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Plan to colonize the moon and mars.

  1. Jun 21, 2010 #1
    I was recently thinking of a way to get to colonize mars and the moon and provide cheap travel between them, after building space infrastructure. First we put a von braun station in an eccentric orbit around the earth, Then when the station is closest to earth we take SSTO spaceplane and dock with the station. Then ride the elliptical orbit to the longest point of the semimajor axis. After that we take a small shuttle using VASIMR technology to a second station orbiting the moon. Then use an advanced lunar lander to get to the moons surface. Once on the moon build factories there to create more space infrastructure. In the long run it's cheaper to launch things off of the moon. I envision a future where the only things carried off of earth are humans. Then once you have a lunar industry going you can create an orbital shipyard to create a fleet of interplanetary spacecraft.

    Then we can reliably colonize the red planet. While we are colonizing the moon and building factories, stations, and spacecraft we could also utilize the mars to stay plan. the point being to establish a presense on the red planet while we build the infastrure required to make cheap reliable trips there possible. Now the interplanetary ships to get to mars and back would use centerfuges to simulate gravity on the 39 day voyage much liek the centerfuge used on the von braun stations. Also when they get to mars they will need to use a mars lander due to the fact that VASIMR powered craft can only operate in space and does not have suiable thrust to escape a planet's or moon's gravity.

    Now I know that to dock with a station you need to be in the same orbital path, but the point is to be able to live on the station.
    its cheaper then building a SSTO spaceplane that has two different engines and can create artificial gravity. Another problem is that
    taking off from the station that far away from earth might deorbit it. You would need a VASIMR engine to keep it stable. This technology
    is already in the works, NASA plans on testing the VASIMR on the ISS in 2012.


    Pros
    1.Everything is reusable once the project is completed
    2.Much cheaper in the long run.
    3.It will allow reliable cheap travel to the moon and eventually mars.
    4. The VASIMR shuttle only needs solar power and argon to function in earth to moon distances.

    Cons
    1.Large upfront cost.
    2.You need to devolp new advanced nuclear technology to power the interplanetary ships.

    Links:
    VASIMR:http://www.adastrarocket.com/aarc/
    Mars to stay:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_to_Stay
    Von braun stations:http://www.astronautix.com/craft/vonation.htm


    is this a feasible plan assuming you get proper funding?

    Also I am 16 years old
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 21, 2010 #2

    sophiecentaur

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    I can't really imagine that we could ever afford to 'colonise' in any real sense - bearing in mind that humans can't even make efficient or responsible use of what they have on Earth. The cost of maintaining any sizeable human presence on the Moon or Mars would be enormous and self sufficiency is unlikely.
    It's not going to be a re-run of the Wild West / New World colonisation. The situation is far different.

    My personal fave is the 'space elevator' as a low cost (energy) method for getting out into a suitable orbit for serious space exploration.
     
  4. Jun 21, 2010 #3
    How do you plan on building that?
     
  5. Jun 21, 2010 #4
    The space elevator can't work unless the mass flow is a net zero up and down. You need to impart a huge transverse momentum as you climb. (surely this has been adressed in this forum already I hope.)
     
  6. Jun 21, 2010 #5
    Yes but what do you think of my plan?
     
  7. Jun 21, 2010 #6
    I think it's a fantastic plan.
     
  8. Jun 21, 2010 #7
    Thank you! Anyways i was thinking the only way for it to be properly funded if it became A massive international project.
     
  9. Jun 21, 2010 #8

    Integral

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    Great idea, but you need to do it commercially, not as a govt project.


    Start rasing $$$
     
  10. Jun 21, 2010 #9
    How can the private sector raise that much? One von braun station will cost more then the ISS.
     
  11. Jun 21, 2010 #10

    russ_watters

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    Welcome to PF, and it is good that you are thinking about this kind of thing at your age.

    The basic flaw in your plan is that in an orbit, the energy is always the same, it is just passed back betwen potential and kinetic. So there is no benefit in hitting a space station when it is in a low point in its orbit: it is traveling faster so the rocket still needs to be the same size to catch it.

    The idea of industry based on the moon isn't bad, but the startup costs are huge.
     
  12. Jun 21, 2010 #11
    "The idea of industry based on the moon isn't bad, but the startup costs are huge"

    I know but we need to actually put a lot of effort and money into it or we can never get anywhere is space

    "The basic flaw in your plan is that in an orbit, the energy is always the same, it is just passed back betwen potential and kinetic. So there is no benefit in hitting a space station when it is in a low point in its orbit: it is traveling faster so the rocket still needs to be the same size to catch it."

    Thank you for the information, but the eccentric orbit wasn't a key part to my plan. The main point is that having to build a hyper advanced SSTO spaceplane that can get from the earth to the moon and mars is highly unrealistic. I think its better to make 3 separate vehicles to get where you need to go. A small VASIMR shuttle, LEO ssto spaceplane, and interplanetary craft is much more feasible/cheaper then the alternative.
     
  13. Jun 21, 2010 #12
    Hi Scia! Nice post, you obviously are tracking a lot of the enabling technologies and have some understanding of orbital mechanics and other practical matters of space flight. And of course, as for all of us, there is a lot you do not know. But your plan is impressive to me at your stage of learning.

    One of the first things you will learn about proposing space infrastructure is that it will always be you against the world. It sucks, but that is the way space enthusiasts are. We all want the same goal but there are as many plans to make it happen as there are planners.

    I exaggerate, but only slightly.

    I have a plan as well. Guess what, it's a lot different than yours, go figure. I could spend my time telling you why yours won't work or telling everybody about my plan, but I have learned that being that way is no fun in the end.

    But you did ask if your plan is feasible. (That is not just brave on your part but shows confidence and humility.) So I'll throw a couple of darts at it.

    Every plan starts with a first step, and if I really want to grill someone on their space plan, all I have to do is keep asking them what the first step is. What is really really hard about space planning IME is having a good enough strategy/approach/philosophy that the answer falls out without too many contrivances.

    So "First we build a von Braun station" doesn't work for me. Lots of things have to happen before that. How do you get the building materials up there, and how do you do construction in zero g on that scale? What is the first step in terms of not just enabling that, but assuming you have the capability and funding to get your stuff to LEO, what is the first payload? What is the development sequence after that?

    Many people who have looked at this see ISRU (In Situ Resource Utilization) as the key strategy. You are likely familiar with it but your plan seems to skip it. I suppose that is because you put most of your infrastructure in orbit and not in gravity wells (the moon). If that is the case, what I would suggest is to incorporate orbital refueling depots in LEO and EML1 (Earth-Moon Lagrange point 1). That is what IMO will be needed to establish true spacecraft - vehicles that stay in space all the time - as well as lunar landers.

    Also be aware that many people who want to get to Mars do not want to be bothered with using the Moon as a staging or proving ground, and that their arguments are potent.

    Anyway, I hope you keep working on your plan. Don't let anybody tell you you're wasting your time, because you're not. If people are prevented from dreaming big dreams at your age, our society will completely forget how to dream big altogether, which IMO would amount to a betrayal of all the generations that came before us.
     
  14. Jun 21, 2010 #13
    Very helpful piece of advice. My plan is of course only in its infancy. I honestly have no idea how to build a von braun station, and thats the type of problems i want to tackle.

    and i want to use the moon only to make the colonization of mars easier over the long term.
     
  15. Jun 21, 2010 #14
    Cool, I have no argument on either of those foundational positions, if I am reading you correctly: 1) we will need a spin-gravity ship to regularly travel interplanetary, and 2) To the extent that one claims to use the moon to help get to Mars, it needs to actually help, and not just be a drain on resources.

    You know about Bigelow, right? Rather than a toroidal wheel, I expect we are looking at attaching the BA-330 units to tethers or trusses and spinning the whole works to get our so-called artificial gravity (I prefer to call it spin-gravity, not artificial). IMO it is critical that we get started on orbital spin-gravity research, until then humans in space are an exercise in deterioration of your people.

    My plan is mostly about exploiting the moon as a playground for mankind and I do not pretend that it will do a heck of a lot for the folks going to Mars. The Red Planet is about pure exploration as well as becoming space-faring. For me, the Moon can also provide the destination needed to establish us as a 'space-faring species' but when one looks at the resource exploitation angle along with the exploration to be done, the situation seems bleak.

    But the moon does have one huge resource to exploit: the chance to live and work in an exotic environment. Being there, even if only remotely at first: telepresence.

    Did you know that if you had a big enough facility, with an Earth-normal atmosphere, you could strap on wings and fly like a bird?

    That's right, I want to build a lunar dome the size of a sports arena. It would be a resort/casino/retirement home/playground/research base and more.

    In my view, after extended study, the NEOs (Near Earth Objects) are for resources, the Moon is for fun, and Mars is about exploration and science.

    Don't knock fun as a driving force. It is a different mind-set than the 100% science perspective NASA has established, but fun is what grew the internet and all the industries it spawned.
     
  16. Jun 21, 2010 #15
    the is cheaper in the long run because its a pain in the *** to make large spaceships and put them into orbit. At earth the atmosphere slows you down and it has 6* the amount of gravity on the moon. On the moon we could just use a mass driver and shot the parts of the interplanetary ship into orbit, then constucte the ships at the lunar station. Then off to mars.
     
  17. Jun 22, 2010 #16
    Well the problem with launching from the moon is that it all pretty much had to be brought there in the first place, when you could have just sent it to Mars directly. To the extent that you can make finished products and materials from the Moon you can make exceptions, but developing enough manufacturing capability to do that in a big way is a long long development path. The Mars guys are not willing to wait for that to happen, nor should they be asked to IMO.

    You are absolutely correct that we are going to have to do orbital assembly and construction if we are going to have large scale interplanetary craft, whether it is done in LEO or L-1. But the more efficient alternative for going to Mars is LEO construction, with the critical addition of orbital refueling.
     
  18. Jun 22, 2010 #17
    I suggest an experiment. Strand 10 people in the Antarctic. The arctic is an inhospitable place, but far balmier and breathable than Mars, so we'll give them this longer period of non-support than some intrepid Mars colonists might expect.

    Give them all the survival gizmos one could expect for a colonization effort with expectations on return of investment. The cost per pound would be what, $10,000, $100,000 $500,000 for a trip to Mars? After 10 years we can visit the Antarctic survivors and see if they came up with anything useful to justify the price tag would all their stuff have been transferred to Mars instead of Antarctica.
     
  19. Jun 22, 2010 #18

    sophiecentaur

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    Could you elaborate please?
    My thoughts are as follows.
    Clearly the angular momentum of a mass rotating at Earth radius would change if its angular velocity stays the same and its radius increases. This would involve a force that drags the distant tethered mass 'backwards', initially. But wouldn't this just cause an oscillation (upside down pendulum motion) which could be used to the advantage of the next load on the way up or to provide a slingshot effect when you want to launch when you get to the top?
    In matters like this, it is Energy that counts, ultimately, and there is no doubt that a lot of energy would be involved - just a lot, lot less, per launch, than using rockets.
     
  20. Jun 22, 2010 #19
    But in my plan we utilize the "mars to stay" plan to go directly to mars. That because I want something to be there when we finally get regular interplanetary flights
     
  21. Jun 22, 2010 #20

    sophiecentaur

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    What would be the purpose of your flight, sir?
     
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