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RE: starship-design: Quiet List

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-starship-design@lists.uoregon.edu
> [mailto:owner-starship-design@lists.uoregon.edu]On Behalf Of Lindberg
> Sent: Thursday, March 12, 1998 8:01 AM
> To: SSD
> Subject: Re: starship-design: Quiet List

Taking your points in order:

1) The idea of free enterprise leading the way into space is unrealistic.
Utilizing space resources is obviously going to be expensive; getting the
necessary capital together will be very difficult.

Actually, for the last several years there has been more money made from the
private commercial space sector than from government funded projects. Even
NASA has noticed this and made the comment that the trend seems
"irreversible". It is government led development that is inherently
expensive because of the inevitable bureaucracy that develops in such
programs. If you take two identical programs and hand one to private
industry with incentive to make a profit and one to NASA under cost plus,
there is an almost threefold difference in cost.

2) Furthermore, as Andrew pointed out, large amounts of ore flooding the
market would move the supply curve way out to the right, causing worldwide
financial chaos. Finally, those ores and metals would be much better used in
building more structures in space.

Even at best case, these ores would not "flood" the market. Unless we were
to field several hundred mining expeditions simultaneously and a majority of
them just happened to find asteroids rich in precious metals at the same
time. There will be increased availability of many precious metals, enough
to cause fluctuations in market price, occasionally even severe ones, but
hardly enough to produce chaos. The growth of space mining will be slow
because it IS expensive.

Many of these ores WILL be used primarily in space - to feed advanced
orbital smelters and foundries turning out new stronger alloys and finished
goods that can't be manufactured in gravity. This will hardly cause chaos in
the marketplace. Most of the proposals I have read use the waste from the
mining operations to expand the miners living quarters, the smelters use the
waste from their processes to expand their radiation shielding, and of
course a lot of the finished steel products will remain in space.

3) The primary and dominant rationale for space development is strategic.
Although capitalism in space is likely to become important in the far
future, governments and treaty organizations will carry the torch for a long
time to come.

The primary and dominant rationale for space development WAS strategic. I
will not deny that control of space is still of supreme importance, but it
is no longer the dominant force and has not been for quite some time.

In summary, if what you want for a space program is slow, expensive,
inefficient and doomed to failure then continue to believe in government
funded space development. On the other hand, if you want rapid cheap,
effective and successful space development then you have no other choice
than private development of space. Commercial development of space may not
occur as quickly as we would like, but it is the ONLY way we will ever get
into space to stay.