for the Stars - Past and Future"
Imhotep, with his master, the Pharaoh Djoser, launched a programme of construction which was perhaps the greatest building project in history.
Many aspects of the motivations, challenges, and organisational problems faced in this project resemble the task of establishing human daughter civilisations beyond the Earth. The colonisation of the Moon, and Near Earth Asteroids Capture and Mining, will lead to Space Based Solar Power and Expansion of Humanity into the Solar System.
This construction of a new human civilisation in O'Neill type colonies and extraterrestrial habitats by means of Geo-Lunar System Industrialization, will be an effort spanning generations, and use new materials and techniques. Like the Egyptian civilisation before it, will evolve in logical, philosophical, and economic steps , changing Humanity forever.
What Imhotep began in a context of magic, we will do with science and technology - reach for the stars, in the common interests of Humanity, both on Earth and in the Sky!
3 from the Moon"
One of the most important and clean thermonuclear reactions is the one between Deuterium and Helium-3 that produces a proton, Helium-4 and a lot of energy.
However, the amount of Helium-3, on Earth, is very little, while it is abundant on the moon where it was deposited by the solar wind during millions of years. The lunar Helium-3 resources are estimated to million tonnes. 100 tonnes a year will be enough to meet all the energy needs of the world.
To get a ton of Helium-3 by regolith will need to excavate an area of 20,000 sq km, three meters deep, but this can be done with multiple automated robots, which has already been designed. Such machines could extract volatile gases from regolith, especially in He3 H2, thus liquified during the lunar night in tanks which then would be transported in the first lunar orbit, using a lander that uses the same lunar hydrogen and oxygen, with lighter loads of 200-300 kg, then in Earth orbit with a cargo to the Space Station (which then will finally be useful!), and then on Earth by a shuttle like Klipper, with regular trips every 3-6 months.
The nuclear fusion reactors can be easier than the various ITER, Tokamak, etc…, because protons are loaded and electrically confined electrostatically. G. Kulcinski already runned an inertial electrostatic confinement Elio3 reactor. Furthermore, we have the Fusor of Farnsworth-Hirsch, that was built for hobby.
"Asteroid exploitation: the history"
Asteroids can be considered true fossils of the Solar System. Formed in the very early stage, they did not succeed to aggregate into a larger planet due to the dynamical perturbations of the much bigger Jupiter. The asteroids did not suffer the thermal variation and differentiation of the major planets, leaving a large abundance of heavy elements even in their surface. Therefore, asteroids represent a fantastic opportunity for mining precious metals. Taking into account that some of them (the Near earth Asteroids) can be reached very easily from the Earth (even better than Moon and Mars), they can be seen as a fundamental first step for the Solar System exploitation. On the other hand, this idea is not new. In particular, we have already done, for a long time unconsciously, an asteroid exploitation in Canada, since more than one century ago.
"TANSTAAFL! or How to Colonize Space in Seven Easy Steps"
The current movement towards business forms that aim at enabling a truly private accessibility of
the space environment represents a welcome change that deserves encouragement and support. It may
lead to a return to normality and to renewed progress for Astronautics, whose development largely
stopped during the last score of years. Placed in a therapeutic tradition, this paper opens the path to a
fruitful space colonization process by listing seven fundamental actions.
We begin with a brief look at astronautical history, through the works of selected, preeminent
researchers respectively from the Forties, the Fifties, and from the Sixties of the last century. This
review allows us to recognize the Faustian bargain (Logsdon, 1997) astronautical developers entered
into, as well as to begin to identify realistic alternative courses. From the compiled data, one can then
prepare a first summary of potential scenarios and of the associate technological needs, for an eventual
comparison with currently available means.
The most successful astronautical creator to date, Wernher von Braun, entered the original Faustian
contract in 1932 by offering the services of his group of VfR researchers to the German Army. The
technical success of this first enterprise led him to repeat the process again and again – it also
established the presumption of this method as the best (or the sole) one to achieve progress on the way
to space. Thus, resulted the early triumph of Apollo – but also the subsequent decline of the
We observe alternative models, e.g., in the future history outlined in the early 1940s by Robert A
Heinlein. In this fictional time line, Heinlein set the first flight to the Moon in 1978, as the outcome of
a sustained development of aerospace transportation means and of the concentrated action of a single
man to make his own personal dream into reality. Out of the broad technological basis and of the
entrepreneurial drive grows a fast (although imperfect) human and economic expansion on three new
planets, until interplanetary travel ceases in 2016 because of political action.
From the technology perspectives of the Fifties, Dandridge M Cole provided us with a different
development vision, with quantitative analyses and the discussion of legal and political aspects.
Krafft A Ehricke offered us a 1960s vision – including themes like “Utilization of Space Environment
for Therapeutical Purposes,” (Ehricke, 1966), “Space Tourism” (Ehricke, 1967), “A Strategic
Approach to the Development of Geolunar Space (Ehricke, 1969a), and “In-Depth Exploration of the
Solar System and Its Utilization for the Benefit of Earth” (Ehricke, 1970).
Today, only through an ample access to space for private actions can we push back the resources
limits and create actual wealth by commercial activities: an overdue increased respect of moral rights
then becomes necessary condition and best consequence of the implementation of
Foundation for a New Renaissance"
As new-humanists and astro-humanists, we look with interest at those historical ages, before the current one, which have seen the development of humanist philosophies. One of the most interesting periods, from this point of view, is certainly the Florentine Renaissance of 1500. Our age shows numerous common points with that period, that saw the discovery of
the "new world", the beginning of the banking system and the international trade. Today we have the globalization of the economy, and a new world has been "discovered" (since 1969) and it is in our range: the Moon and the Geo-Lunar system. Philosophically, the Renaissance’ season saw the development of the new-Platonism, the focusing on the man, and the aim to the universe and to the infinite. The new-Humanism and the Astro-Humanism retake, in some measure, the platonic values, reaffirm with strength the centralness of the humans, aiming to a transcendental fusion between man and nature, and expanding the borders of the human activities at least to the solar system, in perspective to the endless universe. The enlightened patronage of the Medici family assured the material bases for the development of the Renaissance culture. Nowadays we have, in the world, some interesting and fertile sprouts of patronage (Diamandis and Maryniak, founders of the X-Prize, Paul Allen, minority partner of Microsoft, Google and others). We can finally find another factor of similitudes: human civilization should finally exit the Middle Age of the flat self-targeted economism, giving a new impulse to the ethical and social growth of the humans.
What is missing? The practical and technical approach of the modern patronage can seem essential at first sight, and exempted from "useless chatters". In reality our epoch is dreadfully lacking of the cultural and philosophical dimension, without which any development can only remain, in perspective, tied up to the momentary taste of the fashions and the various media opinions leader. We need, therefore, to found an institute for a new renaissance, or for the space renaissance. Such institute will finally setup the studies, the education, the cultural, philosophical and scientific search which we cannot anymore keep on missing.
Economics of Lunar Development, and its Importance for
In order to achieve economic growth in space and on the Moon, investment is needed to build infrastructure. In order to attract investment, there is a need for investors to earn profits (or public benefits in the case of government funding). In order to earn profits, there is a need for sales revenues. And, at least in the early stages, sales revenues can only come from exports of goods and services to people living outside those places.
The earliest exports from space to Earth were forms of information - telecommunications, weather data, broadcasts, scientific data - and this remains the only large revenue stream to date. However, growth prospects are limited for several reasons, including competition from other communications technologies like optical fibres and mobile networks. Recently travel services on Soyuz rockets have begun to earn revenues on a small scale.
When reusable passenger vehicles are developed for sub-orbital and orbital flight services, market research suggests that revenues could reach tens of billions of Euros/year. Hotels operating in Earth orbit will also be able to earn large revenue streams from guests, whose numbers could grow to millions/year.
Orbital hotels may also play a key role in providing early demand for exports from the Moon. This is because exporting materials or products from the Moon to the Earth is very difficult - because most possibilities are already available on Earth at low cost. However, even if launch costs to LEO fall from 20,000 Euros/kg to 200 Euros/kg, as hoped with the growth of space tourism to large scale, products such as water will still be much more expensive in Earth orbit than on the surface. Thus ice, water or liquid oxygen may become the first major exports from the lunar surface.
Once some basic infrastructure is in place on the lunar surface, such as for exporting ice to LEO, tourism to the Moon can begin, from which sales revenues could eventually grow very large indeed. This is because, technologically, travel to the lunar surface is not much more difficult than reaching Earth orbit - though it uses about twice as much propellants, and a larger range of infrastructure. Moreover, demand is likely to grow very high, since lunar tourism will hold numerous attractions for travelers, because every culture on Earth has lunar myths, making it likely to become a "Mecca" for space travelers. It also has a uniquely entertaining environment (see below).
As lunar tourism grows, it will lead to large-scale lunar construction, which will be fascinating for engineers due to the 1/6 terrestrial gravity environment. Many other industrial activities will also be greatly stimulated by the low transportation costs which tourism will create. These include raw material production and refining, and manufacturing of such products as solar panels, antennas, pressure vessels, glass products such as windows, glass fibre and others.
Lunar tourism alone will have a major cultural impact on humans living on the Earth. People living on the Moon will surely develop a new lunar culture. While we cannot predict this in detail, we can be sure of one aspect: as soon as a sports stadium is built, people will take up flying as a hobby, as discussed by both Stapledon and Heinlein. Indeed, on the surface of the Moon all sports - football, gymnastics, diving - will be fascinatingly transformed by the 1/6 gravity field.
Finally, the importance of such lunar development for human civilisation is discussed. A major problem paralysing the world economy today is the Lack of New Industries - which is becoming critical. This causes high unemployment, "working poor" and many social stresses even in the rich countries. It also leads to world-wide financial instability as investment funds "churn" in the economy in search of speculative profits. Large corporations also use their economic power to induce governments to be ever more brutal in supporting their activities to earn profits. To add to this crisis, humans have now started Resource Wars that can not be ended until new resources outside the Earth are accessed.
In the absence of radical re-structuring of societies to share work and wealth, developing an unlimited series of new industries outside the Earth's fragile eco-sytem could make a unique contribution to reversing these trends. Governments today cannot create sufficient new jobs to avoid the polarisation of the world into an underclass and an affluent elite precisely because they ignore passenger space travel. Being a popular service, this has the potential to pay for large-scale investment in space infrastructure, including most importantly low-cost reusable space vehicles, and thereby open access to the unlimited resources of space. Tragically, most people today have no idea of this potential to achieve peaceful economic growth indefinitely for everyone. Teaching about it is therefore an urgent need.
"Lava Tubes and Lunar Bases"
A new challenge is attracting the attention of the space powers: the colonization of the Moon through permanent manned lunar bases, which shall guarantee a safe environment for the crews. Furthermore it is necessary to acquire a deep knowledge of the Moon, in terms of characteristics, phenomena and resources, a knowledge which should be achieved in advance of the manned missions and which can benefit from the mature remote sensing systems and instruments.
Of special value in preparation of the future manned missions are those information useful to the selection of the optimal site for the manned outpost and, in particular, those relevant to the safety of the crew with special focus on the radiation environment and on ejects from meteoroids impact. From this point of view, in the case of a lunar outpost benefits can be taken from the exploitation of local resources, among which the lava tubes.
Lava tubes, well known structures on Earth, are formed by low-viscosity magma flowing at high extrusion rate. The lava stream develops a hard crust, which becomes the roof covering the still flowing lava. As a final result an empty buried channel is left.
The possibility to use lave tubes on the moon as possible shelters for manned bases is not new, as they can provide an environment at nearly constant temperature and which is naturally protected from meteorites impact and cosmic rays radiations (as demonstrated by specific studies), therefore allowing a simpler, and less expensive, implementation of the man made infrastructure (rigid or inflatable) they can host.
On Earth, lava tubes have typical length of 1-2 km and a cross-section of few meters. The low gravity and lack of atmosphere of the Moon favours the formation of larger lava tubes, e.g. in the order of tens ok km in length and tens of meters in cross-section.
In order to evaluate their suitability in the above sense, it is important to obtain a detailed map of the localization (including depth) of the lunar lava tubes, which, being buried, are difficult tio be detected on the basis of surface images.
On going missions to Mars (Mars Express/ESA and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter/NASA) have demonstrated the potential of radar sounders for detailed sub-surface investigations. Therefore, a radar sounder has been evaluated in the frame of an ASI study devoted to moon investigations by microwave techniques. The preliminary conclusion is that Radar sounding from orbit can provide the possibility to achieve a complete map of lunar lava tubes.
Also, experience gained by using Ground Penetrating Radars to investigate lava tubes on Earth, as well as preliminary modeling of the echo generated by a typical structure of lava tubes, show a very characterized echo pattern, which will facilitate the above mentioned mapping