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Private sectors role in colonisation

Posted by: Rob Goldsmith - Thu Jan 27, 2005 1:12 pm
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Private sectors role in colonisation 
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Post    Posted on: Mon Jan 31, 2005 1:02 pm
Perhaps Elon Musk himslef will create the market randomly. The article "Mogul eyes Space Coast for rocket’s maiden mission" ( www.xprizenews.org/index.php?p=740 ) says that he was thinking about a Mars rover costing not more than 20 million $ before he realized the amount of launch costs. He himself is reducing these launch costs currently and may return to that rover project then.

But then he could provide rovers and other equipment for the moon and these equipment may be fit for use in lunar mining and lunar industries as well as in industries in orbit.

This can only occur in the future - but perhaps he will develop his rover in ten years. The Falcon V can launch it to the Mars easyly.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Jan 31, 2005 1:48 pm
I think SpaceX will have its hands full with getting the current and future versions of their Falcon rocket flying, add to this creating a manned craft to compete in the ASP then its a bit much to expect them to develop Mars or moon rovers as well.

Why not use the industries best suited to a task? Use mining companies to produce drilling rovers, power companies for power generation, water companies to produce water purification/extraction plant and so on. By continuously using the same aerospace firms and keeping involvement limited to a few companies it restricts growth and diversity.

Colonisation will require experts from a wide variety of companies to solve the problems.

SpaceX should continue to develop its launchers so that it can consolidate its position before diversifying into other areas. Even Elon Musk's wealth is not inexhaustable he has to get SpaceX making a profit before he can move on to the next project.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Jan 31, 2005 3:00 pm
I didn't mean that he might develop the rover WITHIN the next ten years - I meant he might BEGIN in ten years. He might not have removed his idea but handle it like Burt Rutan is handling his ideas.

The current mining companies will consider lunar and asteroid mining consider to be too large a risk and too expensive without providing sufficient profits I fear. They will mine the moon etc. only if previous someone else has proven that it can be done at ess costs than they think and that it's possible. Musks philantropic sense might cause him to be this "someone else" in the future perhaps. He is young, 33 years old - so still much time is left to him. And his Falcon V can give escape velocity.

Perhaps SpaceX will be growing during the next ten years - then they can diversify. If so why not diversify to rovers too? Newcomers often are forced to diversify after their initial success. Several months ago I mentioned a marketing consultant who has written a book about this - you will find the title in a thread about low interest in private space travels in "The Spaceflight Cafe". According to this consultant it is required for high tech firms to satisfy all their fans - enthusiasts, visioneers etc. - after the first success of their new product - their succes will go lost else. And after satisfying all these fans it will be required to diversify into several small markets. After diversifying the product has to be evolved to one complete product satisfying all the small markets together. Previous to that there will be no stable success.

SpaceX will be forced to diversify one day - why not diversify into rovers if their experiences etc. allow for that? NASA has had several rovers during the last decades - Pathfinder (Sojourner?), Spirit, Opportinity, lunar manned rovers. They are researching on a lunar rover now that shall create and install solar cells and scientists are imagining a rover for Titan currently. Rovers could be a business perhaps.

And Elon Musk might know how to keep them cheap, he might have the Know How for this, the experiences and the tools. Most important - he has the cheapest technology to launch them. Rovers might be a source of assistance for his actual business in ten years.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Jan 31, 2005 4:42 pm
Dependant on what the various orbiters find on the moon, it might be possible for rights to be sold to companies to develop its resources through a world organisation. These could be time limited and require the company to actively persue them so preventing large companies sitting on a franchise to stop others exploiting it.

For example NASA, or somebody else for that matter, could part fund development of a drilling rover by a mining company for use on the moon. Such technology would be useful on Earth for working in remote areas like the Russian Steppes or Antartica or even on the sea bed. A mining company would be attracted to this sort of deal because it would have possible spin offs that it could utilise on Earth whereas someone like Boeing would make the rover for NASA, pocket the money, and not use its technology anywhere else except on the Moon or Mars.

IMO if Elon Musk waits 10 years before he starts to develop rovers he will be playing catch up. In 10 years SpaceX might have diversified into manned launch vehicles which would fit better within the company and probably have bigger returns as there would be a larger volume needed. That is why it is better for a different company to start working on one now.

It seems like Lockheed has now found its gang members:

http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/050131/nym063_1.html

One last thought, if the NASA competition results in a fly off between 2 CEVs what happens to the loser? Would NASA really bin a fully functional manned spacecraft and put all their eggs in one basket again or might they allow it to be developed for private flights which would give them a fall back should their winner have problems later on in the programme?

Here's an article about the ISS advocating the use of a much less complicated craft to act as a ferry for it, perhaps an opening for any loser?

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/313/1

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Post    Posted on: Mon Jan 31, 2005 11:49 pm
Okay: here's the problems.

1) Mining: easy to drop materials from the Moon back to Earth. However, setting up camp there to begin with is extremely expensive.

2) Power Generation: No-go at all. American industry is based off of oil production. You ain't gonna get anybody to touch it, except maybe for a PR stunt ("we're helping to save the world by getting pollution-free power") -- in which case it doesn't help us a bit (one launch doesn't lower average launch costs).

3) Astronomy: great idea, but the astronomers work for universities. Whose administrators like to keep costs as low as humanly possible. The most viable of the three, but again, it's basically a one-shot deal. Nobody's gonna support building *another* telescope in space ("I don't care if it detects sound waves, much less that infer-red and grammer-ray stuff. You already got one that sees just fine, and you ain't gettin' no more!").

So what are you left with? Land. Lots and lots and lots of land. The Space E&D people want people there because it'll lower launch costs and therefore lower the exploration and development costs. Nobody else gives a rotten rat's rear end. And we also know that Lunar dirt is pretty good for growing plants in (or at least I seem to remember NASA finding that out a while ago......). Hrm.... Cheap shipping-back-to-Earth costs........ Thousands of square miles of rich, empty soil......... All we gotta do is get 'em there and build 'em a dome.

So anyways, I'm advocating the land-rush approach that the US railroad companies used back in the 19th Century: we got this spiffy railway to go from coast to coast, but nobody wants to ride it. Hey! Farmers would want to sell their produce to back East, and want to buy goods from the East as well.... Hrm, they provide two-way traffic............

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Post    Posted on: Tue Feb 01, 2005 10:14 am
SpaceX already is going to diversify - they are starting to launch to orbit unmanned and too they will compete for the ASP which menas to launch to orbit manned. There already is a third direction of diversification - the unammned launch of a mannable payload that will orbit Earth. That's the third-scale version of Nautilus called Genesis.

This is the current base and I hope to see them succed.

A diversification into rovers (too) I mentioned only because this could get them customers or a whole market if they would miss customers after the initial success of four scheduled payload launches until the second qurter of 2006. If they have a lack of customers after the launch of Genesis or after 2015 they could decide to creat cheap reusable rovers I have in mind the Mars probe of AMSAT this moment. AMSAT only provides the probe - the scientific instruments will come from universities etc. So SpaceX could provide the whells, the chassy and the motor of the rovers and offer these rovers for use by scientists and explorers. These people would provide instruments to be mounted on the chassy then. Reusability in the first step could mean the ability of the rovers to unmounted the instruments themselves and to mount new instruments later themselves automatically. The new instruments could be sent to the planet the usual way. Then exploration and reserach would become cheaper and SpaceX could get business easier.

This could be of use for land business too.

Rovers to pull launch orders only. If no launch orders could be pulled by rovers SpaceX shouldn't create rovers. Rovers as complementary product only - a way similar to Microsofts way a little bit.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Feb 01, 2005 11:20 am
spacecowboy wrote:
1) Mining: easy to drop materials from the Moon back to Earth. However, setting up camp there to begin with is extremely expensive.


No one said it would be cheap to begin with but hopefully it would get cheaper over time. Also like I said it depends what the orbiters find as to whether it is feasible. I've seen Helium 3 mentioned a bit in the press, possibly this could be mined but I understand you have to process quite a few tons of regolith to get 1kg of Helium 3.

spacecowboy wrote:
2) Power Generation: No-go at all. American industry is based off of oil production. You ain't gonna get anybody to touch it, except maybe for a PR stunt ("we're helping to save the world by getting pollution-free power") -- in which case it doesn't help us a bit (one launch doesn't lower average launch costs).


Other countries have power industries, there is life beyond the borders of the US :) Besides if a colony was established on the moon it would be better to have a power plant and distribution system rather than everyone having their own.

spacecowboy wrote:
3) Astronomy: great idea, but the astronomers work for universities. Whose administrators like to keep costs as low as humanly possible. The most viable of the three, but again, it's basically a one-shot deal. Nobody's gonna support building *another* telescope in space ("I don't care if it detects sound waves, much less that infer-red and grammer-ray stuff. You already got one that sees just fine, and you ain't gettin' no more!").


But the incremental approach would give increasingly more sensitive telescopes so it would be worth more than a single launch to get better and better array. Isnt that what astronomers want more sensitivity (I must admit ignorance here, not being an astronomer)? You would have a system that could keep being expanded.

spacecowboy wrote:
So what are you left with? Land. Lots and lots and lots of land. The Space E&D people want people there because it'll lower launch costs and therefore lower the exploration and development costs. Nobody else gives a rotten rat's rear end. And we also know that Lunar dirt is pretty good for growing plants in (or at least I seem to remember NASA finding that out a while ago......). Hrm.... Cheap shipping-back-to-Earth costs........ Thousands of square miles of rich, empty soil......... All we gotta do is get 'em there and build 'em a dome

So anyways, I'm advocating the land-rush approach that the US railroad companies used back in the 19th Century: we got this spiffy railway to go from coast to coast, but nobody wants to ride it. Hey! Farmers would want to sell their produce to back East, and want to buy goods from the East as well.... Hrm, they provide two-way traffic............


Just because there is a big area of land there does not mean that people will go. There must be something for them to do or get from living on the moon that they cant on Earth.

How about getting someone like Ford or GM to build a lunar buggy? These companies spend millions on concept cars and formular 1 racing why not get them to race on the moon, its probably worth the money in publicity alone. The tv coverage of vehicles tearing across the lunar surface with big company logos on the side would be excellent. You could hold a lunar Grand Prix and race them around a big crater

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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 03, 2005 8:24 am
Your mentioning of GM and Ford reminds me to something I forgot to say. It isn't required that SpaceX build rovers themselves - it is sufficient to design them and then to give production orders to other companies.

This way SpaceX would be the developer and the seller - and they would be the owner of design and concept. Virtual Enterprise!



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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 03, 2005 8:38 am
Style it on ocean racing like the America's Cup or the Volvo Round the World Race. Nationalism + Company Prestige raises huge amounts of cash.

100-200 million per yacht every four years... And that gets a lot of entries.

You just need the transport, the infrastructure and the COVERAGE.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 03, 2005 10:23 am
There is another aspect which SpaceX and Elon Musk could get or create ar market by.

The Falcon 1 at least can be launched from each place the customer wants it to be launched. The launche equipment and pad is moveable throughout the US and the whole world as I understand their informations.

Based at this it might be interesting to provide this ability to launch from any site wanted at the moon too. Mask/SpaceX could construct a huge rover which would be a launch pad and equipment and they could make it roll fast over the moons surface to any place their rocket is wanted to be launched from. And this could be done for other planets too.

A very extreme and raw concept at this moment - but this way a Mars-, lunar or general planetary rover simply would be an extension of their capabilities and supply to other planets. After a launch the empty rover could be ordered to roll automatically to the next place where a falcon can be mounted onto the equipment and then to roll to the next scheduled launch site.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 07, 2005 12:40 am
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
Perhaps Elon Musk himslef will create the market randomly. The article "Mogul eyes Space Coast for rocket’s maiden mission" ( www.xprizenews.org/index.php?p=740 ) says that he was thinking about a Mars rover costing not more than 20 million $ before he realized the amount of launch costs. He himself is reducing these launch costs currently and may return to that rover project then.

But then he could provide rovers and other equipment for the moon and these equipment may be fit for use in lunar mining and lunar industries as well as in industries in orbit.

This can only occur in the future - but perhaps he will develop his rover in ten years. The Falcon V can launch it to the Mars easyly.

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I actually think the article might be in error -- I don't believe he was working on a rover, but was rather working on the "Mars Oasis Project," which would put an experimental greenhouse lander on Mars. There's some info on it here:

http://www.spaceref.ca/news/viewsr.html?pid=3698

He also discussed the project in this 2001 radio interview on the Space Show:

http://www.thespaceshow.com/detail.asp?q=16

I believe in the interview he mentions that he paid for a full feasibility study for the project, and it turned out that the actual design and construction could be done for under $20 million. However, the launch costs would be much more, so he decided to focus on reducing those costs with SpaceX for the time being.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 07, 2005 3:31 am
Andy Hill wrote:
Dependant on what the various orbiters find on the moon, it might be possible for rights to be sold to companies to develop its resources through a world organisation. These could be time limited and require the company to actively persue them so preventing large companies sitting on a franchise to stop others exploiting it.


That would indicate that someone already owns the rights to lunar resources. The UN is very much against personal property rights, especially when it comes to space based property. Article 11 of the proposed 1979 'Moon Treaty' made it pretty clear that the UN does not like the idea of private property rights applying to the moon. With only 5 signatures on it as of February 1999 it would be pretty hard for anyone to say even the UN has any say on the validity of private property on the Moon.

Personally in my opinion the only real claim anyone will be able to make in regards to who actually owns lunar resources will be when someone actually goes there and not only stakes such a claim but also works to develop it.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 07, 2005 8:11 am
The last post seems to return to the question of Property Rights on lunar or planetary ressources outside Earth or Property Rights on the whole body of planets.

This should be avoided because there already have been several threads considering such Property Rights. Fact simply is that there is no authority governing those planets and bodies.

So there is no obstacle for noone to send his equipment to the other planets to get their ressources. Especially if NASA or China or Russia begin to build permanent stations there this will mean that the government-free state of those bodies is no obstacle. If earthian government agencies build stations at the moon then there is no basis to forbid it to privates. And there is no chance to prevent any private space travel firm from doing it. It only may cause hot public and political debates on it lasting for years and decades.

This thread shouldn't discuss that.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 07, 2005 9:03 am
@Ekkehard Augustin

No they cant forbid it, but if they wanted to, they would simply make the launch costs and rights & things like that, so high that no-one could pay it.

There will also be a problem in my opionion with patents, like you can read in the long spacex story, its completely ludicrous imo. Sure, i nice invention should be worth something, but all that crap around it will significantly slow the spaceprogress down, probably allready has.

About property rights. Why would any government have any rights about the earth? The only difference is, that we call it home and that we've done some extensive redecoration.

Once the government is settling there, i'm sure they want to 'regulate' the land as they do here, and im sure they want money for it so they can fund their own spaceprogramms. The only real no-go for governments will be spacestations itself. And that will be the ultimate goal for space.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Feb 07, 2005 9:51 am
Concerning the last point - that's prevented by the UN treaty that has been mentioned previously. The treaty is forbidding the settlement of governments od earthian countries at other planets - they are forbidden to extend their territory there. What could happen one day were that settlers form their own independant country and elect a government for it. But for this we will have to wait at least one century I think - and that extraterrestrial country still will be dependant of Earth economically.

Launch costs can be increased by governments via the licence costs for launching. But a licence is a contract which is including the amount of dollars to be paid per period (etc.). As long as the contract is valid the governments cannot increase the costs. And the space travel and space industry firms are aware of all that.

We really shouldn't dicuss that all here - if the discussion really is desired another thread about it should be started and it shouldn't be a thread about Property Rights but a thread about impacts of the government on launch costs except Property Rights themselves.



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