable for supplying materials - just
to earth orbit. Building O'Neill colonies from refined lunar dirt...
unlikely. Real colonies would be built more simply (eg hollow
asteroid), be smaller, and less ambitious. From there it would be a
gradual scaling upwards. I see the first colonies as being in low
earth orbit as some kind of space hotel / servicing centre hybrid.

  #5  
Old October 2nd 07, 02:23 PM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
BradGuth
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Posts: 21,544
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"

On Oct 1, 10:45 am, Damien Valentine wrote:

I suppose I want to start off by asking, "Would a Solar Power
Satellite work in the first place?" I know that the idea has gotten a
lot of flak recently; is it still viable or just hopeless?


Obviously you haven't had words with William Mook, the leading wizard
on such things.

I'll also provide the necessary tethered platform, along with all the
clean energy for driving those nifty SBLs as energy cannons, all
situated at the end of my tether dipole element that's associated with
my LSE-CM/ISS. I was planning on hosting a dozen 100 GW class of such
laser cannons, thus 1.2 TW of which roughly half of that energy gets
onto our terrestrial grids.

Of course there are other uses for such SBLs.
- Brad Guth -

  #6  
Old October 2nd 07, 02:44 PM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
BradGuth
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Posts: 21,544
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"

On Oct 1, 11:44 pm, Troy wrote:
On Oct 2, 2:45 am, Damien Valentine wrote:

I suppose I want to start off by asking, "Would a Solar Power
Satellite work in the first place?" I know that the idea has gotten a
lot of flak recently; is it still viable or just hopeless?


The only way you could start off in space is to start off small. Like
Bigelow Aerospace's Sundancer module; yet it's also suffering from
that "if you build it, they will come." However, the desire for space
stations is there, and with smaller space programs like India and
China wanting their own in the next few decades, certainly the desire
for that inflatable technology will be there. O'Neill proposed that
the "small" gap would be filled by shuttles, funded by the government
and quickly scaling up to massive projects. I suspect he also figured
in economics of scale effects, as well. Only massive government
funding would be able to kickstart such a project.


That's why a cool POOF City worth of those "Bigelow Aerospace's
Sundancer modules" would more than do the trick as situated at Venus
L2.


Yet, his reasoning is sound - big projects do happen. However, if they
are not commercially viable (and there's no way that SPSs would be for
many many decades), they'd better be religiously significant,
militarily important or just the work of a cray rich megalomaniac.
Without that, launch costs had better be about $200 a kilo or less for
lunar/asteroid mining to become viable for supplying materials - just
to earth orbit. Building O'Neill colonies from refined lunar dirt...
unlikely. Real colonies would be built more simply (eg hollow
asteroid), be smaller, and less ambitious. From there it would be a
gradual scaling upwards. I see the first colonies as being in low
earth orbit as some kind of space hotel / servicing centre hybrid.


VL2 POOF City is offering much better than all of those, and it's even
more so viable as our first interplanetary geteway, especially since
our moon's L1 is still so taboo/nondisclosure rated and being rather
gamma and X-ray naked to the raw exposure of our anticathode moon,
plus otherwise our moon's L1 being unavoidably hot as hell (requiring
an artificial solar shade, whereas even the secondary/recoil worth of
IR from the moon itself is substantial)
- Brad Guth -

  #7  
Old October 2nd 07, 03:29 PM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
John Schilling
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Posts: 391
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"

On Mon, 01 Oct 2007 17:45:19 -0000, Damien Valentine
wrote:

So I just got through O'Neill's "The High Frontier". There seem to be
some philosophical inconsistencies -- O'Neill claims to be promoting
individual freedoms and small-scale economies by building monolithic
power satellites and kilometer-scale orbiting cities, for instance --
but that's neither here nor there.


What really bothers me is that the entire scheme seems too much like
something out of a Rube Goldberg cartoon. "We'll build a base on the
Moon to deliver material to Earth orbit -- and we'll need at least
some mining ships scouting the asteroids for water and organics too --
which will be used to build a 3-million ton, 10,000-man space station
the size of Manhattan; then that will build 80,000-ton satellites, and
those will transmit solar power back to Earth." (He offers other
justifications for his "Islands" -- building space telescopes, for
example -- but it seems that we've achieved most of those goals
already without them.)


I suppose I want to start off by asking, "Would a Solar Power
Satellite work in the first place?" I know that the idea has gotten
a lot of flak recently; is it still viable or just hopeless?



That's almost entirely a question of scale. Solar Power Satellites
can be built and will work as advertised, it's just that if you read
the fine print in the advertisements, the things only work well at
power levels of several gigawatts or so. Anything less, and you run
into problems with the relative size of the antennas for power beaming
from desirable orbits. Or, alternately, the seriously inconvenient
duty cycle and load sharing problems associated with the crappy orbits
you're limited to with small antennas.

Multiple-gigawatt power satellites are huge enough that we'd need a
whole lot of new infrastructure to even start building them, and new
productive infrastructure is rarely worthwhile unless you're going to
produce at least a dozen or two of the whachamacallits in question.


So, given someone who says, "I've got half a trillion dollars here,
I desperately want/need a hundred gigawatts of electric power, and
I can't find a cheaper terrestrial solution", yes, something like
O'Neill's architecture follows pretty naturally. And it's probably
even profitable in competition with terrestrial power generation.

But if all you've got is half a billion dollars and you just want
to prove the concept and/or get yourself a hundred megawatts of
juice, it doesn't work.


Oh, and multiply that half-trillion dollars by a factor of ten or
so, ruling out any hope of profitability, if you put a government
agency in charge of the program.


Mind you, some of the same problems apply to nuclear power, and we
do have that. But much of the necessary infrastructure there is
common to existing coal-fired powerplants, and much of the rest is
shared with the nuclear-weapons people. And governments have a
well-established track record of pumping huge ammounts of money
into unprofitable weapons programs.


--
*John Schilling * "Anything worth doing, *
*Member:AIAA,NRA,ACLU,SAS,LP * is worth doing for money" *
*Chief Scientist & General Partner * -13th Rule of Acquisition *
*White Elephant Research, LLC * "There is no substitute *
* for success" *
*661-718-0955 or 661-275-6795 * -58th Rule of Acquisition *
  #8  
Old October 2nd 07, 06:13 PM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Hop David
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Posts: 656
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"

Damien Valentine wrote:
So I just got through O'Neill's "The High Frontier". There seem to be
some philosophical inconsistencies -- O'Neill claims to be promoting
individual freedoms and small-scale economies by building monolithic
power satellites and kilometer-scale orbiting cities, for instance --
but that's neither here nor there.

What really bothers me is that the entire scheme seems too much like
something out of a Rube Goldberg cartoon. "We'll build a base on the
Moon to deliver material to Earth orbit -- and we'll need at least
some mining ships scouting the asteroids for water and organics too --
which will be used to build a 3-million ton, 10,000-man space station
the size of Manhattan; then that will build 80,000-ton satellites, and
those will transmit solar power back to Earth." (He offers other
justifications for his "Islands" -- building space telescopes, for
example -- but it seems that we've achieved most of those goals
already without them.)

I suppose I want to start off by asking, "Would a Solar Power
Satellite work in the first place?" I know that the idea has gotten a
lot of flak recently; is it still viable or just hopeless?


Not sure what you mean by "flak". I've read valid criticism of the idea
and have also seen misinformed criticism.

There was this recent article:
http://www.space.com/businesstechnol..._airforce.html

I believe they'd be a good long term investment. In the short term other
energy sources are more economical.

Hop

  #9  
Old October 2nd 07, 06:43 PM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Mike Combs[_1_]
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Posts: 401
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"

"Damien Valentine" wrote in message
ups.com...

So I just got through O'Neill's "The High Frontier". There seem to be
some philosophical inconsistencies -- O'Neill claims to be promoting
individual freedoms and small-scale economies by building monolithic
power satellites


I think John Schilling did a good job of explaining why SPS need to be big.

and kilometer-scale orbiting cities, for instance --
but that's neither here nor there.


You might be thinking of Island 3, but remember that even when talking about
Earthlike space habitats, the first-generation ones would only have
populations of 10,000. That's small as many cities go.

which will be used to build a 3-million ton, 10,000-man space station
the size of Manhattan; then that will build 80,000-ton satellites, and
those will transmit solar power back to Earth."


It might interest you to know that after The High Frontier was published,
O'Neill turned out other studies where small, simple "space manufacturing
facilities" and construction of SPS came first. Lush, Earthlike habitats
came much later in the program, and then only with the understanding that
once you had mining facilities on the moon and/or asteroids and
manufacturing facilities to construct SPS in space, most of what you needed
to build large habitats is pretty much already in place and amortized.

I suppose I want to start off by asking, "Would a Solar Power
Satellite work in the first place?" I know that the idea has gotten a
lot of flak recently; is it still viable or just hopeless?


Interestingly, the military seems to have revived interest in this concept.
http://www.space.com/businesstechnol..._airforce.html


--


Regards,
Mike Combs
http://members.aol.com/oscarcombs/settle.htm
----------------------------------------------------------------------
By all that you hold dear on this good Earth
I bid you stand, Men of the West!
Aragorn


  #10  
Old October 2nd 07, 06:48 PM posted to rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.history
Damien Valentine
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 273
Default Questions about "The High Frontier"

On Oct 1, 2:10 pm, Pat Flannery wrote:
Damien Valentine wrote:
So I just got through O'Neill's "The High Frontier". There seem to be
some philosophical inconsistencies -- O'Neill claims to be promoting
individual freedoms and small-scale economies by building monolithic
power satellites and kilometer-scale orbiting cities, for instance --
but that's neither here nor there.


I've the original book; as I remember it, it wasn't so much a political,
economic, or social system he was promoting as much as the technology of using space colonies for large scale manufacturing...


No, sir; the copy I just read, at any rate, specifically promotes
colonies as bastions of individualism and freedom (although he
specifically avoids describing details of colonial government), and
also as a reservoir for Earth's population growth (which would at this
point have to be 200,000 people shipped out to L5 _every day_).

 




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