Thursday, May 21, 2015

Space exploration priorities

The following post was prompted by article linked below.

The desire to put humans on Mars is certainly understandable. It is both an exciting, and audacious, challenge to human ingenuity, as well as will. It was explorers, after all, that got us going to the new world way back when.

We need space development, however, for more than just the advancement of our understanding of the universe. We need it as well for the practical, not to mention critical, realities we face dirt side presently.

In a perfect reality we would pursue both the practical and the purely exploratory, but perfect it is not. Prioritization is going to be a requirement, unfortunately, and for my own part, the more pressing priority is the practical.

And in this context I mean both the orbital insertion and transfer infrastructure, as well as the formulation of a solid production foundation off planet. This means industrial scale throughput capability in all aspects of those three categories.

This will require more than just rockets for the first aspect, more than just chemical, reactive thrust engines trans orbital, and more than factories in near earth orbit. Ultimately, in my mind, beyond the space elevators, or sea based, mass accelerators, to take the first step; beyond the ion, or negative energy drives for the second; we are going to need very large, automated production facilities on the moon.

The arguments for that last step are, of course, fairly well known (as in raw materials readily at hand, and a much lower gravity well). We need to re-emphasize this last step, however, because it will be the singular pivot point from which we can establish a vast expansion of options; whether that means the material basis for having a realistic hope of saving humanity's ass, or for a whole new range of exploratory capability, or both, doesn't really matter. The bottom line here is that more options down the road ought to be our primary concern now.


Impatience for Mars

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