Register Register

Author Topic: VASIMR is a hoax ???  (Read 10356 times)

worktroll

  • Ombudsman
  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 22775
  • 504th "Gateway" Division
    • There are Monsters in my Sky!
VASIMR is a hoax ???
« on: 18 July 2011, 19:26:29 »
http://spacenews.com/commentaries/110711-vasimr-hoax.html

Quote
NASA has spent a lot on VASIMR, but its real cost is not the tens of millions spent on the thruster but the tens of billions that will be wasted as the human spaceflight program is kept mired in Earth orbit for the indefinite future, accomplishing nothing while waiting for the false vision to materialize. That is why, as unpleasant as it might be, this illusion needs to be exposed.
- Robert Zubrin, Mars Society

Now I know Zubrin is an iconoclast, and I know it's easy to hit on "the man", but this piece by him does seem to sound like the old "Man can never travel at 60mph, the air would be sucked out of his lungs!" arguments at the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Or does it? Zubrin is many things, but "stupid" usually isn't one of them.

Pardon the pun, but "watch this space!"

W.
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

Colt Ward

  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 21480
  • Gott Mit Uns
    • Merc Periphery Guide- Bakunin
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #1 on: 18 July 2011, 20:09:43 »
If I remember his previous comments, its more that we cannot learn about the system until we build one . . .

and regulation and safety concerns with the ISS prevent us from building one of the engines.
Colt Ward

Beware the vengeance of a patient man.
Clan Invasion Backer #149

cray

  • Freelance Writer
  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 5926
  • How's it sit? Pretty cunning, don't you think?
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #2 on: 18 July 2011, 20:52:50 »
Zubrin's playing fast and loose with numbers in that article. In fact, he's also slipping in strawman fallacies.

Quote
Existing ion thrusters routinely achieve 70 percent efficiency and have operated successfully both on the test stand and in space for thousands of hours.

And many other electric rockets generate less than 30% efficiency. The fact that some ion rockets - none on the major deep space missions with ion rockets - have 70% efficiency says nothing of the majority.

Quote
In contrast, after 30 years of research, the VASIMR has only obtained about 50 percent efficiency

And that's a workhorse efficiency for an electric rocket, nothing to be embarrassed about. If the engine masses are equal, the difference between a 50% and 70% efficiency in the motor is a 1.4x increase in the mass of the power supply (solar or nuke). To date, the solar arrays of ion-powered vessels have not been the dominant mass in the ion system. However, VASIMR offers to scale up well.

Quote
in test stand burns of a few seconds’ duration,

Well, no shit. The VASIMR forms its plasma in a vacuum and exhausts to a vacuum, but even the test units blow a lot of gas compared to small ion motors. It won't be long before you don't have a vacuum. Unless you want some ridiculous billion-dollar vacuum test chamber (like something out of the Cold War Pluto cruise missile test program), you're only going to run for seconds.

Quote
and that is only at high specific impulse. When the specific impulse is reduced, the efficiency drops in direct proportion. This means that the VASIMR’s much chanted (but always doubtful) claim that it could offer significant mission benefit by trading specific impulse for thrust is simply false.

I'm amazed Zubrin would mangle logic like that. Assuming fixed power input (reasonable), if you drop specific impulse, yes, efficiency is down. That's what Isp is: how much gas you're using for a given amount of thrust. However, there are times when lower Isp/higher thrust is worthwhile, typically when climbing out of gravity wells. You suffer smaller delta-V penalties by getting out of a gravity well sooner rather than later. Also, there are situations where you simply do not have time to exploit low thrust/high efficiency motors: with ion motors, it can take months or years to get some tens of meters of delta-V, and you might need more delta-V in less time. Having a motor that can flexibly shift modes is really useful.

Quote
Finally, if it is to be used in space, VASIMR will require practical high temperature superconducting magnets, which do not exist.

More unfounded claims. Superconductors are nice weight savers for plasma containment, but VASIMR isn't trying to be a fusion engine. If you really want superconductors, then there are superconductors that work at liquid nitrogen temperatures (and even 50K hotter), while LN2 is a space-storable liquid. Refrigerating recycled nitrogen would be a challenge, but it's not like battling with liquid hydrogen or, heaven forbid, liquid helium.

Quote
There is thus no basis whatsoever for believing in the feasibility of Chang Diaz’s fantasy power system.

Except, you know, all that other nuclear engineering that happened for space programs and the ground.

Wow, that article read like a poorly-studied internet rant.


and regulation and safety concerns with the ISS prevent us from building one of the engines.

More like feasibility. The ISS doesn't have the electrical power or cooling capacity to handle a VASIMR.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

cray

  • Freelance Writer
  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 5926
  • How's it sit? Pretty cunning, don't you think?
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #3 on: 18 July 2011, 20:57:31 »
I mean, honestly, I gave up on VASIMR as vaporware years ago. Not because it's technologically implausible or unfeasible, but because it only works on a scale of hardware that isn't going to be funded or launched.

Bored interns and grad students can slap together a micronewton ion motor for $100K and test it in a vacuum chamber made out of a beer keg (and collect and resell beer cans to pay for the electrical bills). VASIMR is aimed at propelling large (hundreds of tons) ships to Mars in weeks, which takes very large motors (even test units), large power supplies, large vacuum chambers, and...well, everything's large. That's expensive on the ground, and not something you're going to stick on a 1000-pound little space probe as prototype test flight.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

doulos05

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 633
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #4 on: 18 July 2011, 21:04:06 »
Yeah, I keep sending Bill Gates letters asking him to donate his fortune to Space exploration. Unfortunately, he's more concerned with stopping hurricanes and vaccinating kids. And people call him a visionary....
I mean, it's not like once you having something in low Earth orbit you can stick a gassy astronaut on the outside after Chili Night and fart it anywhere in the solar system.

Colt Ward

  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 21480
  • Gott Mit Uns
    • Merc Periphery Guide- Bakunin
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #5 on: 18 July 2011, 21:14:35 »
Lol!  We should make it the 1st CBT e-mail campaign!  Everyone email Gates!
Colt Ward

Beware the vengeance of a patient man.
Clan Invasion Backer #149

worktroll

  • Ombudsman
  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 22775
  • 504th "Gateway" Division
    • There are Monsters in my Sky!
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #6 on: 18 July 2011, 22:34:31 »
Wow, that article read like a poorly-studied internet rant.

That's what bothered me. Zubrin has always been enthusiastic and exuberant, but I think he's just made the transition to "old and cranky" (I recognise the symptoms).

W.
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

Marwynn

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 3983
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #7 on: 18 July 2011, 22:51:46 »
Yeah, I keep sending Bill Gates letters asking him to donate his fortune to Space exploration. Unfortunately, he's more concerned with stopping hurricanes and vaccinating kids. And people call him a visionary....

The dastard. Doesn't he know how cool this is? Forget feeding hurricanes or whatever... Mars, baby!

Drop Bear

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1485
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #8 on: 18 July 2011, 23:00:05 »
or a ploy, Rant and Carry on, get people questioning the Science and Politics of the thing to re-open debate and have folks asking the right questions on their own and get things mowing again when proponents of the plan move in to defend it and present working plans or drag out proof of their theories that they have bean sitting on.

JadeHellbringer

  • This Space Intentionally Left Blank
  • Administrator
  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 19853
  • TurquoiseKitFox!
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #9 on: 19 July 2011, 10:30:14 »
Lol!  We should make it the 1st CBT e-mail campaign!  Everyone email Gates!

2nd campaign. Remember when we had the write-in campaign for how Vlad Ward should meet his end? Vote early, vote often!

I can't remember exactly, but I think 'eaten by giant Venus Flytrap' was the winner.
"There's a difference between the soldier and his fight,
But the warrior knows the true meaning of his life."
+Larry and his Flask, 'Blood Drunk'+

"You know, basically war is just, like, a bunch of people playing pranks on each other, but at the end they all die."
+Crow T. Robot+

ANS Kamas P81

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 10735
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #10 on: 19 July 2011, 10:35:58 »
Convince Bill Gates we have to fight hurricanes ON Mars.

Niopsian

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 771
  • I dunno.
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #11 on: 19 July 2011, 11:48:07 »
Convince Bill Gates we have to fight hurricanes ON Mars.

I thought we wanted to CAUSE hurricanes on Mars.


...cut a manager in to come up with a plan and the next thing you know you're big in Japan

ShadowRaven

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 8159
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #12 on: 19 July 2011, 13:34:21 »
2nd campaign. Remember when we had the write-in campaign for how Vlad Ward should meet his end? Vote early, vote often!

I can't remember exactly, but I think 'eaten by giant Venus Flytrap' was the winner.

Damn I missed that one. I would have voted for a jumpjet to the face.
We are Clan Snow Raven. Masters of the void, and reapers of your souls

befriend (v.): to use mecha-class beam weaponry to inflict grievous bodily harm on a target in the process of proving the validity of your belief system.
— From a post on rpg.net

StCptMara

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 6014
  • Looking for new Adder skin boots
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #13 on: 20 July 2011, 05:17:55 »
Damn I missed that one. I would have voted for a jumpjet to the face.

Already been done.

You know, though, this whole thing keeps making me think of how sad our Space Program has become.
Ultimately, we went from going to the moon to just going around in circles. Sure, we learned alot about
stuff like what we need to prepare for with the longer flights, but we have yet to do anything with that.
We have paid the cost in human lives, and yet, now, instead of seeking to do the International Mission
to Mars...we continue to sit on our hands and say "but we need this, and we need that.."

What happened to a nation that went from not knowing the first thing about space flight to putting a man on
the moon and returning him to Earth in a DECADE, to what we have now? Remember, Yuri Gregarin, when he
went up, was convinced he was going to die in space. The Apollo 11 crew, when they landed, had just enough fuel to get off the moon because they had bad data on the landing location. Apollo 13, despite the damage, still orbited the moon(for the slingshot back to Earth), and came back in the Lunar Lander(doing what the thing was not designed to do!).

Too bad we nopw have a planet of cowards.

"Victory or Debt!"- The Battlecry of Mercenaries everywhere

"Greetings, Mechwarrior! You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against---Oops, wrong universe" - Unknown SLDF Recruiter

Reality and Battletech go hand in hand like a drug induced hallucination and engineering a fusion reactor ;-)

cray

  • Freelance Writer
  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 5926
  • How's it sit? Pretty cunning, don't you think?
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #14 on: 20 July 2011, 08:28:40 »
Mars is a dead end, though. It'd be an epic and expensive scientific visit to plant the flag and grab some rocks. And, no, I'm not overwhelmed at the idea of putting a permanent base or colony on Mars.

I was rather happier with the notion of going back to the moon and perhaps developing some infrastructure there. That would be more of a stepping stone than the ISS. There might not be as many useful resources on the moon as Mars (easier to find water on the latter and no worries of quickly exhausting it), but a program with 3-day flights is much easier than programs with 90- or 270-day flights. Something so "close" as the moon simplifies or eliminates a lot of engineering problems found in Mars missions: escape and return options get easier; direct teleoperation of remote vehicles are possible; life support is simpler; risk of and protection from solar flares is easier.

Visiting an Earth-crossing asteroid is also a useful goal for about the same reason as the moon, though it picks up the Mars-like problems of distance. An asteroid, though, avoids Mars' deep gravity well.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

StCptMara

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 6014
  • Looking for new Adder skin boots
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #15 on: 20 July 2011, 16:19:07 »
You need a mars colony to be able to effectively handle the logistics of belt mining, I would think.
"Victory or Debt!"- The Battlecry of Mercenaries everywhere

"Greetings, Mechwarrior! You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against---Oops, wrong universe" - Unknown SLDF Recruiter

Reality and Battletech go hand in hand like a drug induced hallucination and engineering a fusion reactor ;-)

ShadowRaven

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 8159
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #16 on: 20 July 2011, 16:46:32 »
You need a mars colony to be able to effectively handle the logistics of belt mining, I would think.

you would, yes. However, at present, belt mining is a (not quite) impossible goal. We're talking a year and a half round trip for materials to get to Earth, at ridiculous cost.
We are Clan Snow Raven. Masters of the void, and reapers of your souls

befriend (v.): to use mecha-class beam weaponry to inflict grievous bodily harm on a target in the process of proving the validity of your belief system.
— From a post on rpg.net

cray

  • Freelance Writer
  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 5926
  • How's it sit? Pretty cunning, don't you think?
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #17 on: 20 July 2011, 17:47:41 »
You need a mars colony to be able to effectively handle the logistics of belt mining, I would think.

Since the Belt and Mars have the same resources, I don't see the advantage of diverting to Mars. I only see disadvantages:

1) Deep gravity well. You need about 4100m/s to get to Low Mars Orbit, including gravity losses in the climb. De-orbit is almost free with aerobraking, but any surface-to-orbit logistics craft is going to have to spend over 4kps simply to get to orbit. Such a vehicle could launch directly from Ceres (the deepest Belt gravity well) and begin a fairly swift flight to Earth on the same fuel.

2) Complications of spacecraft design. An asteroid lander (if it's needed at all) does not need to contend with aerobraking. It would not need high thrust, frequent-restart motors suited for frontier conditions (little motors with frequent restarts and low maintenance are proven; something to lift several hundred tons off Mars without lots of maintenance is not). And, while it might be dusty, the asteroid lander wouldn't have to deal with the dust-frost-wind-superoxide environment of Mars.

3) New spacesuits. Asteroid operations only need easily maintained, long-life improvements on current spacesuit technologies. Mars presents difficulties in spacesuit cooling that have no been demonstrably solved - the pressure is too high to use normal sublimative cooling, but too low for convective/forced draft cooling.

4) Unnecessary new equipment. Mars needs new landers while if you don't go to the big asteroids, you don't even need separate asteroid landers - the deep space vehicle can "dock" or settle on the asteroid. Mars needs the new suits in addition to whatever's serving at the Belt. Mars probably needs rovers, too, unlike the asteroids.

5) Mars is not all that much closer to Earth than the asteroids in terms of delta-V or flight times. Once you're able to reach Mars, a few extra kps can get you to the Belt in a little longer.

If Mars offered something needed for spacecraft logistics not found in the Belt, I'd agree that it'd be worth the stop. But the Belt has all the same elements and chemicals as Mars - water and more.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

vidar

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 607
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #18 on: 20 July 2011, 19:17:56 »
Any one else read "Mining the Sky"?  The implication are that asteroid mining would be more effective than trying to go deep into a gravity well.  So the use of Mars as a base is not real feasible, one it's moons yes.  But the reason to go to Mars is more exploration and "I bet you!".  So the Mars first club seem to be trying to recreate Apllo and have forgotten the lack of a long term goal doomed us to many years of mediorcarcy after the moon landings.

worktroll

  • Ombudsman
  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 22775
  • 504th "Gateway" Division
    • There are Monsters in my Sky!
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #19 on: 20 July 2011, 19:33:11 »
A far better solution would be to set up a base on Phobos. It's well placed to serve as a waystation for ships moving from Earth to Belt without worrying about Mars' gravity well, close enough to be a useful base for anyone who does want to explore Mars, and both the well and the Martian atmosphere make it much easier to rendevous in Mars orbit, or change your trajectory, for free. The delta-V between Phobos orbit & the Belt is minimal too.

Besides, I want a condo about two thirds of the way up Strickney crater. Imagine the view ...

W.
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

GBscientist

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 418
  • It could always be worse.
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #20 on: 20 July 2011, 19:49:36 »
Would it be possible to haul current-tech space station modules to the Belt to set up a mining base?  If we could do that, possibly with unmanned ships to deploy the first components, an expedition would be far more feasible.  Basically, just move the ISS to the Belt and add a greenhouse and a solar smelter.
"Peace through superior firepower."- Arsenal of Freedom, ST:TNG

cray

  • Freelance Writer
  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 5926
  • How's it sit? Pretty cunning, don't you think?
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #21 on: 20 July 2011, 20:25:30 »
So the Mars first club seem to be trying to recreate Apllo and have forgotten the lack of a long term goal doomed us to many years of mediorcarcy after the moon landings.

Well said.

A far better solution would be to set up a base on Phobos.

Well...I'll deal with the parts I disagree with first.

Quote
It's well placed to serve as a waystation for ships moving from Earth to Belt without worrying about Mars' gravity well

That's partly true - you still have to spend about 1000m/s (for a high-impulse motor) to escape Mars' gravity from Phobos. Low-thrust electric motors significantly increase delta-V requirements.

Worse, though, you have to stop at Mars for this waystation. New Horizons blew past Jupiter (5AUs!) in one year because it wasn't restricting its velocity to something onboard fuel could stop at Mars or Jupiter. I mean, NASA hardly had time to finish checking out its systems and get New Horizons to pivot and moon Dejah Thoris before it was blitzing toward the Belt.

In other words, if you take the time to get a ship up to useful interplanetary speeds, then you have the problem of stopping it. Stopping and restarting from a waystation doesn't help with fuel and supplies, it exacerbates the problem because you lose kps (perhaps tens of kps, depending on the engine technology) doing so.

Quote
The delta-V between Phobos orbit & the Belt is minimal too.

See above. If you're making a fresh start from Phobos, sure. But if you launched from Earth, not so much, and multi-AU interplanetary flight will benefit from every extra KPS.

Quote
, close enough to be a useful base for anyone who does want to explore Mars, and both the well and the Martian atmosphere make it much easier to rendevous in Mars orbit, or change your trajectory, for free.

And here's a part I agree with.

Phobos, IMO, is a good destination if you are NOT going to the Belt and it is confirmed to have water/hydrates. It is, IMO, even better than near-Earth asteroids because, for the most part, travel times aren't much longer. (Near-Earth asteroids aren't hovering near Earth, but rather pass near once or twice a year.) If you're patient, total delta-V to get to Phobos is less than landing on Luna because you don't have large capture and landing burns, let alone takeoffs. It would be quite reasonable for large interplanetary spacecraft to park at the Mars-Sol L1 point and send modest shuttles to Phobos. And, yes, it is a handy place for the big-budget types that want to visit Mars for rocks and flags. Phobos isn't necessarily metal-rich, but it could be a handy start.

Quote
Besides, I want a condo about two thirds of the way up Strickney crater. Imagine the view ...

My dream view? Glad you asked. :)

I want to see an orbital tether in Earth orbit. Not a full space elevator, but something several thousand kilometers long. Tidal forces will keep it pointed at Earth, allowing you to suspend a sizable landing pad at the "low" end. Such things can offer several kps assists to spacecraft launching from Earth. And if you knock 1-3kps off orbital velocity requirements, SSTOs (or "Single Stage To Tethers," SSTTs) get vastly easier to build.

Because only the center of mass (a couple thousand kilometers up) is at zero-G, the high and low ends actually feel some noticeable acceleration. The low end, without enough centripetal force to fully cancel gravity, experiences real, if reduced, planetary gravity. The high end has an excess of centripetal force, so it feels an outward "gravity." If the tether offers about a 2.4kps launch assist, the low platform (at 90-150km altitude) will experience about 0.5G.

And I want to be on the low end. I imagine it as a large landing deck, like an aircraft carrier, so aerodyne shuttles can land and roll around conventionally (albeit without air - it's a zero-G docking at the shuttle's apogee). But underneath? Lacking decent artwork, imagine inverted Disney Contemporary Resorts dangling from under the landing deck. Glass walled, glass floored (for the lucky, ultra-rich folks with the bottom apartments). Maybe several such "stalagtite buildings" under the deck, to maximize the view of the ground below for as many paying customers as possible.

Mars seen from orbit is nice, but there's more variety to Earth seen from about 100km up.



Would it be possible to haul current-tech space station modules to the Belt to set up a mining base?  If we could do that, possibly with unmanned ships to deploy the first components, an expedition would be far more feasible.  Basically, just move the ISS to the Belt and add a greenhouse and a solar smelter.

It would take a lot of gas to do so (more than can be feasibly launched with existing rockets unless you had an obscene budget), and take very long flight times (a couple of years) with high expenses because of safety problems. If something goes wrong on the ISS on their 3- to 6-month missions, people jump in the docked Soyuz capsules and drop to Earth. If something goes wrong on the ISS half way to the Belt, they die. That requires additional engineering that drives up the costs.

Then there's the problem of what you're getting out of the mining experience: nothing currently technology can extract is worth shipping home. The point of settling the Belt is to settle the Belt, not a turn a profit at home.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

GBscientist

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 418
  • It could always be worse.
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #22 on: 20 July 2011, 21:04:30 »
Wouldn't settling the Belt require some habitats to be deployed from Earth, at least for the first wave of colonists?
"Peace through superior firepower."- Arsenal of Freedom, ST:TNG

cray

  • Freelance Writer
  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 5926
  • How's it sit? Pretty cunning, don't you think?
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #23 on: 20 July 2011, 21:52:06 »
Wouldn't settling the Belt require some habitats to be deployed from Earth, at least for the first wave of colonists?

Well, yes, but that doesn't apply to your prior post. You asked about sending habitats suited for 3-6 people with inefficient, low-capacity off-the-shelf technology to the Belt. Belt colonization requires something much greater than the ISS and the rockets that launched it.

I mean, it's not like once you having something in low Earth orbit you can stick a gassy astronaut on the outside after Chili Night and fart it anywhere in the solar system. It takes an enormous effort (in terms of tons of fuel per ton of payload) to leave Earth orbit. Getting to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is only a small part of the job. And setting up a credible colonization effort is even more epic - you're moving hundreds and thousands of people, not 3-6.
« Last Edit: 20 July 2011, 22:08:12 by cray »
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

doulos05

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 633
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #24 on: 21 July 2011, 00:14:06 »
I mean, it's not like once you having something in low Earth orbit you can stick a gassy astronaut on the outside after Chili Night and fart it anywhere in the solar system. It takes an enormous effort (in terms of tons of fuel per ton of payload) to leave Earth orbit. Getting to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is only a small part of the job. And setting up a credible colonization effort is even more epic - you're moving hundreds and thousands of people, not 3-6.
I'm sigging this. That's hilarious.
I mean, it's not like once you having something in low Earth orbit you can stick a gassy astronaut on the outside after Chili Night and fart it anywhere in the solar system.

Daemonknight228

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 880
  • mei veneratio est mei vita
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #25 on: 21 July 2011, 02:21:15 »
agreed :P wasn't expecting that little gem
Global Moderator - Intelser.org

"I imagine he burned up on re-entry. That kind of happens when one is spaced in orbit without any kind of flight suit, parachute, or other protective gear...."
-Herb Beas

Space him from orbit...it's the only way to be sure.

Weirdo

  • Painter of Borth the Magic Puma
  • Global Moderator
  • Lieutenant General
  • *
  • Posts: 35646
  • Carpe Arcanum Cibum
    • Christina Dickinson Writes
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #26 on: 21 July 2011, 02:56:15 »
As anyone who's read StratOps will know, there's often nothing funnier than Cray in the middle of a good Science©. 8)
"Thanks to Megamek, I can finally play BattleTech the way it was meant to be played--pantsless!"   -Neko Bijin
"It's just that the Hegemony had one answer to every naval problem. 'I kills it with my battleships.'" - Liam's Ghost
"...finally, giant space panties don't seem so strange." - Whistler
"Damn you, Weirdo... Damn you for being right!" - Paul
"...I was this many years old when I found out that licking a touchscreen in excitement is a bad idea." - JadeHellbringer
"We are the tribal elders. Weirdo is the mushroom specialist." - Worktroll

ANS Kamas P81

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 10735
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #27 on: 21 July 2011, 03:16:49 »
I'll give another reason for the moon instead of Mars, at least to start with.  You can see home, just by stepping outside or looking out a window, and there's something to that.

Blackjack Jones

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 853
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #28 on: 21 July 2011, 04:58:23 »
I'll give another reason for the moon instead of Mars, at least to start with.  You can see home, just by stepping outside or looking out a window, and there's something to that.

And a reasonable expectation of help when Mr. Murphy shows up. Hoping a rescue party shows up inside a week is nowhere as bad as 6 months to a year. Or getting getting near realtime information from Earth on the Moon (less than 3 second lag round trip) vs. the radio lag on Mars (10-20 minutes one way).

cray

  • Freelance Writer
  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 5926
  • How's it sit? Pretty cunning, don't you think?
Re: VASIMR is a hoax ???
« Reply #29 on: 21 July 2011, 07:50:52 »
As anyone who's read StratOps will know, there's often nothing funnier than Cray in the middle of a good Science©. 8)

Erm...the grape was my muse last night.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

**"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything." --Wash, Firefly.
**"Well, the first class name [for pocket WarShips]: 'Ship with delusions of grandeur that is going to evaporate 3.1 seconds after coming into NPPC range' tended to cause morale problems...." --Korzon77
**"Describe the Clans." "Imagine an entire civilization built out of 80’s Ric Flairs, Hulk Hogans, & Macho Man Randy Savages ruling over an entire labor force with Einstein Level Intelligence." --Jake Mikolaitis


Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.

 

Register