In the following article concerning how to conquer space, guest author Alex Kyriacopoulos closes with the concept of a “space elevator.” In primary design, this free-hanging approach to cost-effective space access may seem a bit strange and unlikely. But you have not yet read the full context of this article. Take time to consider the idea. I see a huge flock of science fiction and fantasy story ideas rising to the top of the space elevator.
So now that the core SEO requirements have been initiated, let us dive into the mysteries of space travel hindrances and benefits, methods and effects, and the wonders of a system of access into outer space that is currently defined as a space elevator. You will like it. I did.
From Rocket Fuel to Space Elevator – How to Conquer Space by Alex Kyriacopoulos
Since Mankind could walk, we have looked up to the stars in wonder, dreaming of the mysteries that they hold. We create stories evoked by the imagination of gods, large and small, beings who made the universe as it is, who gave meaning to the structure of the stars, and who caused space to have impact on human life.
Ascent into the heavens rates among our greatest dreams. We would live among the gods, perhaps even become the gods. Yet as we advance in knowledge, our understanding of the universe is reshaped by greater understanding of science and the world around us.
We no longer see the stars and planets as heavens made by gods, but rather we see tangible places which we may one day visit. In the last 100 years the concept of conquering space has in many ways turned from dream to reality. And although science cannot disprove the evidence of a created universe, we would be a error if we failed to pursue proven lines of applied science. For example:
We have sent probes to every planet in our solar system. We have landed men to the Moon. And by use of unmanned space faring craft accompanied by the astonishing performance of extraordinary telescopes, we have successfully investigated other stars and galaxies far beyond the scope of natural vision. However, even with this ever-growing wealth of knowledge, our species remains trapped amid the cosmos on this speck of dust that we call Earth. Across our planet, scientists and engineers are driven by a goal to break free of these chains, to take our species to our next uncharted frontier, to help us experience the interstellar realm of conquered space.
To Conquer Space, We Must eliminate Strange and Unusual Challenges
Many challenges lie ahead. Even though the first landings on the moon are fifty years in the past, such efforts still require an immense effort that involves the combined resources of one of the most powerful nations of our planet. And to date, the efforts remain unsustainable due to the major lack of real economic incentive. Back at the beginning, we launched moon projects because we could, and because America wanted to show its superiority over our greatest rival, the Soviet Union. This leads to the question, what will it take to make man into a multi planet/multi solar system society? What path do we need to take that will lead us to our next evolutionary step? What needs to happen to make out longest dream a sustainable reality? And how will we overcome the many associated challenges in cost, practical application and safety.
Economics, The Greatest Cost of Conquering Space
The single most challenging obstacle to sustainable space travel is simply just economics. Up until recently, all space travel has been government funded. For business and private corporation, getting involved was simply too risky and too expensive. But due to great access to public funds governments have launched missions to space for various reasons:
Conduct scientific research
Display power and capability
Defend the nation
AND Bolster public excitement.
Yet the private sector has not been fully idol. In reaping benefits from working as government contractors, growth in the private aerospace sector continues to increase. However, we will not truly break the bounds of Earth until it becomes economically viable for corporations and people to travel into deep space on their own. For this to happen we need an event that I will call the “Gold Rush of Space”.
Feeling the read. Share Space Elevator, Conquering Space with friends. I need your help.
In the 19th century, the West was depopulated. America wished for people to begin colonizing the land in a way that would make this land into a profitable nation. Due to the arduous journey from east to west, for someone a trip that covered thousands of miles, the efforts to promote greater population proved exceedingly challenging. But then came an economic boost of great proportions.
Gold. Lots of gold followed by a rush of people that were willing to take the risk to make this journey. As the people went west, so did infrastructure and other businesses. Thus to conquer space, we need a like discovery, the discovery a valuable resource in space that is worth the risk of space travel. Then would open up new avenues into the cosmos. Surprisingly there are already a few ideas of what this new gold will be.
Asteroids, An Economic Reason To Conquer Space
Many leaders in the space industry believe that asteroids offer a reasonable catalyst for expedited space ventures. These large rocks that orbit the sun are incredibly common in our solar system. They vary in size from pebbles to mountains, generally consisting of rock and possibly some ice.
However, some asteroids are composed mainly of metals in the likes of:
AND Other precious metals.
As such, these types of asteroids have great economic value, perhaps even into the range of tens of billions of dollars. And as the hunger of society drives ever more demand for new sources of raw materials, the value of mining asteroid resources will greatly increase.
Theory implies that some of the more valuable asteroids can have their orbits altered to make travel to them easier and cheaper. We may even be able to use attached thrusters as a way to manipulate the orbit of the asteroids, perhaps even nudging them in a path that eventually pushes them into orbit around the Moon. This close-to-home approach to asteroid mining increases convenience while also avoiding the dangers of an asteroid collision into Earth.
Imagine the prospects. We park an asteroid. Mining companies rush to establish colonies on the moon. Metals are gathered. Companies reap great profit. And everyone is willing to take the necessary risks associated with the endeavor.
It only takes one company to kick-start the process. Conquer space for the sake of economic gain and other companies will follow suit. Think of it: The new Gold Rush begins. Soon companies expand the playing field, leading to journeys across the solar system in search of materials for our civilization. This is one likely way our society may evolve into a space faring one.
Conquer Space Via Nuclear Fusion As An Energy Source
Adoption of nuclear fusion as a source of energy offers yet another and different option that could lead humanity into a greater demand for space exploration. NF, a clean and almost limitless energy source, could help power our society into a new era. We could actually be free of carbon-based fuel without risking the radiation dangers inherent to earth-side nuclear fission plants.
NF technology is still in the early phase of development, yet this energy resource may soon become a viable option for near future applications. One important element for this process is called Helium-3. This isotope of helium is very rare on Earth and is generally created in labs through a process that consumes vast amounts of energy. Thus we use energy to make energy.
However, on the Moon, which lacks an atmosphere and magnetic field protecting it from solar radiation, Helium-3 is abundant. If nuclear fusion becomes a wide spread energy source on Earth the demand for Helium-3 will grow so great that it will become necessary to set up a mining colony on the Moon to obtain this valuable resource. This is another scenario that could lead to large scale space travel for humans.
With The Concept of a Space Elevator Enable A Cost-Efficient Way To Conquer Space?
Now these listed scenarios are great reasons to travel to space. However, they will only happen in the large scale if the cost of space travel itself decreases. It all comes down to economics.
Current space missions cost hundreds of millions. If space travel is to become common place, this price will have to drastically decrease. Several companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin are trying out unique solutions to drive down this operational costs, but process moves slowly.
Feeling the read. Share with friends. I need your help.
Traditionally, on launch most of the rocket body ends up being scrapped. This occurs when sections that are no longer needed for the flight are jettisoned from the payload and generally fall into the ocean. Due to the massive government budgets that NASA and other military contractors have, price was often overlooked. But now that the private sector is beginning to launch communication and GPS satellites, the excess price of scrapped material is no longer acceptable.
SpaceX is among the first company to seek remedy for the waste. Already they have successfully returned several first stage assemblies of their rockets to Earth, by landing them upright. Not only that, but they were then able to quickly reuse these rockets without any issues. The technology is not yet perfect, but SpaceX has already learned how to re-use other components of their rockets while also applying the technology to even bigger rockets. Soon the price of launches may drastically decrease to the point where private companies may see it worth the risk to try a mining mission on a foreign planet.
Chemical rockets have a certain bottom line to the cost of production and usage. Due to a limited selection of fuels to power the rocket, there is great expense in the process of fuel creation and fuel storage. Even if we could fully re-use a rocket and had to spend very little on maintenance, the fuel itself would still cost tens of millions. If there is a limit to rockets then there must be a next step which can make space travel accessible to everyone.
Incomes the Space Elevator
Over a century ago, some very innovative thinkers considered this question of fuel expense. Their solution involved a concept known as the “Space Elevator”.
In the general idea of a space elevator, we consider construction of an elevator device that eliminates the local need for fuel-based space travel. Functionality of the system would involve:
A cable, made of an incredibly strong material that we have yet to created
Anchor points on Earth linked to a counter weight located in geosynchronous orbit (GEO)
The counter weight holds tension on the cable, keeping it upright
And the space elevator is born.
Of course, such a cable would have to be incredibly long. GEO is over 22,000 miles away from the surface of Earth. Yet for functionality, the counterbalance must be located in GEO, the only distance wherein an object brought into space via the elevator would have sufficient lateral velocity to remain in orbit when it leaves the elevator. Anything lower would cause the object to come back to Earth.
A project such as this would be one of the most complicated and expensive endeavors undertaken by humans. The payload would be huge, so much so that almost every governmental body on the planet would be willing to participate.
Once completed, the elevator would enable in-space creation of massive space crafts, the beginning of a journey throughout our solar system. Then would open the gateways to the heavens. And perhaps, one day the average person would be able to conquer space.
Interstellar Travel Inevitable
No matter the avenue or the means, interstellar travel for humans is almost inevitable. With our increasing knowledge of the cosmos and the overwhelming desire to see more, we are but one catalyst away from making space travel common place. Economic incentive is key here. If money isn’t being generated it is hard to imagine justifying large scale colonization and space travel.
However, there is hope. New technologies and discoveries are quickly bringing space to our doorstep. Although this generation may never experience a conquered space, we can yet imagine a timeline wherein our grandchildren find work on an asteroid, at a construction site within a space colony or in the belly of a new and expanded interstellar space cruiser.
Feeling the read. Share with friends. I need your help.