Wednesday, May 14, 2014

If the Russians Won't Play Nice, Who Needs Them?

Bigelow/Boeing Space Hotel
Apparently the Russians don't like it that the US has complained about recent Russian imperialism rearing its ugly heat with the annexation of the Crimea and continuing threats to take more territory from the Ukraine. Now they want to ban us from the International Space Station.  I figure, let's just let 'em have it along with the rest of the world who were supposed to love us now that Barak Obama is president, but don't. We should, of course take our junk with us. I figure, since they all keep telling us they don't need us, let's see how they manage on their own. Call it our gift to international development.

Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin and suggested we "use trampolines" to get our astronauts to space. So let's do just that for a while. We don't have to be in space all the time. Let's back up and unleash American private industry on the problem. Meanwhile our astronauts can be training for the next "giant leap for mankind" as Neal Armstrong so aptly described it. For instance:

  1. The US pays 67 million dollars per astronaut for transportation to the International Space Station. Elon Musk's Dragon X space capsule could deliver 7 astronauts for that figure. Space X already delivers up to 13,228 pounds (6.5 tons) worth of stuff to the ISS on every trip using it's cargo version of the Dragon X. The spacecraft was designed to also be able to be fitted to carry human passengers. Give him the launch money we'd have used to pay the Russians and we'll wind up saving a lot of money in the long run.
  2. Why are we messing with the Russians anyway? Why don't we just build our own space station and, like I said, leave the old ISS behind as our gift to the "rest of the world". Our way of giving them a little boost. Bigelow Industries and Boeing have already developed inflatable space station modules. Take our budget for launching astronauts and put it toward designing a giant blow-up US Space Station with lots more room and more modern tech on board. We could even give the Air Force it's own wing to do Air Forcey type things. 
  3. Why aren't we going to the moon? Bigelow also has some nifty designs for blow up moon bases. Space X has a Falcon Heavy rocket under development that could get us there. We could always dust off the lunar lander designs from Apollo and update them. We know they work. 
  4. What about mining and salvage operations? NASA already has its eyes on harvesting asteroids for materials.Why not the same on the moon?  There are plenty of minerals there and our astronauts could go around picking up all the metal stuff the Russians and Chinese have left scattered all over the lunar surface and either melt them down for scrap or repair them and charge the Russians and Chi-coms for the repairs. 
  5. Why aren't we preparing to go to Mars while we're at it? Apparently there are some things on the moon we could make oxygen and water out of so let's set up labs to experiment with that stuff on the moon. If we can learn to get along on the moon we can figure out how to get along on Mars. At least Mars has an atmosphere to work with.
  6. Actions speak louder than words. Instead of talking about how much we want to help the world, why don't we just do it. Let's push out toward the final frontier and bring our friends along with us. Countries that want to go along should be welcomed. Our gain is their gain and all you have to do to be a part of the amazing things we will be doing is to quit calling us names and undermining everything we're trying to do. If you want to be part of something big, do like the sign on the recording studio where "We are the World" was taped - "Please check your egos at the door." If we show the rest of the world how to be altruistic in space, others will follow.
  7. Reward innovation and keep the cronyism out of it. You want a successful space race, make it a real race. Rewards go to those who do the best work. Cheating should be massively punished. Crony deals that reward shoddy workmanship, kickbacks and poor return on investment should get the perps banished from space. Let the Earth be their prison.
  8. Get the media in on it in a big way. If you want people excited about space investment, get it on television and in the theaters. How about IMAX on the moon or Survivor Tranquility Base. Admittedly down the road, but you get the idea. Chris Hadfield had the right idea with his ISS music video of "Ground Control to Major Tom". Find media celebs to recruit as space boosters. How about a reporter in space on the brand new space station. Wouldn't you love to see Meghan Kelly floating around on camera trying to interview the guys on the crew?
  9. Get private investors into the business of financing individual for-profit missions. What might an asteroid pulled into lunar orbit be worth?  How about investors putting up a for-profit space hotel. Bigelow's got the modules for it. Space-X has the boosters and soon will have the crew capsules. About 7 other companies aren't far behind.
  10. Make the greenies happy and reduce rich peoples' collective guilt. Start a fund-raising drive to support development of more eco-friendly launch vehicles - balloon launches, space elevators, mag lev "rail gun" launchers and such. Publish efforts to create fuels from things found in space rather than having to lift it off the Earth. Advertise our efforts to reduce the cost and environmental impact of spacecraft launches, to harvest and recycle space junk and improve our knowledge of planetary science as "planet-friendly". Do documentaries showing how what we learn about conservation and recycling of food and water for off-world bases can be used to insure better harvests and cleaner water back on Earth.
NASA Scale Mag/Lev Launch System
We just need some leadership over at NASA that's more concerned with space exploration than with making Muslims feel good about their contribution to science. The politics need to be set aside in favor of getting the job done. Right now, as Ronald Reagan pointed out, we're the last best hope of freedom left on the planet. If we go down to totalitarianism, you'd better hope we've got some way to get off this rock.

Me, I'm betting on Jesus dropping by in a big space ship and evacuating the good guys before the bad guys blow themselves up and all the rest of us with them. Ah, but then I'm a bit pessimistic about how long we've got left. But I do think the longer we keep them busy the less twitchy their nuclear trigger fingers will be.

It'll be nice when we inherit the New Earth, not to have to deal with all the self-interested, corrupt and evil folk that feel like they must rain on every parade anybody gets up besides themselves. I like the rail gun launch system myself. It make take me and some buddies of mine a thousand or so years to figure it out and build it, but then, we won't have to worry about time so much then.

© 2014 by Tom King

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