# The near future of space exploration

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#### SaturnV

##### Well-Known Member
I think that the astronauts must go to orbit in small rockets as Soyuz or Falcon or the like. And to return to single tiny capsules - Sojuz or Apolo. Also must not be more than 3 . Yet everything happens. I think the shuttle should not be closed. It is perfect for uploading and downloading cargo from orbit. Just should not be manned.Especially need a modernized Saturn V. No three-stage - two-stage for heavy loads at low orbit.

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#### SaturnV

##### Well-Known Member
For example, how Falcon or Angara will embark on orbit nuclear reactor of 150 tons? They'll cut parts and welded it in orbit? And without atomic reactor flight to Mars and beyond will be a tragedy. Close, cold, limited resources .. one word misery.An prisoner at the prison sagging will live more comfortably by astronauts.
By what power will be powered magnetic shield against radiation? Nuclear reactor no alternative for long flights ..
Would be protected from radiation with plastic bags .. That 'is ridiculous. Moreover, the experience of the missions to the moon showed that the astronauts must have a great resource limit with the engine. From where to where various military have unlimited limit the carrier and astronauts to believe grams fuel?Astronauts need to be central in a large Cadillac pulling large barrel of gasoline. Not like in the Ford Focus with 5 gallons of fuel

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#### GregGleason

##### Well-Known Member
In my thinking (not an expert) but while the length of time for space is linear, the cost to keep humans safe goes up exponentially.

Human travel to Mars is technically possible, but I don't know if any nation (other than governments with a great deal of command and control) would be willing to dole out the cash necessary for such an endeavor. Power is just one issue, there are the consumables like oxygen, water, food, etc. that need to be managed as well.

Robotics are the better solution for Beyond Mars travel.

As an aside, lunar modules for Apollos 12 through 17 had a small reactor (link). There was a concern with the LEM on Apollo 13 on what would happen with it on reentry (link).

Greg

#### Charles_McG

##### Ciderwright
For manned flight to LEO, I've always thought the concept of a suborbital craft (like the VG Spaceship Two) catching a momentum exchange tether to and from orbit would be cool.

#### jeff_j_black

##### Well-Known Member
The ISS was a waste. We should have built a platform for assembling rockets in space. That would have been a ground breaking prospect!

We (The US) spent too long a time using the space shuttle while putting no effort into developing some other manned flight capability.

So look at us now. We can't go anywhere. We have to pay tens of millions of dollars to another country just to get us to the ISS.

2 of the 3 entities that are currently contracted by NASA to develop manned space flight again, use engines that are bought from that same country that charges us millions to fly to the ISS.

The real problem is science and politics are not good together. What is NASAs mission now? They spend a great deal of time on global climate change and community relations.

The people have lost the interest and the will to look up. Instead they entertain a myopic view of their own personal suffering, rather than asking 'what could be'?

The government would rather manage large demographics of disempowered lives than face adventurous and empowered individuals blazing their own trails in the greater history of progress.

In short, I will back anything that takes us there, wherever there is and whatever it takes. I like Spacex a lot, vision, motivation and they do it all in house.

But larger entities and conglomerations could do more on a grander scale, much like the moon landings in the sixties. We came in peace for all mankind.

#### SaturnV

##### Well-Known Member
In my thinking (not an expert) but while the length of time for space is linear, the cost to keep humans safe goes up exponentially.

Human travel to Mars is technically possible, but I don't know if any nation (other than governments with a great deal of command and control) would be willing to dole out the cash necessary for such an endeavor. Power is just one issue, there are the consumables like oxygen, water, food, etc. that need to be managed as well.

Robotics are the better solution for Beyond Mars travel.

As an aside, lunar modules for Apollos 12 through 17 had a small reactor (link). There was a concern with the LEM on Apollo 13 on what would happen with it on reentry (link).

Greg
Naturally, I'm not an expert too. But I have an opinion and flights into space are my passion. Pointless is only one country to pay. This is a venture of all mankind. Fundamentally right about the exponential increase in the cost of people on board. But no man is not the same.On the nuclear reactor. Apollo is not true nuclear reactor and a plutonium battery. I speak to you for a real nuclear reactor at least 100 megawatts to supply the nuclear-powered ship, the magnetic shield, powerful laser beam that can be dispose micrometeorites.Will hold a spectacular survey of the entire solar system, all planets, all satellites. No need for astronauts to land on planets. The ship will have many probes. As will be nuclear-powered with unlimited resources it can take hundreds of probes on board . There will be no need to perform stupid maneuvers to accelerate the ship from other planets.Will fly directly to them in the shortest time. Astronauts will have all the amenities. At least two doctors on board one surgeon. There will compartment of the ship with Gravitation (rotation). Will be able to take even wives or girlfriends if they want to have sex All this technology currently exists. You just have a big investment but once built this ship can fly dozens of times.It will be built in orbit and nuclear reactor never landed on the ground.Nuclear fuel will be uploaded to orbit with secure rockets supplied people in orbit with all safety measures. Naturally, not all at once but in portions. It was routine steps are being made every day on aircraft carriers, submarines, nuclear plants.
P.S.
Kinda like rocket fuel chemical, smoke, fire, sound. But they are unsuitable for long space flights. Ion engines are also died job. Must now nuclear-powered engine and antimatter in the future.

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#### SpaceManMat

##### Space Nut
I'm a massive fan of the space shuttle. In my mind it is the cool space vehicle ever built. Yes it is reusable, but the cost was huge and ultimately it did not forfill the promise of frequent access to space. On the other hand the Falcon 9 rocket is by far the cheapest rocket available and that's even without reusing anything. SpaceX are constantly innovating, so they will constantly modify their rockets for performance and towards the end game of reusability. In my mind SpaceX is much like the NASA of the 60s where they had a mission, the funding and the determination to pull off their wildest dream.

#### SaturnV

##### Well-Known Member
I'm a massive fan of the space shuttle. In my mind it is the cool space vehicle ever built. Yes it is reusable, but the cost was huge and ultimately it did not forfill the promise of frequent access to space. On the other hand the Falcon 9 rocket is by far the cheapest rocket available and that's even without reusing anything. SpaceX are constantly innovating, so they will constantly modify their rockets for performance and towards the end game of reusability. In my mind SpaceX is much like the NASA of the 60s where they had a mission, the funding and the determination to pull off their wildest dream.
The shuttle is irreplaceable when you need to remove cargo from orbit. For example Hubble telescope for repairs. Just can not otherwise be removed from orbit except with the shuttle. Otherwise people is meaningless. There is little reliable rockets. For heavy loads it is also pointless. There are heavy cargo rockets like the Delta 4, Proton, Angara, Falcon Hevy.The resources on major this is an outright lie. I'm sure stealing an awful lot. And it is high time for non-military purposes to create a global agency to pay at least 1% tax Cosmos of everyone on Earth .

#### SaturnV

Can someone explain to me how some engines that are 15-20 million dollars, some tanks and some electronics and pipes and suddenly the price jumped to $2 billion?To me it seems that steal very much. Or is there an awful lot of people who receive money and do not work. #### SaturnV ##### Well-Known Member For example, my favorite rocket Saturn V. To consider option 2 stages either whole drive of 150 tons of low orbit. What is so expensive? 5 F-1 engine. Off too slowly will put 6.The second stage may not use j-2 engine and for example 1 or 2 F-1. 2700 tons of lamp oil and liquid oxygen. Electronics much more powerful than the original and then a much smaller size.Possibility first stage or at least the engines to land a parachute into the ocean.And that someone wants to convince me that it costs billions of dollars? I'll call it incompetent or liar.With 10 flights could assemble nuclear spacecraft weighs 1500 tons.Nuclear spacecraft will be much more expensive than the aircraft or several nuclear submarines. But will reveal 90% of the mysteries of the solar system. Broadcast live on planets and satellites with much better quality than the Apollo missions I have a dream ... I'm on board this ship Last edited: #### Mushtang ##### Premium Member TRF Supporter Or is there an awful lot of people who receive money and do not work. WAY too many!! But I don't think you're talking about the entitlement class in America. Research and development costs big money, and contributes zero physical material to the final product. But knowing how to build the final product, what works and what doesn't, how to test the product so you're confident it will work correctly, etc. is necessary and the only way to get that information is R&D. #### DaveHein ##### Well-Known Member The shuttle is irreplaceable when you need to remove cargo from orbit. For example Hubble telescope for repairs. Just can not otherwise be removed from orbit except with the shuttle. Otherwise people is meaningless. There is little reliable rockets. For heavy loads it is also pointless. There are heavy cargo rockets like the Delta 4, Proton, Angara, Falcon Hevy.The resources on major this is an outright lie. I'm sure stealing an awful lot. And it is high time for non-military purposes to create a global agency to pay at least 1% tax Cosmos of everyone on Earth . The Space Shuttle was just waaaay too expensive. It cost about$18,000/Kg to put a payload into LEO. The Falcon 9 is around $3,000/Kg. The Space Shuttle had to haul a lot of extra mass up into orbit, and then it brought most of it back to earth again. That's just not a very cost-effective way to do things. The Hubble could have been serviced by a crew flying in a capsule. There was no need to fly a semi-truck with wings up to the Hubble to service it. If NASA had continued developing Apollo-style rockets during the last 40 years we'd be much further along in manned space exploration than we are today. #### SaturnV ##### Well-Known Member Saturn V in Carbon WOW 200 tons at one flight 10 Falcon heavy or Angara What Research and development Saturn V already invented, only slightly modernized. Nuclear reactors are operated for 70 years, projects for nuclear space engines are also made russians even have some almost ready but stopped by use you should also have some Magnetic Shield - there are many developments in this topic related to particle accelerators, military have powerful lasers against micrometeorites. Everything has. #### Charles_McG ##### Ciderwright There was a project to recreate the F1 with modern manufacturing methods, rather than hand welding so fine it could be art. Haven't heard anything about it in recently - I wonder if it's still active. #### Mushtang ##### Premium Member TRF Supporter There was a project to recreate the F1 with modern manufacturing methods, rather than hand welding so fine it could be art. Haven't heard anything about it in recently - I wonder if it's still active. The last I heard about the F-1B was that it was being considered for use on the boosters of the SLS, but when NASA decided to use SRBs instead of liquid they stopped the F-1B development. I was rooting for the F-1B, I would loved to have seen it fly! #### ThirstyBarbarian ##### Well-Known Member Unfortunately, I do not see a 1,500-ton, nuclear-powered spacecraft with spin gravity and a laser cannon as the "near future" of space exploration. Maybe someday. But not the near future. On the bright side, I do see a lot of interesting things coming in the near future. First, we are going to be getting some very heavy lift capabilities in the near term. The Falcon Heavy is designed to be able to put more payload into orbit than any other rocket currently flying, and if reusability actually works out, it should be much cheaper than anything else we've ever seen. That opens up a lot of options in terms of what you can afford to put into space. They say the Falcon Heavy will fly within six months, which we've heard before. We shall see. Also, SpaceX just recently shipped one of its new Raptor engines to Texas for testing. The Raptor has three times the thrust of the Merlin, so maybe we'll see the next generation of super big rockets from SpaceX in a couple of years. The other heavy lift rocket in the works is the SLS. I recently read that an apples-to-apples comparison indicates that the later variants (Block III or Block IV?) will be able to boost more payload into orbit than the mighty Saturn V. Earlier comparisons were between payload for the SLS versus "injected mass" for the Saturn V, so they were not good comparisons. Anyway, if SLS works out, we will have a heavy lift booster in the same class as Saturn. Any serious space exploration begins with being able to get mass into orbit, so it's great to see progress on that! I'm also really looking forward to seeing the crewed Dragon fly, and also the Red Dragon fly to Mars for a landing attempt (uncrewed). I'm excited about the crewed capsule being developed by Boeing. And I'm looking forward to seeing more progress on Orion. It will be great to have more options for getting people into space and back again. NASA just recently picked six companies to develop concepts for deep-space habitats --- the kinds of modules that would be needed for a space station near the moon, or a trip to an asteroid or Mars, or a space station around Mars. The ISS has been good for learning how to live and work in Earth orbit, but the deep space environment has other challenges, including a much harsher radiation environment, so it will be interesting to see what they come up with. Those pieces --- heavy lift booster, capsule, and deep-space habitat --- are all in the pipeline. And you could do a lot of interesting missions with those elements. There are a few other pieces that I think are required for a robust space exploration program. One is a powerful, reusable, and refuelable propulsion module that can be used for deep-space missions to places like asteroids and Mars. I am not aware of anything like that being under active development. And another is a lander for getting to the surface of the moon, and a different type of lander and ascent vehicle for Mars. If we can get these main elements developed, then I think we've got a real space exploration program. #### Charles_McG ##### Ciderwright Is there still a VASIMR engine slated for the ISS? That's another good stepping stone. #### SaturnV ##### Well-Known Member Unfortunately, I do not see a 1,500-ton, nuclear-powered spacecraft with spin gravity and a laser cannon as the "near future" of space exploration.. Of course, you can not see. You're ThirstyBarbarian. If you were SaturnV would wonder why it is not done 20 years ago. For comparison see the development in airplanes. Where are the Wright brothers, where the supersonic plane only 50 years later? The technology is here but not used. Falcon 9 represent me as a miracle of engineering, and it is same the russian rocket which flew Gagarin 60 years ago.You can imagine that completely real ship that I have described can stop en route to unearth 20 tons diamonds from an asteroid which then shuttle to bring the earth?A Dragon capsule can bring two pounds of gravel &#1086;f Mars.It can not because there will be no fuel to return Long trips per person in space without nuclear engine magnetic shield against cosmic radiation and laser against micrometeorites are doomed to failure. Columbus discovered America on the ship not on the canoe. Last edited: #### ThirstyBarbarian ##### Well-Known Member Is there still a VASIMR engine slated for the ISS? That's another good stepping stone. I don't know. Was there ever a VASIMIR engine slated for ISS? That would be great! #### Charles_McG ##### Ciderwright There was, but at the end of the shuttle era, I think the Alpha Magnetometer beat it out for heavy lifting priority. I haven't seen much lately, though I think NASA is still throwing some money that direction. #### ThirstyBarbarian ##### Well-Known Member Of course, you can not see. You're ThirstyBarbarian. If you were SaturnV would wonder why it is not done 20 years ago. For comparison see the development in airplanes. Where are the Wright brothers, where the supersonic plane only 50 years later? The technology is here but not used. Falcon 9 represent me as a miracle of engineering, and it is same the russian rocket which flew Gagarin 60 years ago.You can imagine that completely real ship that I have described can stop en route to unearth 20 tons diamonds from an asteroid which then shuttle to bring the earth?A Dragon capsule can bring two pounds of gravel &#1086;f Mars.It can not because there will be no fuel to return Long trips per person in space without nuclear engine magnetic shield against cosmic radiation and laser against micrometeorites are doomed to failure. Columbus discovered America on the ship not on the canoe. Well, I think if you can prove there is 20 tons of diamonds sitting on a an asteroid, someone will build a ship to bring it back. I'm not saying I don't think the things you are talking about aren't possible. And I agree that many of these things should be goals. I just don't see them happening in the "near future". I guess it depends on what you mean by near. 10 years? 20? Or something more like 50 years or a century? Maybe if we had started on it seriously 50 years ago, then we would have these things now. When I was a kid, I was sure we would have them. But we didn't start then, so we don't have them now, and wishing it had been different doesn't make it so. I think there are a lot of technical challenges to what you are talking about, but there are also a lot of financial issues and other issues as well. For example, I think there may some treaty issues to having a nuclear powered craft equipped with a laser weapon. So with all that said, I am very excited and optimistic about the things that are currently under development, even if they are 50 years behind where they should be. #### Peartree ##### Cyborg Rocketeer Staff member Administrator Global Mod There was, but at the end of the shuttle era, I think the Alpha Magnetometer beat it out for heavy lifting priority. I haven't seen much lately, though I think NASA is still throwing some money that direction. From Wikipedia: VX-200SS In March 2015, Ad Astra announced the award of a$10 million award from NASA to advance the technology readiness of the VASIMR engine, the VX-200SS (SS stands for steady state) to meet the needs of deep space mission concepts.

A long duration (up to 100 hr.) test is now needed to
demonstrate the engine&#8217;s new proprietary core
design and thermal control subsystem and better
advances will now be incorporated, under the
present NASA contract, in a new fully integrated
test article
state).

From NASA's Press release:

Selected advanced electric propulsion projects will develop propulsion technology systems in the 50- to 300-kilowatt range to meet the needs of a variety of deep space mission concepts. State-of-the-art electric propulsion technology currently employed by NASA generates less than five kilowatts, and systems being developed for the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) Broad Area Announcement (BAA) are in the 40-kilowatt range.

The three NextSTEP advanced propulsion projects, $400,000 to$3.5 million per year per award, will have no more than a three-year performance period focused on ground testing efforts. The selected companies are:

Ad Astra Rocket Company of Webster, Texas
Aeroject Rocketdyne Inc. of Redmond, Washington
MSNW LLC of Redmond, Washington
Full text here: https://www.nasa.gov/press/2015/march/nasa-announces-new-partnerships-with-us-industry-for-key-deep-space-capabilities

#### SaturnV

##### Well-Known Member
Okay, I'll explain with pictures that my prediction has nothing fantastic.

Magnetic shield. Many such gadgets naturally not exactly but with great power consumption.

Laser. The military have very powerful. Greater power consumption.

Saturn V.With Neanderthal electronics and materials 60s boarded 150 tons to low Earth orbit. With minor enhancements by 2016 will easily climb to 200.

Nuclear reactor. Exploits of 70 years. One pound of fuel is rated as several Saturn V.Will provide the energy needed for the widget above which nothing else can provide.

This monster which is more than 1500 tons and under the water is practically &#1072;&#1089; in space it uses by 50 years.
Of course, all about the spaceship would be best, light and powerful. Where's the far fiction?

#### Mushtang

TRF Supporter
For comparison see the development in airplanes. Where are the Wright brothers, where the supersonic plane only 50 years later? The technology is here but not used.
Profit. Money. Competition.

The government developed the airplane and jet technology to be able to fight better against our enemies. We needed faster and higher planes, and so we had reason to invest and develop them.

Private companies saw benefit to be able to develop airlines for profit. There was a reason someone spent the time and money to create large jet planes, and that reason wasn't "because it would be cool".

Competition with the Soviet Union drove the USA to develop the Saturn V so we could be first to the moon. It wasn't because it would be cool, we needed to show the world that communism was stupid.

As Thirsty said, find an asteroid that contains 20 tons of diamond and someone will go get it ASAP. Of course that would reduce the value of diamonds but they'd still be useful.

SpaceX is trying to get to Mars, not because it's cool, but because Musk believes it will serve a purpose and he'll make money doing it.

The nuclear-powered spin gravity rocket with a laser attached to it's head doesn't exist because there hasn't been a reason for it to yet. But it sure would be cool if it did.

#### SaturnV

##### Well-Known Member
VASIMIR is for amateur rocketry.I'm talking about nuclear rocket engine at least 50 megawatts if 20 goes to the magnetic shield 20 for the laser and 10 for the needs of the ship.Without magnetic shield and laser and nuclear-engine I further than the International Space Station would not go. Neil Armstrong has seen how high energy particles pass through "ship" and it avoided solar flares and only 7-8 days in space.

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#### bobkrech

##### Well-Known Member
Of course, you can not see. You're ThirstyBarbarian. If you were SaturnV would wonder why it is not done 20 years ago. For comparison see the development in airplanes. Where are the Wright brothers, where the supersonic plane only 50 years later? The technology is here but not used.
Falcon 9 represent me as a miracle of engineering, and it is same the russian rocket which flew Gagarin 60 years ago.You can imagine that completely real ship that I have described can stop en route to unearth 20 tons diamonds from an asteroid which then shuttle to bring the earth?A Dragon capsule can bring two pounds of gravel &#1086;f Mars.It can not because there will be no fuel to return Long trips per person in space without nuclear engine magnetic shield against cosmic radiation and laser against micrometeorites are doomed to failure. Columbus discovered America on the ship not on the canoe.
The reason why it was not done 20 years ago, and the reason why it is unlikely to be done over the next twenty year, is quite simply the engineering technology is not there.

Concepts are wonderful but concepts don't fly. You have to be able to develop the engineering technology to convert the concepts into practical, reliable and economical hardware, and that has not happened, nor is it likely to happen in the foreseeable future.

The Russians have used modifications of the R-7 ICBM for their manned LV since 1961. Why? Because a LV is simply a bus with a 10 minute lifetime and once you know how to make it there is really no reason to change it. The engineering costs were expended 55 years ago and the current generation of Russian boosters have been made continuously on a production line for almost 6 decades.

Saturn's F-1 LOX/Kerosene engines were state of the art in the late 1960's. Not so today. Technology has left them far behind. The Russian RD-170/180 series of LOX/Kerosene motors are more advanced and less expensive to manufacture. The current LOX/Kerosene engines used by Space-X are even more economical to manufacture. Space-X has shown they can recover the first stage boosters routinely, however they have yet to prove they can be recycled economically. If they can be, it could reduce the cost to launch by 25% to 50% which is significant, but the verdict is still out and will not be known for several years.

No one has developed a high thrust nuclear or electric propulsion system for a manned spacecraft. Anything nuclear requires significant shielding for manned flights and the only long term efficient thrusters for deep space application are electric thrusters that will require electricity generated by nuclear power. It's going to be a long time before these systems will be developed because the justification for long distance manned space travel needs to be justified, and the systems to support those missions made with extreme reliability and redundancy.

No one has made a convincing economic argument on space mining of resources especially when all the materials mentioned are readily available on earth, regardless of the proponents claims. Diamonds are just not that rare and synthetic diamond is available for many industrial applications. The earth sourced materials are orders of magnitude less expensive than any space mining product is projected to be.

#### markkoelsch

##### Well-Known Member
Can someone explain to me how some engines that are 15-20 million dollars, some tanks and some electronics and pipes and suddenly the price jumped to \$ 2 billion?To me it seems that steal very much. Or is there an awful lot of people who receive money and do not work.
Are you naive? Engines, tanks, body, piping, electronics, research and development, assembly, and testing. Throw in the just about every part is so low in production volume to come close to being one off parts of incredible tolerance. Oh yes, another important thing- PROFIT.

Space X is doing it for less, but still expensive.

#### ThirstyBarbarian

##### Well-Known Member
I think if mankind does push out into the solar system, then some kind of nuclear-powered propulsion systems will eventually be needed. But from what I have read, it is not easy to make a nuclear reactor that works well in space. Nuclear reactors that power ships and subs have a great heat sink --- the ocean. Even land-based nuclear power plants use the ocean or rivers to dump off the heat. In order for reactors to work, they need to be able to dump a LOT of heat. In space that isn't so easy. There is nothing to conduct away heat, so you have to rely on radiating it away as infrared, and that isn't all that easy to do on the scale needed to run a reactor. The actual reactor itself may not be all that big, like on a submarine, but the shielding and the incredibly huge radiators to shed the heat will need to be massive.

#### boatgeek

##### Well-Known Member
The reason why it was not done 20 years ago, and the reason why it is unlikely to be done over the next twenty year, is quite simply the engineering technology is not there.

Concepts are wonderful but concepts don't fly. You have to be able to develop the engineering technology to convert the concepts into practical, reliable and economical hardware, and that has not happened, nor is it likely to happen in the foreseeable future.

The Russians have used modifications of the R-7 ICBM for their manned LV since 1961. Why? Because a LV is simply a bus with a 10 minute lifetime and once you know how to make it there is really no reason to change it. The engineering costs were expended 55 years ago and the current generation of Russian boosters have been made continuously on a production line for almost 6 decades.

Saturn's F-1 LOX/Kerosene engines were state of the art in the late 1960's. Not so today. Technology has left them far behind. The Russian RD-170/180 series of LOX/Kerosene motors are more advanced and less expensive to manufacture. The current LOX/Kerosene engines used by Space-X are even more economical to manufacture. Space-X has shown they can recover the first stage boosters routinely, however they have yet to prove they can be recycled economically. If they can be, it could reduce the cost to launch by 25% to 50% which is significant, but the verdict is still out and will not be known for several years.

No one has developed a high thrust nuclear or electric propulsion system for a manned spacecraft. Anything nuclear requires significant shielding for manned flights and the only long term efficient thrusters for deep space application are electric thrusters that will require electricity generated by nuclear power. It's going to be a long time before these systems will be developed because the justification for long distance manned space travel needs to be justified, and the systems to support those missions made with extreme reliability and redundancy.

No one has made a convincing economic argument on space mining of resources especially when all the materials mentioned are readily available on earth, regardless of the proponents claims. Diamonds are just not that rare and synthetic diamond is available for many industrial applications. The earth sourced materials are orders of magnitude less expensive than any space mining product is projected to be.
Lasers are a good example of the engineering problems of scaling up electronics. The US military has been working on effective shipborne and airborne for a couple of decades, but lasers have been well known for a very long time. It's just very challenging to take a 1 mW item and turn it into a 1 MW item. It's not just a matter of scaling up the power input.

The only reasonable asteroid mining business case I've seen is extracting water, cracking it to H2 and O2 with solar power, and selling it to ships traveling to Mars or the Moon. I think that's about the only way to make the cost of getting to orbit pay off.

#### dave carver

##### ....what hump?
Screw bringing that big diamond back to earth, why in the world would you want to do that? We need to expand, get off this giant ball of crap that incase you haven't noticed is filling up with people at a rapid rate. We must spread out because we're vulnerable to species extinction if this is the only place we are. We are in the window of the 65 million year meteor strike, that alone is reason enough for the expense and effort.

As far as a nuke solution there's the String Of Pearls where they detonate small bombs behind a thickly shielded spaceship, riding the blast wavefront.

One year at Black Rock way after midnight, standing on the playa under the grandest display of the Milky Way, I was in a small circle that included Frank Kosdon. The discussion was about near-light travel and how to achieve it. Frank lead a very interesting discussion on using anti-matter as a fuel to drive a spaceship. Someone piped up, "there is no anti-matter". Frank just said, "you don't think so?" and smiled

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