Our future in space

Rick Tumlinson has a lot to say about our future in space. There is much in this piece that fits with the ideas I present in Generation Mars. Give it a read and see what you think.

“But suppose we can get past this first phase of government’s trying to use space to dominate Earth and establish the first viable communities in the beyond. These can be based on underlying principles that focus on caring for life, evolving humanity and exploring the cosmos, and yes, funded by new industries and vast resources we no longer have to rip out of the MotherWorld. In that case, we may have a chance to move to a new level of human culture, where war, conquest, and control make way for more peaceful, collaborative efforts to expand the domain of life for all.”

This is the sort of culture I describe in Dawn, the Martian colony of my books.

Lunar South Pole

Human activity on the Moon will increase dramatically in the next decade. This article provides a concise view why.

A subplot in the forthcoming book, Water, involves a cousin on Earth who’s dad gets an assignment at the south pole of the Moon, studying ice cores for a new mine.

Mars model

This is interesting. A group of researchers developed an agent-based model of a Martian colony “to explore the psychological, social, technological, economic, and logistical factors that would influence the long-term viability of a human Martian settlement.”

They found that the minimum number of individuals needed to create a colony with a stable population was much smaller than one might anticipate: 22.

The population of Dawn, in my books, is around 5000. I’ve worried that this might be too small for self-sufficiency. The fact that this model suggests 22 individuals are enough for population stability (albeit with regular shipments from Earth) suggests otherwise.

The personality categorization used in the model is necessarily blunt. People are, of course, more complicated than what can be modeled in an agent-based system like this one. However, based on the characters I’ve written in Generation Mars, I think that if one were to attempt to categorize the population of Dawn in a similar way, it would lean heavily in the direction the model suggests as most likely to survive: agreeable, social, with a creative approach to life.

Ingenuity problems

NASA lost contact with Ingenuity on May 3. The little copter is having problems recharging its batteries due to dust accumulation and the short days of winter. NASA instructed Perseverance to stop all science activities and spend a full day listening. 24 hours later, Ingenuity had built up enough charge to reestablish communications.

Mars optimism

A succinct and optimistic piece from Chris Carberry and Rick Zucker at Explore Mars on why a commitment to putting humans on Mars is a good idea right now.
“After over 18 months of worldwide upheaval and social isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, people crave optimistic, ambitious, affordable and achievable programs that can help us overcome the negativity and division that hinders us.”

Starship will change everything

This is a long read, but worthwhile. It is not hyperbole to say that Starship will change everything. And it will happen faster than the current space industry is prepared to adapt.

From the article:

“There are still major risks on the critical path between now and a fully reusable Starship, but no miracles are required to solve them.

Starship will change the way we do business in space, and now is the time to start preparing.

Annual capacity to LEO climbs from its current average of 500 T for the whole of our civilization to perhaps 500 T per week. Eventually, it could exceed 1,000,000 T/year. At the same time, launch costs drop as low as $50/kg, roughly 100x lower than the present. For the same budget in launch, supply will have increased by roughly 100x. How can the space industry saturate this increased launch supply?

Prior to Starship, heavy machinery for building a Moon base could only come from NASA, because only NASA has the expertise to build a rocket propelled titanium Moon tractor for a billion dollars per unit. After Starship, Caterpillar or Deere or Kamaz can space qualify their existing commodity products with very minimal changes and operate them in space.

Even if the space industry fully understood Starship, I think it would be very difficult for them to plan and adapt rapidly enough to match the coming explosion in launch capacity.”