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Re: RE: starship-design: The Case for Space

In a message dated 10/13/99 9:32:02 PM, lparker@cacaphony.net writes:

>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
>a better place to heat something in the absence of oxygen than in orbit?
>Even the heat is free!

Sounds like a good concept, but it would have to take less energy to heat the 
stuff down here, then to ship it up there for heating?

>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
>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
>factory for processing into product before shipping planet side or
>elsewhere, the only thing that they are going concerned with is whether
>of those individual operations are showing a profit or not. The profit
>earnings still end up in the same place, in Alcoa's bank account, here

But the jobs, and the jobs those workers support, would all move off planet.

>> 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
>hydroponic farm, just add water! There is certainly enough raw material
>available readily at hand on the surface. The programming would probably
>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
>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
>same technology.

Ignoring the construction costs, again, why could you compete with earth 
bound farms?  Construction costs would have to be less, easier access to 
water, fertalizer, etc.  Much lower transportation costs.  I could see 
nanotech manufacture of food taking over for agriculture someday, but no way 
space farms would outsell earth side sources on earth.

>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
>access to these riches and all that will spring from them, you will be
>ever farther behind with little chance of ever catching up.

Not true.  Oh the third world would lose its major current economic source of 
selling raw materials to us, but they have shown a very obvious ability to 
advance faster then us.  Its far easier to copy then innovate.