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Archive for the ‘space’ tag

Mar 27, 2015

The Robotic Double-Edged Sword

Posted by in categories: automation, disruptive technology, economics, futurism, governance, robotics/AI, space, space travel, strategy

One of the things that I’ve always liked about Star Trek, is the concept of a galaxy spanning civilization. I would expect that before we ever get to that point, we will have a civilization that spans our solar system. Having a solar system spanning civilization has many advantages. It would give us access to resources many times greater than what is found here on Earth. It also provides the opportunity for civilization to expand, and in a worst case scenario, help ensure the survival of humanity.

Millions of people living in spacious environmentally controlled cities on planetary surfaces and in rotating cylinders in free space, with industry that extends from Mercury to the comets is to me, a grand vision worthy of an ambitious civilization. But trying to make that vision a reality will be difficult. The International Space Station has the capacity to house just six people and cost approximately $100B to put in place. With a little simple division, that works out to about $17B per inhabitant! If we used that admittedly crude figure, it would cost $17 trillion to build a 1,000 person habitat in Earth orbit. Clearly, the approach we used to build the ISS will not work for building a solar system civilization!

The ISS model relies on building everything on Earth, and launching it into space. A different model championed by Dr. Philip Metzger, would develop industrial capacity in space, using resources close to home, such as from the Moon. This has the potential to greatly reduce the cost of building and maintaining systems in space. But how to develop that industrial capacity? Remember we can’t afford to launch and house thousands of workers from Earth. The answer it would seem, is with advanced robotics and advanced manufacturing.

But is even this possible? The good news is that advanced robotics and advanced manufacturing are already being rapidly developed here on Earth. The driver for this development is economics, not space. These new tools will still have to be modified to work in the harsh environment of space, and with resources that are different from what are commonly used here on Earth. While learning to adapt those technologies to the Moon and elsewhere in the solar system is not trivial, it is certainly better that having to develop them from scratch!

Continue reading “The Robotic Double-Edged Sword” »


Mar 9, 2015

100 Year Starship Establishes EU Hub in Brussels to Advance Space, Science and Technology Initiatives with European Partners

Posted by in categories: space, space travel

International Audacious SpaceInitiative Partners with Brussels-Based ISC Intelligence to Support EU’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Goals to Meet Global Challenges on Earth

BRUSSELS/HOUSTON, March 5, 2015100 Year Starship™ (100YSS™), an independent, long-term global initiative working to ensure that the capabilities for human interstellar travel, beyond our solar system to another star, exist within the next 100 years today announced the establishment of its hub in the European Union. The inaugural 100YSS@EUä Hub debuted at the ES:GC2 (European Science: Global Challenges Global Collaboration) Conference held by the Brussels partner ISC Intelligence.

The 100YSS@EU Hub will further the 100YSS mission and facilitate robust transatlantic and international collaboration in research and innovation, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) capacity building, entrepreneurship and education projects between organizations, companies, universities and individuals, as well as support the objectives of the EU’s Horizon 2020. The U.S.-based 100YSS began with a competitive seed-funding grant from DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

Horizon 2020 is the largest EU Research and Innovation programme ever and is aimed at implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative designed to secure Europe’s global competitiveness.

Continue reading “100 Year Starship Establishes EU Hub in Brussels to Advance Space, Science and Technology Initiatives with European Partners” »


Oct 24, 2013

Havens over Hell — Ecosystems of the Venusian Tropopause

Posted by in categories: climatology, engineering, futurism, habitats, space

In our on-going ambitions to colonise space — and our search for exo-planets in goldilocks zones, it is often overlooked that the most Earth-like area known to us is in our own Solar System, and very nearby — the upper reaches of the Venusian troposphere.

Whilst the surface of Venus invokes classical images of Hell — a dark sea of fire and brimstone, where temperatures raise to an incredible 450°C — hot enough to melt lead, tin and zinc, and pressurised to such an extent (92 bar) that in these conditions the atmosphere ghosts in and out of an ocean of supercritical carbon dioxide — sulphur dioxide tints the air, and sulphuric acid rains down on volcanic plains. One just needs to look to the skies…

At about 50 km to 60 km above the surface, the upper reaches of the Venusian troposphere, the environment is quite different. At these high altitudes the temperature is in our comfort zone of 0°C to 50°C, and the air pressure similar as habitable regions of Earth.
Havens over Hell - Ecosystems of the Venetian Tropopause

An atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide (96.5%) and abundant solar radiation, the conditions are ideal for photosynthesis. One could imagine solar energy powered crafts could easily sustain ecosystems where the ideal conditions for photosynthesis ensure an abundant source of food and oxygen for inhabitants. The solar energy here is abundant and in all directions — the high reflectivity of clouds below causes the amount of light reflected upward to be nearly the same as that coming in from above, with an upward solar intensity of 90% — so aircraft would not need to concern about electricity or energy consumption. Indeed, that energy would not even be needed to keep the craft airborne — as the oxygen store would also double up as a natural lifting agent for such aircrafts, as in the Venusian atmosphere of carbon dioxide, oxygen is a lifting gas — in the same way helium is a lifting gas on Earth. With temperature, pressure, gravity, and a constant source of food and oxygen via plant growth all accounted for, not to mention close proximity to Earth, waste & water recycling would be the main challenge for the permanence of such Venusian aircraft — where the initial establishment of a balanced ecosystem is key. The engineering challenge would be far less than that of establishing a colony or base on Mars. Just don’t look down!

May 29, 2013

The Power of the Move Outbound

Posted by in categories: education, engineering, futurism, habitats, philosophy, sustainability

boy_bubble2

There is a real power in the act of physically moving. In so doing, each and every morning I can escape the cacophonous curse of the ubiquitous ESPN in the gym locker room. I toss my bag in my locker and immediately escape to the pure, perfect, custom designed peace of my iPod’s audio world. I also well remember the glorious day I moved away from the hopelessness of my roommate’s awful sub-human, sub-slum stench and into my own private apartment. The universe changed miraculously overnight. I think you can get my drift. The simple act of moving itself can be powerfully transformational. Sometimes, there is not enough bleach and not enough distance between the walls to have the desired effect. Physically moving is quite often the only answer.

As we consider transhumanist societies, such transitional power is certainly the result by many magnitudes. My team has been engaged in developing the first permanent human undersea settlement over the past few decades. In this process we have had the distinct advantage of planning profoundly transhumanist advances specifically because of the advantageous context of relative community isolation. Further we have the benefit of deriving change as a community necessity — as a psychological and cultural imperative for this degree of advanced cultural evolution. It is a real kind of powerfully driven societal punctuated equilibrium that can be realized in few other ways.

In moving into the oceans, the submarine environment itself immediately establishes the boundary between the new, evolving culture and the old. While the effect and actual meaning of this boundary is almost always overrated, it is nonetheless a real boundary layer that allows the new culture to flourish sans the interferences or contamination from the old. Trying to accomplish transhumanist goals while culturally embedded is far more difficult and far less persuasive to those who must undergo dramatic change and for the transformation to actually take hold and survive generationally. But in a new, rather isolated environment, the pressure to evolve and integrate permanent change is not only easier, it is rather expected as a part of the reasonable process of establishment.

Continue reading “The Power of the Move Outbound” »


Jan 3, 2013

Explaining Space Travel

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biological, defense, engineering, ethics, existential risks, finance, geopolitics, habitats, military, nuclear, nuclear energy, space, transparency

I recently posted this on the only two other sites that will allow me to express my opinions;

I see the problem as one of self similarity; trying to go cheap being the downfall of all these schemes to work around human physiology.

When I first became interested in space travel several years ago I would comment on a couple blogs and find myself constantly arguing with private space proponents– and saying over and over again, “there is no cheap.” I was finally excommunicated from that bunch and banned from posting. They would start calling me an idiot and other insults and when I tried to return the favor the moderator would block my replies. The person who runs those two sites works for a firm promoting space tourism– go figure.

The problem is that while the aerospace industry made some money off the space program as an outgrowth of the military industrial complex, it soon became clear that spaceships are hard money– they have to work. The example of this is the outrage over the Apollo 1 fire and subsequent oversight of contractors– a practice which disappeared after Apollo and resulted in the Space Shuttle being such a poor design. A portion of the shuttle development money reportedly went under the table into the B-1 bomber program; how much we will never know. Swing wings are not easy to build which is why you do not see it anymore; cuts into profits.

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Jan 1, 2013

Cosmic Ray Gorilla

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, biotech/medical, defense, ethics, events, existential risks, futurism, habitats, military, nuclear, nuclear energy, policy, space, sustainability, transparency

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121231180632.htm

Excerpt: “Galactic cosmic radiation poses a significant threat to future astronauts,” said M. Kerry O’Banion, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy and the senior author of the study. “The possibility that radiation exposure in space may give rise to health problems such as cancer has long been recognized. However, this study shows for the first time that exposure to radiation levels equivalent to a mission to Mars could produce cognitive problems and speed up changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”

It appears when Eugene Parker wrote “Shielding Space Travelers” in 2006 he was right– and all the private space sycophants claiming radiation mitigation is trivial are wrong.

Only a massive water shield a minimum of 14 feet thick and massing 400 tons for a small capsule can shield human beings in deep space on long duration missions. And since a small capsule will not have sufficient space to keep a crew psychologically healthy on a multi-year journey it is likely such a shield will massive over a thousand tons.

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Dec 28, 2012

Forty Tons of Plutonium for Bomb Propulsion?

Posted by in categories: defense, engineering, existential risks, military, nuclear, nuclear energy, space

http://news.yahoo.com/nowhere-japans-growing-plutonium-stockpile-064038796.html

A half century after being developed, nuclear pulse propulsion remains the only practical system of interplanetary travel. What is required to launch a bomb propelled mission to the outer solar system? Well, first you need.…..bombs.

There is no shortage of bomb material on planet Earth. The problem is lack of a vehicle that can get this material to the nearest place a nuclear mission can be launched; the Moon. For over a quarter of a century a launch vehicle capable of sending significant payloads (and people) to the Moon has been lacking. The Space Transportation System, aka the space shuttle, was a dead end as far as exploration due to the lack of funding for a Sidemount cargo version.

Now we wait on the SLS.

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Sep 26, 2012

On Leaving the Earth. Like, Forever. Bye-Bye.

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, cosmology, defense, engineering, existential risks, futurism, human trajectories, lifeboat, military, singularity, space


Technology is as Human Does

When one of the U.S. Air Force’s top future strategy guys starts dorking out on how we’ve gotta at least begin considering what to do when a progressively decaying yet apocalyptically belligerent sun begins BBQing the earth, attention is payed. See, none of the proposed solutions involve marinade or species-level acquiescence, they involve practical discussion on the necessity for super awesome technology on par with a Kardeshev Type II civilization (one that’s harnessed the energy of an entire solar system).

Because Not if, but WHEN the Earth Dies, What’s Next for Us?
Head over to Kurzweil AI and have a read of Lt. Col. Peter Garretson’s guest piece. There’s perpetuation of the species stuff, singularity stuff, transhumanism stuff, space stuff, Mind Children stuff, and plenty else to occupy those of us with borderline pathological tech obsessions.

[BILLION YEAR PLAN — KURZWEIL AI]
[U.S. AIR FORCE BLUE HORIZONS FUTURE STUFF PROJECT]

Sep 6, 2012

GENCODE Apocalypse

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, business, chemistry, complex systems, counterterrorism, defense, ethics, events, evolution, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, habitats, homo sapiens, human trajectories, life extension, lifeboat, media & arts, military, open source, policy, space, supercomputing, sustainability, transparency

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120905134912.htm

It is a race against time– will this knowledge save us or destroy us? Genetic modification may eventually reverse aging and bring about a new age but it is more likely the end of the world is coming.

The Fermi Paradox informs us that intelligent life may not be intelligent enough to keep from destroying itself. Nothing will destroy us faster or more certainly than an engineered pathogen (except possibly an asteroid or comet impact). The only answer to this threat is an off world survival colony. Ceres would be perfect.

Sep 2, 2012

Verne, Wells, and the Obvious Future Part 3

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, counterterrorism, defense, education, engineering, ethics, events, futurism, geopolitics, life extension, media & arts, military, policy, robotics/AI, space, sustainability, transparency

A secret agent travels to a secret underground desert base being used to develop space weapons to investigate a series of mysterious murders. The agent finds a secret transmitter was built into a supercomputer that controls the base and a stealth plane flying overhead is controlling the computer and causing the deaths. The agent does battle with two powerful robots in the climax of the story.

Gog is a great story worthy of a sci fi action epic today– and was originally made in 1954. Why can’t they just remake these movies word for word and scene for scene with as few changes as possible? The terrible job done on so many remade sci fi classics is really a mystery. How can such great special effects and actors be used to murder a perfect story that had already been told well once? Amazing.

In contrast to Gog we have the fairly recent movie Stealth released in 2005 that has talent, special effects, and probably the worst story ever conceived. An artificially intelligent fighter plane going off the reservation? The rip-off of HAL from 2001 is so ridiculous.

Fantastic Voyage (1966) was a not so good story that succeeded in spite of stretching suspension of disbelief beyond the limit. It was a great movie and might succeed today if instead of miniaturized and injected into a human body it was instead a submarine exploring a giant organism under the ice of a moon in the outer solar system. Just an idea.

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