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techstepgenr8tion
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02 May 2022, 8:53 am

I just watched this guy's video. On one hand it looks like a funding pitch, on the other it looks pretty interesting because he's talking about launching fabricators up on SpaceX Starship and then supplying the panels in further runs. The idea is that there's an assembly which is designed to slot rhomboid panels into slots in a ring (SARGON) which welds them together and this assembly ring can keep working as long as the supplies are available.

TBH I'm not sure about his construction times. If the slightest things go wrong in space time tables shift by a lot, however I would think that if he has enough redundant safeties built in it will at least be within 100% of estimates.

I do also like his idea of getting enough of these spun up to then effectively have a Home Depot in space as well as a laboratory for testing new fabrication technology. For example just being able to send raw materials up rather than completed panels would also be a cost savings.

From there it could just be a skip and a jump to O'Neill cylinders (maybe another 20 years later as the technology gets exercised).

Interesting stuff.


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03 May 2022, 5:31 pm

Musk has ruined all this stuff for me, that lying charlatan. I'll believe nothing until it is literally built. Even then part of me is going to wonder if it's CGI.


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03 May 2022, 7:47 pm

The Stanford Torus was the principal design considered by the 1975 NASA Summer Study, which was conducted in conjunction with Stanford University (and published as Space Settlements: A Design Study, NASA Publication SP-413). It consists of a torus or donut-shaped ring that is one mile in diameter, rotates once per minute to provide Earth-normal gravity on the inside of the outer ring, and which can house 10,000 people.

I have waited nearly 50 years, and have seen no progress.


Link to PDF



techstepgenr8tion
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03 May 2022, 9:04 pm

Mikah wrote:
Musk has ruined all this stuff for me, that lying charlatan. I'll believe nothing until it is literally built. Even then part of me is going to wonder if it's CGI.

From what this guy's saying he's not in contact with Musk but wants to be, ie. he gives a shout out to Bezos and Musk at the end of the presentation.

I watch Isaac Arthur's show with interest on a regular basis (he doesn't live far from me either and I could imagine running into him at some kind of space colonization Meetup). Lex Fridman also had Ariel Ekblaw talking about the same thing Isaac Arthur was discussing, which was modular and self-assembling space ships and stations. This guy seems to be taking similar ideas with them and running with the fabrication, not so much 3D printing (although he has an idea to eventually get a space station up there which would be a builders hub), it's more about automated fabrication and, at least for now, relying on SpaceX to get the materials up there and having some automated vehicles feeding panels into the SARGON unit, which is what I think sounds the most difficult at least from the lay perspective - the idea that you'll have these self-assembly robots moving back and forth in space between the 'tree' which has all of the panels and materials locked to it, unlocking them, and propelling themselves back and forth between the materials tree and the station.

What I like at least is the idea is both ambitious and relatively simple. I suppose we'll know a lot more once he actually builds one and puts his theory to the test as to whether one of these stations really can be completed in six months (which, just my experience with anything, there's unknown-unknowns everywhere).


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techstepgenr8tion
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03 May 2022, 9:08 pm

Fnord wrote:
The Stanford Torus was the principal design considered by the 1975 NASA Summer Study, which was conducted in conjunction with Stanford University (and published as Space Settlements: A Design Study, NASA Publication SP-413). It consists of a torus or donut-shaped ring that is one mile in diameter, rotates once per minute to provide Earth-normal gravity on the inside of the outer ring, and which can house 10,000 people.

I have waited nearly 50 years, and have seen no progress.


Link to PDF


He's talking much smaller scale, something like one order of magnitude more volume than the ISS. The idea then is to increase traffic and commercialization into space and get more $$$ flowing into our endeavors toward getting ourselves fabricating on and launching from the moon, mining asteroids, etc..

I also think about just how bad the friction is getting in politics, in economics, the international fight over AI, if we do just stick to Earth we have transfer frontier only - which means any country who can't defend their stuff gets invaded by someone more ruthless. If we can get our heads back out to taking in new and more territory and more economic opportunities off-world, It's a big jump and I really don't see us in an Expanse scenario in my lifetime but just the idea that it could be relevant might get people's eyes off of each other's resources a bit and give, say, China better goals than invading Taiwan.


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03 May 2022, 9:21 pm

techstepgenr8tion wrote:
I watch Isaac Arthur's show

Oh, that is quality content! :D


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techstepgenr8tion
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03 May 2022, 9:37 pm

kitesandtrainsandcats wrote:
techstepgenr8tion wrote:
I watch Isaac Arthur's show

Oh, that is quality content! :D

He does get into some wild stuff sometimes like terraforming Venus, building Dyson spheres, or orbital rings around planets but I get the impression that he sees these problems as just us leveraging more energy, a bit like building enough automated factories in space we could have millions of O'Neill cylinders floating out there. Probably not in my lifetime but if someone's got the math, engineering, and physics backgrounds to make gainful speculations on that sort of thing I'm all for it.


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07 May 2022, 8:04 pm

The trick with all this stuff is the economic picture. The technology is there. We (someone) COULD do it. But it is very expensive getting any amount of mass out of earth's gravity well. And when you are done what do you have to pay you back for all of your time and money and effort?

Bezo's idea is better - the material comes from closer to the building site. Take it from the moon or asteroid belts or smaller planets or the moons of the bigger planets. It costs less in energy to get it "up" out of a smaller well. Also lots of energy is available from space based solar. Bezo's plan is based on Gerard Kitchen O'Neill's plans. The physics is all sound. The cost benefit comes from the space based solar and "in-situ" resources available from space based sources (not earth based sources). Another possible benefit comes from some very rare low mass high value materials (such as some kinds of metals), and from the possibility of exporting "ideas". The innovation needed to make a successful space colony, or mars colony is a possible "intellectual capital" which could be sold back and forth between earth and an colony (or "new world").

Just going for the sake of going, or building for sake of building doesn't work out from a cost-benefit point of view. This why some of the do-able has never been done. Some ideas of how and what to do are just a huge cost sink with no return at all ever.


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techstepgenr8tion
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07 May 2022, 8:42 pm

Admittedly there's a lot that doesn't get addressed in the video, like:

1) What would the exact costs of getting all of this into space be?
2) Export cost + panels & trees + SARGON and automated building assistants?
3) Once the site is thoroughly tested and the life support systems are deemed sound - do they have any potential commercial suitors yet, such as other companies who would pay rent for laboratory space or anything else of that sort sufficient to recover the costs of launch within a reasonable amount of time?

As far as I understand the suggestion there's heavy cost on one side, ie. getting all of that 'up', partially - in theory - mitigated by cost reduction of SpaceX being able to recover it's craft and boosters, and then the idea that complete automation makes assembly itself free. Their big plan is to first build a handful of these, then build a station for fabrication at which point SpaceX could just launch raw materials.

The question really is then - what is the total ticket price to build one of these and are there commercial or governmental agencies who would want these sites and are willing to pay?

There's some possibility as well that the cost effectiveness window could still be risky right now but more reasonable in the next five to ten years.

As for needing to necessarily mine these from asteroid or moon regolith - that I'm less sure of. For example if it's cost feasible at all right now, a lot of pent-up demand is there for what would effectively be a supply of one (ie. multi-floor contiguous toroidal environment with perhaps a partial G simulated by rotation), and there wouldn't be lunar mining or asteroid mining of any reasonable capacity for at least another fifteen years, I could see that being enough to take care of the difference unless one of these stations cost tens or even billions of dollars in launch costs, ie. something ridiculous. It might be useful to consider how many kilos, really metric tons, of material this is and what the cost per kilo is for sending things into orbit via something like SpaceX Starship if the design does work as planned.


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techstepgenr8tion
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07 May 2022, 8:57 pm

Something on that last point from Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_lau ... ompetition

Lowest on the list was Falcon Heavy at $1,400 per kilo.

I'm doing some guess work and really this is just me trying to flesh out orders of magnitude in terms of costs.

Assuming they used Falcon Heavy in this example instead of StarShip:

Safe estimate of panels and equivalent weighted structures: 7,500
per panel: 5kg

7,500 * 5 = 37,500

37,500 * $1,400 = $52,500,000


This is indeed missing some elements like fabrication of the panels and other pieces, we could maybe add another $5 to $10 million and bring this up closer to $60-$65M.

Unknown - StarShip $/kg, which is what he's recommending.

We could even give this an error bar of 100% and consider what the feasibility differences would be.

We can consider different rent schemas but 10 year ROA would require $6-$6.5M per year, roughly $500-550K per month. If 100% more - $12-13M, $1-1.5M per month.

Are those realistic prices? Depends on who needs it and for what.

If I were them - I'd want to line up at least three to five potential renters capable of renting that facility who know why they'd need it and would want it for at least five years.

This is also a case where if waiting two or three years to do this could cut costs in half, it might be worth them waiting if it's the difference between breaking even with best case scenario vs. making a safe margin even with incomplete utility and perhaps gaps between renters.


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techstepgenr8tion
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07 May 2022, 9:20 pm

Again not being super-precise but rather checking Reddit for what the glee over SpaceX Starship is about:

https://www.reddit.com/r/SpaceXLounge/c ... o_between/

Looks like the 'aspirational' goal is $2M / 150 MT.

For straight-line comparison Falcon Heavy would be $210M for the same quantity.

So I get the excitement now on that, and it's a much better proposition if they come anywhere near that, even cutting the Falcon Heavy cost down to 25% seems like it would make a reasonable difference let alone bringing it down to 1%. They'd still have fixed costs for construction of the pieces and parts to be fabricated, so the cost for this thing might be $15-20M, 10 year ROA = $1.5-2M / yr, monthly rent = $125K - $166K.


Let me know your thoughts on ROI feasibility, I get the impression anything under $100M would cut it.


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13 May 2022, 4:27 pm

Some skeptical videos with irritating narrators:

This company makes Musk look honest and on-the-ball.




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techstepgenr8tion
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14 May 2022, 4:42 pm

^^ Good call.

Admittedly I didn't really sleuth as much as I could have on the foundation or the guy pitching it, focused more on the concepts.

It probably also shows that I'm not a materials specialist or civil engineer, for example the ISS averaging 458kg per cubic meter. I'd have to know more as well about what's really required in the outer shell of such structures to know what the minimum weight is for protecting occupants and computer equipment, also clearly can't be less than ISS's 420MT's unless we really had some kind of materials revolution or some radical breakthrough with graphene.

Perhaps the good news, if Starship comes in anything like it's supposed to in terms of delivery cost, that launching another ISS equivalent might cost less than $10 million.


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14 May 2022, 11:12 pm

On a side note - 'Common Sense Skeptic' is really grinding an ax with Elon Musk and Starlink (having watched that video Youtube is now recommending me tons of these videos). I figure at least in Elon's case, what he's building either delivers or doesn't and it rises and falls based on whether it delivers. Direct funding and crowd-sourcing seems like it's a bit more easily gamed than 10K's and 10Q's.


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15 May 2022, 12:20 am

techstepgenr8tion wrote:
On a side note - 'Common Sense Skeptic' is really grinding an ax with Elon Musk and Starlink (having watched that video Youtube is now recommending me tons of these videos). I figure at least in Elon's case, what he's building either delivers or doesn't and it rises and falls based on whether it delivers. Direct funding and crowd-sourcing seems like it's a bit more easily gamed than 10K's and 10Q's.


Yeah hehe I do enjoy a bit of Musk-bashing. I don't know much about space logistics either, but his argument that "40k satellites that have to be replaced every few years is in batshit-crazy-never-gonna-happen territory" didn't require much convincing on my part.


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