Erika Nesvold 2023 Beav. Lib 629.442 NES
- vii "We'll worry about that later" is not something I ever expected to hear from a leader in the space industry."
Ms. Nesvold: please learn about how people actually make stuff and solve problem. Your linkedin CV shows zero business or engineering experience.
- That's peachy keen for an exoplanet astrophysicist, but your business/engineering skills may be quite a bit less than my astrophysics and exoplanet skills (8 shelf feet of outdated graduate level texts).
vii "now defunct" ... Perhaps Deep Space Industries CEO (2012-2017) Daniel Faber. I'm skeptical of Faber as a self-appointed "leader", and it is unlikely that he has ever had enough resources or funding to worry about many things now, especially in response to an out-of-the-blue question from an unknown conference attendee. OF COURSE this is a topic that should be addressed long before design and deployment, but NOT long before a lunar mining startup struggles to learn whether lunar mining makes sense to study.
- IMHO, I don't think lunar mining makes any sense at all, not even for filling sandbags (which the sharp dust would abrade to shreds). Lunar crust is oxide minerals; reducing it to elemental Silicon, Aluminum, and Iron requires electricity and carbon electrodes. Practically zero carbon on the Moon. Photovoltaic electricity? Not with a two week night.
- Besides those drawbacks, the Moon is covered with highly abrasive glass fragment dust, which ruins optics and would rip holes in sandbags. The dust is launched upwards by solar UV, perhaps many kilometers, to settle on upward facing surfaces; this has rendered the Apollo retroreflectors almost useless. It would be far worse for efficient PV illumination.
- The Moon is a slagheap. We are very lucky the the Tethys impact stripped that slag off the Earth.
- Lunar escape velocity is 2380 meters per second. Less than Earth, but more delta V than delivering materials from Near Earth Asteroids (a threat worth eliminating) or even Deimos, orbiting distant Mars.
Therefore, if you want Mr. Faber to think about these things, help him think about them. If his plans remain poorly thought out, inform his investors, and help them find better investment opportunities.
- For example, Deimos may also be useless slag, but its tiny escape velocity will not trap abrasive impact bubble dust. Deimos may be cold enough to trap water ice beneath the surface. Will extraction ruin Deimos forever? Deimos is 1.5e15 kg; if extracted rationally and prudently (say 1500 tonnes per year), Deimos will last a billion years.
- We can combine that soda-straw extraction "pipeline" with extensive sample collecting and scientific evaluation - better to pay for Deimos science with judicious Deimos extraction, rather than launching Earth materials through a Tsiolkovsky-equation-narrowed carbon-fueled production pipeline from Earth.
- Sure, Deimos is "years away", but after a delivery "pipeline" is filled (filling may take 20 Earth years), it will be a steady pipeline. Yes, this is an annoying delay, but annoying is better than expensive and fruitless haste.
- Other politically correct questions like "how will workers in space be shielded from exploitation?" Probably the same way we protect graduate students from exploitation (mostly NOT). There are MANY opportunities, and part of the education process (and maturation to adulthood) is learning how to find some least-bad opportunities.
- Nesvold is a Norwegian name; perhaps a great-great-grandparent emigrated from Trondheim to the United States on the same ships that my Swedish grandfather did, for the same "escape exploitation, pursue opportunity, build America" reasons.
And here we are - pay it forward, by providing better jobs than the "exploiters" do. If you can't, learn how. If you can't learn how, your opinion is ungrounded fantasy, and you are worse than the exploiters, who at least provide some value to somebody.
What I read in the book (a few dozen page-samples, not the whole whiny thing) shows similar evasion of responsibility. If you think you know better than the entrepreneurs busting 100-hour weeks for a few tiny gains, find solutions YOURSELF, and RIGOROUSLY test them. Don't demand their attention like a spoiled toddler.
Space settlement advocates spend thousands of hours thinking and writing about social solutions, in addition to technical problem solving. I have 20 shelf-feet of that. The biggest problem is that societies are REALLY COMPLEX and INTRICATE, and we haven't got anywhere close to "Newton's Laws" of human behavior. Indeed, a model-able mind is subvertable mind, perhaps the explanation for why free minds aren't modelable.
Develop the analytical tools, and ethical engineers will gladly apply them. Sadly, this is VERY DIFFICULT; one brain neuron is more complicated than a Saturn V rocket. Not as complicated as a precise model of an exoplanetary dust cloud. Driven, of course, by Lyapunov instability; the model won't be precise for long.
Fortunately, we have enormously capable computers to implement analytical models. Unfortunately, we lack rigorous, reproducible models. If this is the important problem (I believe so), study brains and minds and their interactions, not exoplanets. Avoid politically-correct newspeak, the word-salad phlogiston of human behavioral "science".
The real message is "engineering is easy, people are hard". With excellent analytical tools for the former (which still fail most of the time), and a practical absence of people analytics (opinion polls and nose counts are NOT analytics), it is unsurprising how engineers and entrepreneurs actually choose to allocate their limited attention.
- pg 3 "Should We Settle Space?"
define "We". Everybody? No. Consider Maslow's hierarchy pyramid, a very incomplete 5-level ranking of human "needs". A scientist or engineer or entrepreneur (the real kind, not fiction puppets) has WAY more needs (and desires) than are expressed in that pyramid. I hope some of "we" have better descriptive tools than that.
define "Settle". Space is a 3D dynamic environment, nothing holds still. Typical space colony models wrap a few hectares of simulated Earth surface around a tubular air bubble, deploy it a shallow dynamic minima, and fill it with people. Sounds like the gulag, not heaven. I agree those are lame, but they are NOT the only option. Instead, one of many easy-to-explain options. Practical options will be like deep-submicron integrated circuits; practically impossible to explain, evolving toward functionality, often failing. Just like all REAL human settlements. My takeaway from my college sociology classes is that we know many reasons why settlements fail, and we are still learning more failure modes, but we DON'T know how to make settlements with the same "yield" as a silicon chip.
define "Space". Space is EVERYTHING besides the interiors and skins of stars and planets (and perhaps moons), perhaps 4e80 cubic meters. Practically, in 2023, everything besides the 9e18 cubic meter troposphere of the Earth and its inaccessible interior. Day to day, perhaps a couple of meters altitude above the habitable continental surface below almost all of troposphere, perhaps 1e14 cubic meters.
Gerard K. O'Neill asked "Is a planetary the best place for an advanced technological civilization?"
A quote Dr. Nesvold omitted on purpose, or does not know about. I fear intentional omission; these 8 O'Neill quotes demonstrate imaginative compassion, not callous indifference to human needs.
Most space advocates say "probably NOT the best place". The CO₂-driven heat death of Canadian forests and the 100℉ oceans off Florida as I write this suggest "almost certainly not". I'm sure better is possible, but it is way easier for my shaved-ape neighbors to ignore physics, park their SUV with their engine running, air conditioning running, and windows open while they use their "smart" phone. An activity creating 20 times as much CO₂ as electricity powering my house, my too-many computers, and my Mb/s share of the global internet.
- BTW, I used these computers to design integrated circuits that significantly reduced the "routing power" of the global internet. Now I create designs to use space power to reduce the routing power by an order of magnitude, and dissipate it OUT THERE, not in the troposphere.
- I also design launch systems that may someday reduce the energy cost of launch by FOUR orders of magnitude, approaching ½ Mp V², where Mp is launched payload mass. Launching a metric tonne to escape (10.7 km/s relative to the rotating Earth) might cost 60 GJ, 17 MWh, not the many terajoules expended by a chemical-fuel two-stage rocket.
- Will that enable nasty stuff? Certainly, people are perverse. Perverse people transformed stellar physics into fusion bombs. Our job as technologists is to do BETTER things faster than careless/evil people do BAD things.
- An engineer is someone who does for a dollar what any damned fool can do for two. An engineer is poorly trained to change the nappies of a fussy astrophysicist. In her defense, Dr. Nesvold doesn't seem to do in-person book tours or conference appearances, and lives urban, so her carbon footprint may be as low as mine.