Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos would like to see a fully colonized solar system. Bezos also has a rocket company Blue Origin and he has helped fund General Fusion, Canadian nuclear fusion company. Blue Origin moves toward its goal of having “millions of people living and working in space,” the company has launched and landed the same rocket four times in a row, an unprecedented feat aimed at ultimately lowering the cost of space travel. By 2018, it plans to soon fly tourists on short jaunts past the edge of space in capsules designed with large windows.
“I wish there were a trillion humans in the solar system. Think how cool that would be. You’d have a thousand Einsteins at any given moment—and more. There would be so much dynamism with all of that human intelligence. But you can’t do that with the resources on Earth or the energy on earth. So if you really want to see that kind of dynamic civilization as we expand through the solar system, you have to figure out how to safely move around and use resources that you get in space.”
“I think NASA should work on a space-rated nuclear reactor. If you had a nuclear reactor in space– especially if you want to go anywhere beyond Mars, you really need nuclear power. Solar power just gets progressively difficult as you get further way from the sun. And that’s a completely doable thing to have a safe, space-qualified nuclear reactor.”
New Glenn will have 17 million Newtons of thrust from seven engines, about half the lifting power of the Saturn V.
Bezos says he plans to launch the New Glenn rocket by the end of the decade, and hinted at an even bigger rocket to come, called New Armstrong.
The 52 year old Bezos the world’s third-richest man with a net worth of around $67 billion. Bezos is over 5 times richer than Elon Musk ($11.7 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.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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