February 07, 2020

The Backup Plan is Proceeding Apace

With all the challenging things in the news lately, One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes has brought us news on one of the more appealing contingency plans...


She notes that Elon Musk currently has crews working 24/7 on his Starship prototype with the aim of beginning sub-orbital flights in March.

The FCC permit has already been applied for.

Art via Teslarati

While Musk's main focus is Mars, he has also been looking towards the moon, initially with a planned 2023 circumlunar flight, and Luna has always figured in Musk's Mars plan.. The moon is much closer and has attracted his attention with regards to ice and as a secondary destination. it's a week away as opposed to six months to a year, and a good place to test stuff for Mars. There is also a lot of science potential there obviously.

While there's very little on the moon worth mining and bringing to earth it's dirt is practically MADE of Iron, Oxygen, and Aluminum and there are extensive deposits of Chromium. Musk has gone to great lengths to remove exotic materials from his toolkit to facilitate field repairs and his structural components tend to be made of stainless steel and aluminum. The moon has everything but nickle and carbon for stainless steel which can be as little as 0.8% carbon by weight. In the highly unlikely event no carbonaceous chondrites have impacted on the moon, or has been baked out carbon can be provided by the carbonaceous not-quite-moons like Cruithne, and Yorp, which could also provide nitrogen and phosphorus. Nickle almost certainly exists in viable ammounts in the larger craters, which were, of course, created by meteors. While, it's unknown if there are spectacular glaciers on the moon like there are on Mercury, there is known to be a good deal of water at the poles.

The moon has a vast uninhabited area, and NO ECOSYSTEM, so one could, as an extreme example, use unshielded nuclear reactors on the surface for smelting stuff, so it's a perfect industrial park for expanding space projects.

Some people seem confident enough that they're already measuring the drapes.

Brian Wang over at NBF notes that Musk is looking to run out these rocket's life cycle on launches to the cis-lunar destinations and then gathere those near the end of their lives for the Martian Launch Window every two years. These large convoys would have the advantage of proximity to one another in the event of any mishap. Obviously one would not send that many people to Mars until the local infrastructure such as habitats (and, if necessary gravitrons) have been developed to accept several thousand people.

Given the numbers Musk is talking about, a typical convoy might have 50-100 ships, most on a one way trip so, 5-10,000 people every two years after about a decade of building habitats. This would immediately push Martian population into a biologically sustainable levels, especially if the population were of varied races and ethnicities. After a decade the population might be 50,000 without factoring births, which is way more than Liechtenstein, and almost as much as the Cayman Islands. 

We here at Brickmuppet Blog are more in the Dandridge Cole, Gerard O'Neal camp, favoring large space habitats over outposts on planets or moons, but the advantages of having a large (planet's worth) of resources handy is probably a good advantage at the start of this endeavor. There's a lot to do there as well and the first step is the moon.

Art by Sam Taylor. buy Full rez Posters and other art from him Here!

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 10:46 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 Not sure that prioritizing diversity in the colonizing population is terribly wise. That didn't work well in the Balkans. Cultural compatibility would be essential, and that often entails quite a bit of racial similarity as well (yes, people of different races can and do share common cultures, but given how much race-baiting goes on nowadays, why invite trouble?).
I like the O'Neill Cylinder/Bishop Ring architecture too, especially as mass-production would allow every group that wanted it it's own little worldlet. Some would prefer racial/ethnic/religious uniformity, while others might adopt a more multi-racial/cultural immigration model. This would be interesting as a massive, voluntary, social experiment.

Posted by: jabrwok at Fri Feb 7 12:05:13 2020 (wKZS0)

2 Well yes. I'm not at all suggesting outright affirmative action as much as drawing from a genetically diverse pool of fairly like minded freedom loving people, here in America, just about everyone not a blue blood is a mutt of some sort already.  Most of the Anglosphere as a whole would do nicely.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Fri Feb 7 12:29:00 2020 (5iiQK)

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