Modern humanity is on the verge of transition in the space age, but instead to make decisive steps in the new space, continues to stagnate uncertainly at his doorstep.
The upcoming space expansion promises to bring with it a new civilizational growth, the consequences of which may seem fantastic right now. As well as the level of modern civilization as the result of naval expansion and the technological revolution of the past, it would have seemed a miracle inhabitant of medieval Europe. Space is available for modern transport, the other planets are studied terrestrial probes, develops practical space exploration satellites, the power of the world economy makes it possible to start the colonization of space at any time, but space colonization does not begin or even suggested in the near future. And the main obstacle in its way, it’s not the high cost of space flight, and the absence of a viable strategy,
I can suggest a new scenario for the space industry, the level of technology available and suitable in terms of economy, able to direct the expansion of the global industrial system for the ends of the earth, and give a start to the beginning of the space age in the next decades. This scenario assumes a gradual, multi-step transition from modern satellite industry to space colonies of the future. He has no such constraints as the sverhzatratnye non-commercial projects, or the need to use inaccessible technologies. Its main advantage is not in the technology and in new methods of coordination of activities, more flexible and adapted to the specific conditions of space. His ultimate goal is not the creation of individual bases on the Moon or Mars,
Eve and the beginning of the space age.
People’s desire for space exploration came together with an awareness of the fact that the earth is not the center of the universe, but a grain of sand in the cosmic ocean, flying, surrounded by countless stars and planets, somewhat similar to the land, but special and unique worlds.
The first concept of space flight, were speculative and more adventure than scientific. For space flight was supposed to use balloons or powerful cannon. Then, the very possibility of flight beyond the earth seemed to be something fantastic and extraordinary.
At the beginning of the last century there were the first evidence-based concept in which the possibility of space flight and space expansion prospects were calculated. In Russia, the first theorist to astronautics Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857 – 1935), who proposed to fly into space to use chemical rockets with liquid fuel, the modern type. And developed a theory of cosmic civilization. In Europe, projects were studied interplanetary missions “British Interplanetary Society.” Proposed in the 1937 draft flight to the moon with the help of a powerful missile solid fuel.
During the Second World War, the Germans developed the first ballistic missile – “Fau -2” chief designer of which was “Werner Fonbraun”. After the war, there was a nuclear weapon. Ballistic missiles are ideal as a carrier of nuclear warheads, which prompted the largest countries in the rapid development of missile technology. After the war Fonbraun emigrated to the US, where he became the general designer of rockets in America. The SSR chief designer was a follower of Tsiolkovsky “Sergey Korolev”.
In the Soviet Union under the leadership of the Queen, the first powerful intercontinental missile, which is designed as a carrier of the hydrogen bomb, but was used for the first space flight has been developed. This missile is still commercially available, and is now called the “Union”, is used for flights to the ISS.
In the US, Russian successes prompted the government to strengthen its national space programs. Which led to the beginning of the space race between the USSR and the USA, which lasted until the end of the eighties and significantly accelerate progress in rocket and space technology. The pinnacle of the American space, were a series of manned flights to the moon, for “Apollo” program, and reusable space transportation system “Space Shuttle”, closed in 2011.
The first space flight caused a great deal of interest, and with a lot of breakthrough achievements and loud statements first decades of the space race created the illusion that space colonization is in sight. Government space agencies, to send people into orbit and to the moon, will soon begin to establish permanent bases on the Moon and other, more ambitious steps in the development of extraterrestrial space. But with the weakening of the space race began to weaken and interest of government agencies to a qualitatively new space programs. Progress in astronautics began to slow down.
It is now becoming clear that government programs are not in themselves capable of leading to a qualitatively new steps in the development of astronautics. Going to space colonization by government agencies was not originally intended. They used the space program only as a means of strengthening the political and public prestige. In addition, the budget financing for large-scale space exploration simply not enough, it is enough only for research. Therefore, in the last decade has sharply increased interest in the projects of practical space exploration.
Commercial space exploration projects.
Commercial projects, in contrast to the budget do not require artificial – “mobilization” of funding, they evolve by natural inflow of money from private corporations and industry. But the main difference between commercial projects is not in the fact that they reduce government spending. In the end, it is not so important who will establish the first bases in the space of the state or a corporation. And the fact that commercial projects designed to extract direct benefits, and therefore able to attract new investments to its further development. Investment attractiveness of private projects, able to provide them with rapid growth, on the principle of a snowball. The larger the project develops, the more it attracts money in its further development, and so on, until there is a surfeit of the market or the exhaustion of resources.
The growth potential and the transfer of process fluid from the earth into space, making commercial projects potentially able to create the basis for future space colonies. You can imagine the state database project on a different planet, which is used to research and demonstrate the capabilities of mankind. But it is difficult to imagine that in place of the demonstration bases in dozens of years to grow space city with a large population, infrastructure and production plants. State funding is never enough. But if the private base, and it is used for production of some useful resources, its proliferation in the colony does not seem improbable.
The first public projects served to test the potential of activities outside the earth and scientific purposes. But the demonstration and scientific expeditions did not allow to pass to a larger activity. Therefore, the interest of society to the practical goals of space exploration and commercial projects capable of creating reference points for the development of future space colonies and start the process of further colonization of extraterrestrial space.
In space, a lot of space and a variety of resources, but now practically only used the near-Earth space. Most satellite altitude is used for communication over long distances and areas, and to monitor the earth’s surface. Satellites and earth sensing, form the basis of a global satellite constellation. Commercial space industry information services is now one of the fastest growing areas of the housekeeper, its total turnover is about 300, 400 billion dollars a year and continues to grow rapidly.
The satellite industry has a firm place in the economy and land information system, but to develop some space satellites can not. Satellites is automatic, firmly attached to their orbits and narrow the field of information services. In fact, satellites, is an appendage of the earth’s information system. The satellite industry is not designed for a variety of activities in and of itself, it can not serve as a means to build space colonies. It successfully solves the problem of practical industrialization of near-Earth space, but does not allow the start of human expansion beyond the borders of the technosphere. To start a full-fledged space colonization is necessary to the development of new directions.
In the last decade, we began actively pursuing promising projects related to the development of mineral resources of space.
Such raw, projects have been in the past. In the Soviet Union, it was the titanium mining project on the moon, in the United States, the project, the construction of the orbital solar power produced on the moon metals. But, because of the high costs, production in the consumer space materials is not cost-effective. Titanium, steel, aluminum or delivered from the moon on the earth, would be gold. The use of lunar materials for the construction of a variety of objects in orbit, it may be advantageous, due to the relative simplicity of the launch from the moon. But the development of this direction would require enormous cost, without the possibility of return on investment quickly. such projects have not received practical development.
Modern resource projects, especially designed for the extraction of raw materials, the high price of which does justify the cost of space transport. This extraction of precious metals and rare earth elements on asteroids, or radioactive materials in the moon.
The platinum group metals and rare earth elements are widely used in the manufacture of electronics, computers, cell phones, chips. The electronic industry is growing rapidly and the world’s reserves of rare earth elements are depleted. Large corporations are concerned about shortage of rare metals have started to finance projects in their mining on asteroids. Asteroids, the content of precious metals higher than the earth, and their reserves are almost unlimited.
It is also widely known for NASA project related to isotope production “Helium – 3” of the lunar soil. When the fusion burn this isotope released significantly less radioactive particles, which gives hope to clean nuclear power in the future. Helium industrial mining project – 3 very costly and long-term, it has many drawbacks. But this is one of the officially recognized as promising areas of practical space exploration.
Known resource projects make it possible to cost-effective production of some extraterrestrial resources. The transition to the development of commercial space exploration extraterrestrial mineral resources will give her an undeniable advantage. But the shortcomings of these projects is the fact that this new field of activity is not related to the already developed space industry. Industrial system working in this direction is still there, and, consequently, bringing to the practical implementation will require a lot of time and financial costs. And, besides, the extraction of raw materials, it is a fairly narrow area of activity in the global economy. And by itself it does not quickly begin a large-scale colonization of space. Although it may be the next step on the way to it.
The concept of space exploration through the development of an extraterrestrial industrial system.
I can suggest a new direction of practical space exploration that can be an alternative to the accepted raw materials projects and give a start to the development of the space industry in the near future.
This trend is an alternative to the accepted future projects. And unlike them, can lead to a more rapid and large-scale development of space activities, with a view to further transition to full-scale commercial development of space. The economic basis of the proposed development scenario is not extraction of raw materials and the development of technological activity and transport infrastructure outside the ground. Linked together in a single space industrial system. Although commodity projects are also included in it, but they play a supporting role.
The main practical function prospective industrial group, is launched into orbit operating, installation and maintenance of commercial satellites. It should be a kind of superstructure over existing satellite constellation, using it as the basis for the development of new areas of space activities. Such as maintenance of traffic, installation, repair and maintenance work outside the ground. The development of space production and development of extraterrestrial resources.
Industrial grouping are a few major infrastructure projects. The project launch system, allows to reduce the cost to orbit cargo clearance. Project constant orbital transport system, consisting of reusable transport ships. The project resource base on the moon, which serves to provide a constellation of fuel and raw materials. And the project of commercial low-Earth orbital station, which serves the main center of all activities, and the main support base of the near-Earth space.
Infrastructure removal system.
Modern missiles media is expensive, high-tech machines, but they used a one-off, and their cost is entirely goes into the cost of start-up. From an economic point of view, it is not effective, the cost of removing the most profitable carriers serial, is from 3 to 7 thousand dollars per kilogram. An alternative to traditional media, are considered to be promising reusable launch vehicles and advanced ships of various types, with more efficient engines. But reusable comes at a price, reusable devices rescue tools create large additional weight above their level of processability disposable. As a result, the cost increases and efficiency decreases. The only serial reusable carrier space shuttle, was several times more expensive than disposable rockets similar capacity. The use of more efficient engines doubtful right now is not present for this technology. In addition, the price of fuel is not the biggest share of costs in the total cost of removal. Rockets consume a lot of fuel, but for the price, it is only a few percent of the start-up cost. The main share of the costs in the production of missiles, it is not the price of materials and fuel, and technology costs.
The most logical way to reduce the cost of the missile, this decrease in their level of adaptability. But the simplification of the basic systems invariably entail a reduction of the main characteristics of the missiles. Engine power, precision and autonomous control systems that make missiles less effective, reducing to zero the price advantage.
The proposed elimination me, specialized, easy and cheap, simplified media – “Pony”, should work in conjunction with the space station, performing the transport and assembly of the terminal function, “orbital spaceport.” compensating disadvantages carrier.
Unlike traditional launch vehicles that put satellites into their operational orbit one start, with space propulsion, “upper stage”. The carrier should output pony satellites in part, in the form of light, standardized modular units, delivering the blocks to the space station. After that, the station of the units must be mounted in ready to use satellites or other spacecraft. By the same principle, which are arranged on modern orbital stations, such as MKS, collected from a plurality of individual modules and external support structures. Due to this, the simplification of missiles and reducing their carrying capacity, does not lead to loss of functionality. After assembly on orbital stations,
Specialized, simplified media – “Pony”, has simplified the engines and control systems. In this rocket engines, high-tech turbine pumps replaced with fuel delivery by the displacement of the pressurized gas tanks. To control the missile, instead of an autonomous “Inertial” system orientation in space, and on-board electronics, to be used remote control-oriented terrestrial and orbital beacons.
“Size exclusion” fuel system reduces the power of the rocket engine and to the load 100 – 1000, a kilogram, depending on the modification. Remote control system deprives autonomous vehicle in flight, tethering it to the audio path from ground launch site, to orbital space port. But the main task of the media pony, is the delivery of modular units to the space station. High capacity and autonomy are not necessary.
The advantages of the carrier Pony, is the fact that it is simple and cheap to manufacture. Just this one light rocket fired in the series, can replace almost the entire fleet of modern vehicles, taking on the role of the main “workhorse” of the satellite industry. Pony carrier do not need expensive spaceports. Due to the minimalism and simplicity, it can be quickly and cheaply be upgraded.
Pony carrier must start using the reusable first stage, similar to the side accelerators modern missiles or winged rocket plane, similar to the “X – 33”, depending on the modification. Reusable first stage will increase the efficiency of these missiles without significant additional costs. Since salvation suborbital vehicles much easier task than the return of reusable devices from orbit.
Fuel tanks Pony carrier should be made from recycled plastic and in the organic fuel in orbital stations, by distillation in solar furnaces.
Media pony, rocket, optimally adapted to its primary task of ensuring continuous traffic flow from earth to space stations at a minimum cost. Orbital stations, performing the function of the space port, will become part of breeding system and will receive a portion of profits from the launch services. What will make a manned space program cost-effective, removing its dependence on public funding.
Orbital transport fleet.
For flight in outer space should be used orbital, infrastructure transport system, which is based on reusable transport vehicles with economical “plasma”, “electrorocket” engines.
Now to fly in space is used mainly orbital stages – “booster unit” chemical fuel, like stage launch vehicles. Chemical rockets have a lot of power, but consume a lot of fuel. Missiles carriers outputted to orbit only 3 – 5% of the starting weight. Boosters for removing satellites in high orbit or interplanetary trajectory fuel consumption by weight, is several times greater than weighing the payload they carry. That is, during injection into high orbit, the bulk cargo to be delivered into space, we have not on the device, and fuel tanks.
Using chemical boosters not economically efficient for orbital hops. Withdrawal satellites into high orbit through them several times increases the cost of start-up. And, besides, chemical engines in orbital space is severely limited freedom of movement. Their capacity is sufficient to bring the satellite into a working orbit or escape trajectories probe to another planet, but to fly freely in space on these engines is virtually impossible. All stocked on board the fuel leaves only a single injection into the desired orbit or trajectory.
For the development of high-grade transportation in space, definitely need a more fuel-efficient engines. Chemical engines are used to remove from the earth. Missiles, to enter the orbit of a large power is required, otherwise the missile will not be able to lift your own weight. But in orbit in space weightlessness, high power is not needed, and from chemical engines can be abandoned in favor of more fuel-efficient.
For flights in weightlessness are best engines “electrorocket” type. Which create a jet momentum is not due to the chemical reaction of the combustion energy of fuel and oxidizer, and due to external electric energy supplied in the form of electric current from solar or nuclear generators. In engines with an external power supply, the fuel does not burn, and is used as the neutral “working fluid” that heats or accelerates shock.
Now in space are used electrorocket engines “Ion” type. They are electrically charged atoms “ions” of the working body are accelerated in an electrostatic field. Ion engines are economical, but they are very thin, their thrust is less than a gram, and radically improve their capacity is not possible due to the nature of the structure. Ion engines power sufficient for planetary exploration stations that fly over the years, or correction of the orbit satellites. But they are not suitable for transport ships.
We are currently actively developing more powerful and long-lasting “plasma” electric propulsion. In plasma engines working fluid heated to a high temperature and changes its state to gas, the electrically conductive – “Plasma”. Due to the electric conductivity, the plasma can be controlled by magnetic fields. In engines, the plasma jet is held in a magnetic field, without contact with their internal walls. The plasma also may further accelerate the pulsating magnetic field, which allows to increase exhaust velocity without increasing the temperature of the working fluid.
The construction of plasma thrusters does not limit their capacity, it is possible to increase as much as power supplies allow. A modern film solar cells allow to obtain quite high power with low weight. In addition, plasma engines are more convenient to use. Their thickness can vary widely, which allows to obtain an optimal ratio of thrust and fuel consumption. Due to the fact that the working fluid does not come into contact with parts of the engine, these engines are durable and undemanding to fuel choice. Working fluid for plasma engines can be any available agent components conventional chemical propellant, water, liquid or gases.
Plasma engines have all the necessary features for advanced propulsion transport ships. They are powerful, cost-effective, multi-fuel, capable of operating in different modes, which allows to increase or reduce the traction fuel consumption if necessary. Orbital tugs equipped with these engines will become universal spaceships that can refuel any available fuel and fly freely in space.
Cost-orbital tugs will enable cost-effectively bring to the working orbit satellites delivered into space in-line, through the transport mounting space station. Tugs also enable the delivery of satellites into the station for maintenance and repair. By linking all the near-Earth space group into a single unit, using an inexpensive and permanent transportation. In the future, the tugs will help establish a permanent transport bridges to other planets and the asteroid belt. That will make it possible to develop the constellation due to space resources and build alien base, at relatively low cost.
Modern orbital transport system essentially disposable and very costly, only enough to remove satellites or one-time research missions. But orbital tugs will operate as a permanent and inexpensive orbital transport fleet, based on which mankind will be able to explore outer space on a large scale and on an ongoing basis.
Moon dust as the fuel space.
After commissioning the first orbital tugs, fuel for them is output from the ground. But with the further development of the orbital transport infrastructure will be beneficial not deliver fuel from the ground and from space. Engines orbital tugs will be cost-effective, and transport fuel from one orbit to another is much cheaper than print it from the ground.
Although plasma engines will consume fuel in the 3 – 15 times more economical than chemical, with the massive development of the orbital transport systems, the total fuel consumption will amount to tens or hundreds of tons. The cost of removing the fuel from the ground will be quite noticeable even on space standards.
At the same time there is the moon close to the ground. The planet is located in the orbital space and land on its low gravity. Due to the low gravity removal of cargo into orbit with the moon, it is much simpler and cheaper than from the ground. The cost of transportation of raw materials moon into orbit plasma tugs will be small. And because of the proximity of the moon flights between lunar and Earth Orbit does not take much time.
By creating fuel base on the moon, you can get an inexpensive source of fuel for the constellation and to launch a number of new areas of space activities. Start commercial use of extraterrestrial resources, create a business case development and the moon to create the first source of supply space grouping independent of the land. All this to the next steps of space colonization, although in the early stages of their magnitude will be small. But any big deal starts with small steps. The main thing is to start moving in the right direction.
The adopted plans for a fuel bases on the moon, involves the production of liquid fuels. Such as liquid oxygen, water, fuel or chemical vapor “Oxygen – H ‘obtained by decomposition of water at the initial elements.
Oxygen may be produced from moon soil by its high heat or chemical decomposition. Oxygen may be used as an oxidizing agent for chemical engines or working fluid for plasma engines. Water can be obtained from water ice deposits near the lunar poles. Decomposing water into its components, hydrogen and oxygen, can be prepared to couple chemical engines. Besides these components can serve as a working fluid for electric propulsion. As well as liquid water without decomposition.
Existing technologies allow to receive the liquid fuel on the moon, but its production requires a lot of energy. Water extraction need another source of ice that are rare on the moon, and not very abundant, estimated ice content in the lunar soil deposits in the region of 10%. Deposits of water ice on the moon are located in polar regions is inconvenient for orbital transportation systems. And not the fact that they are readily available, the ice may be buried under a thick layer of soil. The liquid fuel stored in a complicated space conditions, especially “Cryogenic” low-boiling, liquefied gases.
My scenario involves using as the main fuel for orbital tugs solid lunar soil as a fine flowing powder.
Plasma engines orbital tugs potentially multifuel. They are able to not only consume liquid fuels, but also hard working body, in the form of a fine powder. Enough bulk for controlled delivery to the engine. Create fuel systems and engines of the orbital tugs, designed for powder consumption, require their surface, not fundamental modernization. The fact that plasma engines are able to work on powder components demonstrate the earth, commercial plasma generators – “plasma torches” or “electric torch”, which are used in powder metallurgy.
Compared with liquid fuels projects, the project “Powder” fuel base on the moon relatively easily implemented and a little expensive. powder production from the lunar soil, not requires a lot of energy, no sophisticated equipment. A mere collection of raw materials and its mechanical grinding. Accordingly, the powder fuel base equipment will be easy and high-performance. Raw materials for production of the moon powder universally available materials useful coefficient of mechanical grinding wide.
For removing powder into orbit, it is expected to use a powerful mechanical catapult, “Moonlight sling.” Similar to the rotating helicopter rotor, but instead ribbons kilometer long blades. At the ends of the ribbons orbital velocity will be achieved that the moon is about 1700 meters per second. According to the tapes, we need to move transport modules, which take the containers with crushed lunar soil at the base strips and threw them into the flight at the end.
As a material to be used cardboard analogue of mineral fibers for producing disposable containers. Which, like the powder, can be performed on the moon without significant cost.
Put into orbit using the “rotary catapult”, does not require the cost of fuel. In lunar orbit, lunar powder containers should be intercepted and stored in small tugs on lunar orbital station. Where will be carried into orbit by powerful transport ships. Compared to other promising Fuelless removal means, such as electromagnetic guns, or cable space elevator sling rotary relatively simple, easy and not expensive device. Creating a sling does not require inaccessible technologies and high costs, but this device is able to provide traffic flow lunar material into orbit in amounts up to a thousand tons per year. Which is more than enough to meet the needs of low-Earth orbit constellation.
The powder raw material base of the first generation, should not be habitable serviced using multipurpose remotely controlled robots. Robots in construction, are easy tracked all-terrain vehicle equipped with bodywork for freight and anthropoid – “anthropomorphic” mechanical torso in the front part. Robots, hybrids and all-terrain vehicle mechanical humanoid torso – “Centaur”, will be able to perform a variety of activities related to the collection and transportation of raw materials, construction, various kinds of installation and maintenance of equipment. Serving as a remote-controlled human eyes and hands on the surface of the moon. To compensate for the signal delay to be used three-dimensional virtual reality technology.
Robots may not only serve basis, but also to build a fortified bunker, protected from radiation, changes in temperature and meteoric dust. In which, later it will be possible to place the human crew.
The set of equipment powder raw lunar base of the first generation, should include several robots, mills for grinding soil, sling and energy sources, solar and nuclear generators. The total weight of equipment will be a lunar base within a few tens of tons, the total cost of the project could range from 5 to 10 billion dollars. In comparison with other projects alien bases, this project is not expensive and it can be fully financed by private investors.
Lunar soil, delivered from the resource base may not only serve as fuel for orbital tugs, but the raw material for the production of liquid oxygen, ceramic and metal articles to the ISS.
Support Base in Earth orbit.
Now mankind has orbital stations, but they have no practical application, and play a role of space research laboratories. The lack of practical problems for the Earth stations, it is one of the main problems of manned spaceflight. Because the stations are expensive and dependent manned missions on government funding limits the further development of this direction.
In my scenario, the development of astronautics, space stations should be one of the most important components of the satellite constellation. The development of large-scale projects, as otherwise require the involvement of orbital stations. Orbital stations should serve as a reference point for all activities related to the industrial space group. And they should be involved in the development of all major space industrialization projects.
In the early stages of development, orbital stations should be one of the main parts of the production launch system, performing the task of transport and assembly center. Through orbital station cargo will flow from earth to orbit. They will be installed satellites. And in the future, as well, the powerful satellite platforms, heavy ships to fly to other planets and other space vehicles of different types and purpose.
After the appearance of orbital tugs, orbital station must assume the role of a base for the orbital transfer vehicles. And technology centers for maintenance and repair of satellites. All near-Earth satellites and orbital tugs will be served on the orbital stations, both on the space station maintenance.
With the development of the orbital transport systems and the beginning of development of extraterrestrial resources, orbital stations will assume the role of space production center. Activities which in the early stages, will be the production of a variety of useful materials and products of the parts of spent upper stages of carriers, debris, and other recycled materials, gifts from the point of view on the removal costs. But with the development of extraterrestrial resource bases to begin the transition to extra-terrestrial mineral resources. On orbital stations will begin the development of production capacities. First, small, industrial development, but over time, the volume and the range of products will expand the production capacity increase. And in place of orbital stations begin appearing cosmic production centers.
Space industrial group, in the first decades, will perform servicing functions, and its main activity is the development of two main areas of space services. The first is associated with the further expansion of the existing satellite industry, information services. The second with the new direction, the space solar energy.
The satellites of the new generation of communication.
The emergence of infrastructure transport systems and orbital assembly centers will lead to an increase in the satellite industry. If output satellites will be cheaper, it will increase the demand for these devices. Excretion via satellites orbiting station and the possibility of installation in space, will allow to create heavy satellite platforms, is much more powerful and feature-rich than the modern satellites. Satellite platform will be in demand in high orbits, primarily in geostationary. This orbit on which devices are hanging motionless relative to the ground, very convenient, but because demand. But it places are limited and strictly limited. Commissioning of heavy geostationary satellite platform, will allow to increase the information capacity of the geostationary groups regardless of limits.
Accommodation in a low orbit satellite platforms with film solar panels and antenna array, a large area and power, but low mass will enable empower consumer satellite communication and broadcasting. Now satellite communication services on the market, but they are expensive and therefore have no mass demand. Satellite platforms in low orbit, will be able to broadcast directly to personal user terminals, mobile phones, modems, TVs and radios. Satellite communications will be as cheap as a modern cellular, and universally accessible. You will be able to access high speed internet and hundreds of channels on the TV without being tied to a terrestrial repeater, cable and mobile networks.
The transition to the new generations of satellites greatly increase investment in the industry segment of the orbital space-based services and information environment will make the earth a more global and accessible.
Space solar power.
After a while, after the emergence of on-orbit assembly activities, installation technology in space will become more developed, and will be able to build super-heavy orbital generating platform, with industrial output and designed to ensure the earth’s consumer grid. When the construction of the orbital power stations will be appropriate to say exactly hard. By my rough estimate, 10 years after the first industrial implementation of space projects. During this time, the industrial group will get enough development, technology and powerful solar generators will be perfected in practice. But large-scale projects aimed at the development of space power, and strategic investments in this area, can accelerate its emergence.
Depletion of conventional fossil fuels and the problem of greenhouse gases, forced to find a replacement of traditional energy sources, it is desirable to alternative energy has been based on renewable and clean sources, it had large reserves and high cost.
hydropower resources are practically exhausted, wind generators are ineffective, energy is relatively expensive and its resources are not limitless, nuclear energy is dangerous and requires fossil raw materials. Many analysts are betting on promising thermonuclear energy, its potential is inexhaustible. But to this area a lot of technical difficulties on controlled thermonuclear fusion experiments have been going on for decades without any significant practical results. And there is no guarantee that these results will appear in the near future. In addition, fusion reactors will be very expensive.
It remains to solar energy. The sun is a natural fusion reactor, virtually unlimited capacity. Solar energy is clean and does not require the cost of any fuel, chemical or nuclear. But solar energy is relatively scattered, and it makes it difficult to obtain a large capacity. Solar generators are mainly play a supporting role, and disseminated, where centralized power supply is not available or expensive.
In space, as opposed to the land, there is no atmosphere and gravity in the weightlessness of space, you can mount the construction of large areas and low mass of the thin film materials and ultra-light load-bearing trusses. Space conditions allow to build solar power plant industry, which will not depend on the weather and time of day, both on the ground. In orbit can be mounted to the power generators GW, an area of several square kilometers, and a weight in the range of several hundred tons. And combines these generators in the assembly of a few tens or hundreds of units, capable of providing the energy the whole country or a large industrial region. The ratio of the cost – effectiveness, orbiting power plant will be at the level of nuclear power, from a commercial point of view, they will benefit. But unlike nuclear power, Cosmic energy is safe. And there are no limiting factors in the foreseeable future for further growth there.
Similar projects have been in the past, but their implementation prevented the prohibitively high cost of space transportation, lack of infrastructure and inadequate mounting conceived relevant technologies. Transport assembly system of industrial groups will allow to reduce considerably the cost of construction of space stations. In the development of transport and assembly systems, to be invested in the framework of satellite services program, investors will get their energy projects already in finished form, without the risks and costs of development from scratch. Technology power generators will be pre-incubation and run-on projects of powerful power plants megawatt-class. Which will be developed as energy modules orbital stations and generators heavy orbital tugs,
Orbital solar power, or may be photocells, direct conversion of sunlight into electricity. Or heat generators, similar to the turbines of thermal power plants of the earth. But not working on the furnaces and from sunlight concentrated mirrors from a thin plastic film with a mirror reflective covering.
Most analysts believe that the future of solar cells, they are simpler in design. But, in my opinion, the orbital thermal power plants will be more efficient and cheaper. Solar cells are expensive and have a low efficiency 12 – 15%. Plastic film for solar concentrators, costs almost nothing and weighs almost nothing. The efficiency of turbine generators, is comparable to the power of the earth, about 25 – 30%. Besides, it can be improved by double-circuit schemes such as the earth complexes of steam and gas turbines, whose efficiency reaches 60%. At turbine generators has its drawbacks, it is difficult to cool the space. No ambient air and water available only radiation cooling method. Radiant heat sinks are heavy and inefficient, but their effectiveness can be dramatically improved. Through the use of higher operating temperatures of turbines and circulating gas in the heat exchange circuits. With increasing temperature, the cooling efficiency increases dramatically by radiation. In this case, the turbine must be made of heat-resistant materials, which is somewhat complicated projects. But experimental developments in this direction have now.
On the ground, the solar panels are used for small capacity is used to generate turbine industrial facilities. The space is likely to be the same. Although it is something difficult to predict. There would be more effective and cheaper film solar cells in the future. Maybe there will be essentially new types of heat generators that will make turbine obsolete. Promising developments in the energy sector a lot of time will tell what will be more effective.
At first glance it may seem that placed solar power in orbit fantastically expensive. Solar power, work on the ground and we can not say that they are extremely profitable. A placement of plants in space will cost a thousand times more expensive. But especially the space conditions make it possible to power and a thousand times more effective in terms of its own weight. Space power can be mounted in a film thickness of a few thousandths of a millimeter and ultralight bearing trusses in the earth such construction will not sustain their own weight, or be swept away by the first wind. In addition, the parameters of the geostationary orbit allows solar power plants operate around the clock. They will fall into shadow only short periods of time, up to 70 minutes per day, during the spring and autumn equinoxes. It is estimated that the cost-orbital power plants will be familiar to the ground level. gigawatt power will cost in the range of about 1 billion dollars of investment, it is between nuclear and hydroelectric power plants. When cosmic energy becomes mass, the investment costs for power gigawatts likely to fall to 0.5 billion less. Such energy price level of hydroelectric power plants. For investors, this energy cost is very beneficial. And there are no limits for the further development of space power is not present. Therefore, we can confidently predict that after the first successful projects in the field of cosmic energy it will start to grow rapidly, and for a period of one to three decades, will take a leading position in the world industrial power system. the balance of costs and power orbiting power stations will be familiar to the ground level. gigawatt power will cost in the range of about 1 billion dollars of investment, it is between nuclear and hydroelectric power plants. When cosmic energy becomes mass, the investment costs for power gigawatts likely to fall to 0.5 billion less. Such energy price level of hydroelectric power plants. For investors, this energy cost is very beneficial. And there are no limits for the further development of space power is not present. Therefore, we can confidently predict that after the first successful projects in the field of cosmic energy it will start to grow rapidly, and for a period of one to three decades, will take a leading position in the world industrial power system. the balance of costs and power orbiting power stations will be familiar to the ground level. gigawatt power will cost in the range of about 1 billion dollars of investment, it is between nuclear and hydroelectric power plants. When cosmic energy becomes mass, the investment costs for power gigawatts likely to fall to 0.5 billion less. Such energy price level of hydroelectric power plants. For investors, this energy cost is very beneficial. And there are no limits for the further development of space power is not present. Therefore, we can confidently predict that after the first successful projects in the field of cosmic energy it will start to grow rapidly, and for a period of one to three decades, will take a leading position in the world industrial power system.
Going to space solar energy, will boost speed satellite constellation to several trillion dollars, it is hundreds of times higher than at present. Cosmic Energy will bring a new dimension to space exploration activities. Giants and large scale to cause the rapid development of space technology and the same rapid decline in their value. After mastering the energy direction, the space industry of industrial development stage will begin to move to the level of mass and large-scale industry sector in the world.
Other parallel space industrialization trends will be associated with the development of mineral resources of space.
Commodity projects will be divided into two main groups. Mining extraterrestrial resources for consumption space group as described above. And production of raw materials for the needs of the alien earth industry, the aim of which will be rare and expensive mineral resources. in this area are now working companies such as «Planetary Resources» and «Deep Space Industries». In these projects is expected to use some of fundamentally new technologies. Production of metal parts by means of 3D printing that will produce massive parts of mechanisms in place, reducing the cost of delivering them from the earth. And the electrolysis method in the gaseous medium, which allows to extract the precious metals from the crushed ore without any complicated chemical processing.
Precious metals, especially platinum group, is a valuable industrial raw materials, are widely used in the electronics industry and chemical industry, as catalysts. The direction of precious metals will be no such great momentum as a space power, but it is also integrated into the global industrial environment and will contribute to progress in the development of high technology, especially information technology and robotics.
isotope production project “Helium – 3” on the moon.
It is worth noting also the direction of the radioactive material mining on the moon. clean fusion energy project based on thermonuclear “burning” isotope “Helium – 3”. Minor impurities which are contained in the lunar soil.
This project is probably the most widely advertised and is considered one of the most promising directions of development of the moon. But, in my opinion, the chances of implementation had virtually none. This design is very expensive and complicated to implement, though difficult in many respects, in terms of soil isotope production and in terms of the fusion reaction, which will require the temperature in degrees billion, ten times higher than needed for combustion of hydrogen isotopes. Now is not the promising results of experiments thermonuclear “burning” of hydrogen isotopes, while the reactors can consume helium – 3 is still very far away. Besides, helium – 3 has a more affordable alternative, the reaction of “burning” the mixture of isotopes of hydrogen and boron, which also prevents contamination, but the components of this mixture are available in abundance on the ground.
Further development of the space industry.
Directions Space Energy and mining of precious metals will significantly expand the scope of space activities. Will begin mass production of a variety of designs, from simple parts and raw materials alien mechanisms. In space, there will be enterprise, designed for serial production of standardized products, will begin construction of large projects, consuming these products. So, in all probability space power plant will be built from alien structures, though the first station may be made entirely of terrestrial parts. The space will be made carrying heavy farm orbital tugs habitable modules, machine parts working in orbit, the Moon or asteroids, and other non-high-tech products with high material capacity.
Space first-generation industry, focused on satellite services, solar energy and the production of valuable resources in a few decades will reach its limit and begins to move to the next stage. Focused on large-scale industrial development space and industrial production of wide application.
Modern commercial space program is an appendage of the Earth’s information sphere. Space will be an appendage of the earth until the last stage of space services. In the next step, humanity will begin to colonize space and turn it into their permanent habitat. Space base will cease to be appendages of the satellite industry or research laboratories, and will turn into cities and industrial centers, capable of ensuring their subsistence and development, mainly due to extraterrestrial resources. Space industrial grouping, multiple databases and a small group of orbital tugs will grow into an industrial system that can replicate almost completely due to extraterrestrial resources. On the ground will be delivered only to high-tech products, electronics, precision instruments,
Space industry will work not only to provide their own needs, but also to deliver on the ground product of mass consumption. Rather, the metals in the form of a standardized rolled and complex mechanisms such as vehicles carrying frames or light aircraft. In the early stages of mass space industrialization, the level of technological space products will be minimized for the sake of reducing costs, increasing the number of products and increase the rate of growth of the space industry. But with the development of space industry system, the technological level of products manufactured in space will increase.
Through the decades, there will be infrastructure of transport system of new types, such as orbital rope catapult and powerful electromagnetic gun, located at an altitude of 120 kilometers above the atmosphere. These transport systems will display loads into orbit and to lower them to the ground without the high cost and the risk of “burn” the upper layers of the atmosphere by mass descents with an air brake. At a cost of such transport systems class orbit – the surface will be comparable to air transportation of our time, they will make available to the mass flow of goods from the earth into space and back.
With the growth of the space industry, in land economy will continue to grow the share of knowledge-intensive industries. Earth from space will receive a low-cost industrial products, and deliver the space expensive high-end detail. Earth from an isolated, enclosed space will become a metropolis of numerous space colonies. Heavy industry will be mainly moved into space, where it will not deplete the earth’s interior and contaminate the biosphere. The world economy is focused on the production of high-tech products will transform the earth into a global scientific and technical center, in comparison with which modern Silicon Valley will seem provincial scientific town. The high level of economy and literacy, caused by the global transition to a knowledge-based industry that follows the colonization of space.
Global scientific and technical breakthrough that follows the colonization of space will cause the most powerful in the entire previous history of the rise in the level of literacy and a housekeeper. Which in turn will cause the quality of life and the rise of new social transformation. Just as a few centuries ago, after the start of the sea expansion in Europe began the transition from the feudal system to the industrial revolution, which in turn led to a scientific technical and social revolution. As a result, the current level of technology, quality of life and overall development of civilization different from the medieval so that the inhabitants of medieval Europe, it would seem an extraordinary miracle. The upcoming expansion of space, by analogy with maritime expansion of the past, will cause a sharp leap level of civilization in all respects, raising it to such heights that now may seem fantastic. But the expansion of space, is not a fantasy, and the direction of economic development, the first steps in space exploration have already been made. And unlike civilizational leap past that stretched for centuries, the exponential increase in the level of development of a dynamic modern civilization will yield tangible results from the colonization of space in the lifetime of the current generation.
Since the beginning of colonization of space, these problems of the present, as a global resource shortage, ethnic political struggle caused by the desire to control over dwindling resources and limited markets, the uneven distribution of income from the world’s industrial system, the threat of the global economic crisis of civilizational stagnation or even decline in the Middle Ages, will be forgotten. All the energy of humanity will be directed into the channel space expansion, since this line is no limit to the growth, the higher the growth, the more prospects. The political struggle will not disappear, but it will come within the framework of healthy competition without irreconcilable hostility and desire for mutual destruction.
Due to space colonization, humanity will be able to get out of the limits of industrial growth on the ground, due to limited resources, putting a quantitative ceiling on the level of economic development close to the modern. And be able to move into a new space age, which will give the prospect of unfettered development, and will translate into reality the futuristic predictions of our time.