Jeff Bezos Wants to Build Giant Factories in Space to save the Earth

How do you protect planet Earth? “By going into outer space,” Bezos told Walt Mossberg Tuesday. What Bezos meant was something “slightly more measured” than Elon Musk’s idea of building colonies on Mars.

Activities that require the most energy should be performed in space, in order to leave Earth clean and habitable for humans.

“Earth will be zoned residential and light industrial. You shouldn’t be doing heavy energy on Earth. We can build gigantic chip factories in space,” he said.

Bezos also said that we are on the verge of golden era from computers with true natural language understanding. and Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos envisions “millions” of people living in orbit as his exploration company, Blue Origin, and other commercial ventures develop spacecraft to make travel more widely available.

Investment from wealthy entrepreneurs with a passion for space will usher in a new era that makes leaving the Earth’s atmosphere accessible to anyone, Bezos said Tuesday.

Earlier, he announced that Blue Origin will put $200 million into a new rocket assembly facility and launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

“Our ultimate vision is millions of people living and working in space,” Bezos said during a rare, 30-minute interview in Florida with reporters after the Blue Origin announcement.

“We have a long way to go.”

The 52 year old Bezos the world’s seventh-richest man with a net worth of around $62 billion. Bezos is over 4 times richer than Elon Musk ($13 billion net worth). Elon Musk also wants millions of people in space. Although Elon wants more people in cities in Mars than in orbit.

Bigelow expandable space stations and larger reusable rockets would enable large scale space colonization

Bigelow Aerospace has designed 2100 cubic meter expandable space station modules which might be launchable by a slightly refined Spacex Heavy. Bigelow now has a expanded room on the International Space Station.

The larger planned Mars colonization transport (MCT) would be able to launch modules that are three to five times larger.
Fuel could be launched and stored at fuel depots in orbit. This would enable more cargo to be moved to Mars with refueling in orbit and other locations in space.

Spacex could launch 100 Bigelow 2100 cubic meter modules for about $1 billion using two reusable Spacex Heavies over as little as one year (one launch per week). Blue Origin might also be able to make larger reusable rockets.

This would be 200,000 cubic meters of volume. This would be enough for 2000 people with the same facilities per person as the Hercules resupply depot design.

Spacex could launch 1000 Bigelow 6000 cubic meter modules in one year.

This would be 600,000 cubic meters of volume. This would be enough for 6000 people with the same facilities per person as the Hercules resupply depot design.

Reaching 1 million people in orbit would be 170 of the one thousand expandable modules. 6000 people is a bit more than the number of people in a large aircraft carrier. The Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas has 3309 rooms and suites.

1 million people would be like 170 large light weight versions of cruise ships, hotels or air craft carrier structures in orbit.

Robotic and additive manufacturing could enable massive frames and massive solar power arrays

Tethers Unlimited is currently developing a revolutionary suite of technologies called “SpiderFab” to enable on-orbit fabrication of large spacecraft components such as antennas, solar panels, trusses, and other multifunctional structures. SpiderFab provides order-of-magnitude packing- and mass- efficiency improvements over current deployable structures and enables construction of kilometer-scale apertures within current launch vehicle capabilities, providing higher-resolution data at lower life-cycle cost.

They have received a $500,000 phase 2 NASA NIAC contract, which follows a $100,000 phase 1 contract to develop the technology.

100 of the 2100 cubic meter stations would be about $50 billion without any volume discount.
100 of the 6000 cubic meter station might be about $100 billion.
Launching with reusable rockets would be about $1 billion.
Say $10-20 billion for Spiderfab constructed solar power dish arrays and structure.
There would need to be $10-20 billion for operations.
It would be less than the cost of the international space station.

Spiderfab, Expandable stations and Reusable rockets could make affordable large scale orbital colonization

A ten thousand person colonization space ship design is proposed with a focus on how the community and living spaces should be designed. People are assigned area with the density of the city of Seattle and standard mixed use living areas. Everyone has 50 square meters of living space. There is agricultural and other green areas.

The International space station was built with 160 modules and dozens of launches over fifteen years. It weighs 450 tons. It has about 850 cubic meters of pressurized volume and has a crew of 6.

The cost is $150 billion including 36 shuttle flights at $1.4 billion each, Russia’s $12 billion ISS budget, Europe’s $5 billion, Japan’s $5 billion, and Canada’s $2 billion. Assuming 20,000 person-days of use from 2000 to 2015 by two to six-person crews, each person-day would cost $7.5 million, less than half the inflation adjusted $19.6 million ($5.5 million before inflation) per person-day of Skylab.

Henson Bootstrapping plan for planet wide energy replacement

Space based solar power satellites could replace fossil fuels. This would require both lower cost and higher volume than SpaceX could deliver. The cost to GEO can’t go to over $200 per kilogram and the required traffic level is 15 million tons per year to LEO. (12 million to GEO.)

The main advantage of orbital space based solar is you get 5 times as much sun as the best deserts and 15 times for places like Japan and the UK.

Henson’s space based solar plans solve energy concerns without subsidies and make a lot of money. Low energy cost makes everyone better off.

Initial target cost is 3 cents per kWh to undercut coal, 2 cents or less to replace oil.

Henson uses a method of designing to cost. Design to cost is a management strategy and supporting methodologies to achieve an affordable product by treating target cost as an independent design parameter that needs to be achieved during the development of a product

Synthetic Oil from electricity. Hydrogen in a barrel of oil takes ~20 MWh. At two cents, $40 per bbl.

Capital $10 per bbl based on this plant below

How much can we spend on space based power satellites?

For low maintenance and zero fuel cost, the levelized Cost of Electricity is capital cost of 80,000

That is $2400 per kW for the target of three cents per kWh

$2400 per kW is split
$200 per kW for the rectenna,
$900 per kw for the power satellite parts.
That leaves $1300 per kw for transport.

At 6.5kg per kW, that’s $200 per kg about a 100 to 1 reduction over current cost to haul comm sats to GEO.

You cannot build in LEO and fly a power satellite out to GEO on it’s own power, there is too much space junk and takes too long. (Boeing, 1970s, hit 40 times)

Hensons plan is to use Skylon space planes for launching to LEO

Then use arcjets to boost to 2,000 kilometers (above almost all of the space junk)

Designs for these propulsion power satellites use concentrated PV and large radiators to get rid of the waste heat from the 40% efficient cells. Where clouds are rare, (like in space) CPV works better than regular PV

At 2000 km, the stack unfolds to make a propulsion power satellite.