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RE: starship-design: The Case for Space

Hey Kelly,

Now that I got your attention, let me expand with some details...<G>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: KellySt@aol.com [mailto:KellySt@aol.com]
> Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 1999 6:43 PM
> To: lparker@cacaphony.net; starship-design@lists.uoregon.edu
> Subject: Re: starship-design: The Case for Space

> The mining and manufacturing do cause pollution, and moving
> it off planet
> would help, but I can't see anyone agreeing to export a major
> fraction of our
> economy even ignoring cost problems.  (Though I do expect Mining and
> manufacture will move off planet in the coming centuries, for
> these and other
> reasons, I don't think so in the next couple decades.)

There is a new method of dealing with waste that is being developed. It
involves heating the waste in the absence of oxygen which produces a very
unusual chemical reaction. Many of the basic chemicals simply break their
bonds and can be extracted easily. They are expecting very high recovery
efficiencies. This method is intended to work on Earth, but can you think of
a better place to heat something in the absence of oxygen than in orbit?
Even the heat is free!

As for exporting a major fraction of our economy off planet, I assume by
that you mean that there is a corresponding loss of income on-planet. This
isn't true. Multinational corporations do not worry about whether the income
came from one particular country versus another. They are only concerned
with the profitability of that particular, unit, office or branch. Reams of
bad science fiction not withstanding, that commercial model is likely to
hold up very well in orbit. If Alcoa opens an aluminum extraction operation
on the moon and a refinery in orbit and then ships the raw aluminum to a
factory for processing into product before shipping planet side or
elsewhere, the only thing that they are going concerned with is whether each
of those individual operations are showing a profit or not. The profit or
earnings still end up in the same place, in Alcoa's bank account, here on

> FOOD!!  I'm doubtful space platforms would grow their own
> food, being able to
> compete with Earths domestic sources in domestic markets?!!  No way!

I was considering the possibility of a nanomachine built hydroponic farm.
Suppose you had a handful of self replicating nanomachine that you could
turn loose on a suitable part of the Moon's surface and they would build a
hydroponic farm, just add water! There is certainly enough raw material
available readily at hand on the surface. The programming would probably be
pretty tricky, but I see no inherent reason why it couldn't be done before
fifty years are up. As far as competing goes, if you are comparing such an
orbital farm against a TYPICAL planet side farm, you are being grossly
unfair - to the planet side farmer. Even modern farms in the Western
Hemisphere would have a hard time competing unless they were using the exact
same technology.

There is a down side to all of this. Quite simply, the rich will get richer,
and the poor will get poorer. If you are not part of a western economy with
access to these riches and all that will spring from them, you will be left
ever farther behind with little chance of ever catching up.