Showing posts from December, 2008
To the moon, naked and screaming...

Let's extend the idea of "naked and screaming" to a mission direct from Earth to the moon.

If all we cared about was getting a couple of people to the moon, alive, and we wanted to do it as cheaply as possible, we'd have a one-way rocket. It'd have no pressurized capsule. The astronauts would have space suits and a frame to strap into on top of a stack of rockets and fuel and some electronics.

Their vehicle would have a single, reliable engine and plenty of fuel tanks that can be ejected once empty. Since they don't want to land with a heavier engine than they really need, it's not a particularly large rocket. That may mean they take a bit longer getting to the moon - circling the earth an extra time or so for the most efficient engine burns. Same for the moon - an extra orbit or so - but they aren't going to take the time to establish a nice circular orbit either, as they aren't leaving a "return mod…

Naked and Screaming into Space

I've got a term for how we can get the costs of human space launches down. I call it "Naked and Screaming". It's based on the idea that the cheapest possible way to get someone into space, would be to simply strap them onto the nose of a rocket, and launch them "naked and screaming" to low earth orbit. Start from that perspective, then work your way backwards to the minimum cost method of getting someone safely and reliably to LEO.

If we assume an 80kg astronaut, at perhaps $10000/kg to LEO - the "naked and screaming" price might be $800,000. Not exactly the price of a vacation plane ticket - but perhaps affordable for a corporation that needed a human operating in space.

But obviously we can't *really* send them up naked. No one could hear them scream out there, anyhow... And perhaps we'd like to somehow be able to send them somewhere useful?

That's where most manned space programs start to go wrong, I think. They start thinking…

Strike! (not)

A replacement for the "strike" is needed. It's a crude and destructive tactic, for all sides: workers lose wages, employers lose sales and profits and market share to competitors, customers are inconvenienced, suppliers may go broke, governments lose tax revenues, etc.

The long term harm a strike causes both sides creates anger that gets in the way of negotiating and considering the other side's point of view.

An alternative would be to keep the factories or services rolling - but workers would not be paid, and 100% of income from sales of products and services would go into an escrow account, out of the control of both sides, and neither side could borrow against its value.

It's easily "tweaked" to balance the incentives on both sides and encourage fast resolution. Perhaps after two weeks, all profits must be donated to charity, along with 10% of escrowed wages.

Both sides might be required to put up a "good faith" bond, that they'd sacrif…