It’s been a long time since I posted on This Orbital Life. I want to thank Liam for keeping this blog going with his fantastic Voices from L5 podcast. We pride ourselves on having a diversity of opinions. While I disagree with many of its conclusions and it’s socialist slant, I’m proud to host Voices from L5. The space community is small and occasionally becomes an echo chamber or, at best, a discussion forum defined by two poles. For example – do we go to the Moon or Mars? Do we support government or commercial space? Even if one disagrees with the opinions of its host or its guests, Voices from L5 explores entirely new aspects of space settlement beyond that which is normally heard in the space policy and development world. And for that reason alone it is extremely valuable. By entertaining a diversity of ideas our community will be stronger and do a better job persuading others of the benefits of space settlement. Thank you Liam, keep it up.
Ok I realize I may have been a bit harsh yesterday when I wrote that government developed rocketships are insane. And when I called the Space Shuttle a failed experiment in reusability. While that last phrase is technically true, it does not reflect the full, positive impact of the Space Shuttle program. Without it we wouldn’t have been able to build the ISS, we couldn’t have launched (and fixed!) the Hubble Space Telescope, and we couldn’t have done a million other amazing things in space. So, to show my appreciation for the shuttle, here is an awesome video of a bunch of launches.
I particularly like this video for its depiction of the crowds watching the launches. Check out the Mission Control guy pumping his fist at 41 seconds, the crowd going nuts around 5:15, the lady wiping away her tear at 5:45 and the crowd cheering at the end near 7:25. Anyone who has ever seen a rocket launch knows how emotional and exciting it is. Hope you enjoy!
This Orbital Life is a website dedicated to exploring the possibilities of orbital space settlement. What the heck is orbital space settlement? Click the START HERE button above to learn more!
Congratulations to Boeing and SpaceX for winning Commercial Crew contracts! And a thousand condolences to Sierra Nevada – we here at MSR hope the Europeans and Japanese can keep the lifting body idea alive because the more competition, the faster launch costs will fall.
Speaking of competition, congratulations to NASA for keeping two companies in the mix. Now onward to 2017 and the first launches – can’t wait to see astronauts on American launchers again!
Had a kid. Got back from lots of international travel. Moved. It’s been a busy few months. But lots of things have been cooking here at MSR:
– Fiction: Two novels are in the works. One is at about 30,000 words, the other is just an outline. Both are super cool. Keep checking in here for updates and excerpts.
– Possible Kickstarter campaign: frustrated with the lack of progress in space development? Soon the geniuses here at Marotta Space Research will have a way for you to get involved!
So stay tuned! Lots to come as we enter Autumn here at MSR.
Let’s hope this thing works…
Marotta Space Research is communicating with some like minded folks and they’ve inspired a new design. Here is a sneak peek. Modular. Flexible. Illustration includes the “main street” in a potential “city in space” i.e. the “buildings” or modules are not pictured here. Major revisions underway. Stay tuned!
Doris Hamill, in her presentation entitled PISCES: Settling the Near Space Frontier argues that the government has not yet completed its investment in “near space” i.e. LEO to GEO orbital bands. NASA ought to leverage its experience with Shuttle and Station to build a sustainable legacy in near space. This legacy should take the form of a “Permanent In-Space Center for Expandable Services” i.e. a city in space that can host numerous different uses and users. Sound familiar? In short, she is arguing that the federal government should build a city in space to catalyze sustainable, long-term private economic growth in space. Just like governments do on Earth.
In the comments, someone argued that this job is better suited to the private sector. Ms Hamill responded by essentially saying that if the private sector could have done it, they would have already done it. The reason they haven’t is because the business case won’t close yet i.e. the private sector can’t make money on building space stations yet. Don’t tell that to Bigelow. She argues that only the government sector can afford to build cities in space.
So the private sector can’t afford to do it. The government sector doesn’t want to do it because they’re distracted by asteroids and Mars. What about the non-profit sector? Could a non-profit build a city in space to catalyze long term space settlement?
As alluded to in earlier posts, Marotta Space Research is working on a conceptual design for the next generation of space stations. Here is what we have so far:
More to come soon!
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I’ve created a handy calculator to test different assumptions about how a space hotel might be constructed and operate in a low Earth orbit at 28 degrees inclination. One can change different variables to test different configurations and cost scenarios. Variables include number of guests and crew, costs to launch the hotel, costs to construct the hotel, mass per person, and habitable volume per person. Results include total capital cost, annual revenue, annual expenses and annual profit. It’s a crude tool but it is based on solid assumptions about how such a hotel might be constructed and operate. Thus it is useful and illuminating. I may share some of my conclusions in a later post. A screenshot is available here and one can download the actual spreadsheet using the link below. Enjoy!