Other nations know SpaceX has won but the USA could build a lead in space sustainable to 2100

Every other Space Agency in the world knows that SpaceX has won with reusable rockets. All of the existing non-reusable rockets cannot compete. The Japanese, Chinese, Europeans and Russians know that SpaceX is going to take all of the commercial space launch. SpaceX already has over half of the commercial space launch.

The US just needs to kill Space Launch System (SLS) and put the $4 billion per year into incentivizing more flights of SpaceX rockets.

The US could redirect the SLS money to just purchase SpaceX BFR flights and put up thousands of people into space, build a gigawatt of space-based solar power and establish lunar bases and space mining. This would give the US a lead in space that could be sustained until 2100.

In the meantime, SpaceX has proved out first-stage rocket reuse. SpaceX is developing systems to recover the fairings and the second stage. SpaceX should have the 150-ton capacity fully reusable BFR ready in 4 to 5 years.

Now if the US helped purchase the first 12 launches of each SpaceX BFR the costs per kilogram would drop below $200 per kilogram. $200 million worth of SpaceX BFR launches for each new BFR would probably be enough. $4 billion per year worth of Space Launch System budget would support about 20 new SpaceX BFR’s per year. A fleet of 100 SpaceX BFRs would come from $20 billion. This is five years of Space Launch System. Space Launch will not even have its first three tests flights after spending another $20 billion.

Build the first large solar space power generation system. Do not beam power to the ground. Use a gigawatt of power to industrial space.

The 1954 airline industry was moving 5 million tons miles per year.
The 2003 airline industry was moving 5 billion ton miles per year.

Right now the space industry is launching about 500-700 tons per year.

The US spends $60 billion per year on NASA, military and intelligence space programs. This means over $1.8 trillion over 30 years is what would be the expected budget. There is also the commercial space industry and international space efforts.

Putting the $4 billion per year that is being wasted on Space Launch System towards building a gigawatt of Space Based Solar power and the first large space station.

The International Space station cost over $100 billion. The cumulative budget put into the space shuttle program was over $200 billion.

Build a Space construction colony and hotel

Orbital Assembly and the Gateway Foundation are working on a reasonable set of plans and steps to build a space station that is 488 meters in diameter. The initial hub would be 78 meters wide.

The National Space Society has the goal of 100-meter wide space station that weighs 8500 tons. It could house 500 people.

In the NSS Space Settlement as Easier Way, there are Kalpana One space stations which at 450 meters in diameter and 224 meter in width would weigh 170,000 tons and could have about 8000 colonists.

I had described how if 160 double sized Kalpana space stations were built then 2.5 million people could be housed in space. 2.5 million people is the population of the USA in 1776.

The Orbital Assembly videos describe a pathway that would lead to the first large 18000 person colony.

Orbital assembly describes a reasonable system of welding modular segments and then using flying space drones and crawling space drones to move pieces into place and to further weld segments together.

They have selected the main construction material of magnesium nanocomposite for lightweight and strength. There have already been tests of electron beam welding.

They want to use seven layer bora silica glass for the windows. This was used for the ISS (International Space Station) capola window.

Icarus Interstellar had a proposal for 10,000 person worldship. The habitation ring of the ship design could have Bigelow Aerospace inflatable modules attached to a basic frame.

The proposed worldship had 40 modules that were 120 meters by 155 meters. Two Bigelow BA2100 modules that are already designed could be used and provide more space than the space station.

Bigelow has 2100 cubic meter modules designed that are 18 meters by 12 meters. Cruise ship rooms are about 60 cubic meters. A Bigelow BA2100 module could have 15 rooms each. Half the space used for hallway and other purposes. 100 BA2100 modules could comfortably hotel about 1,500 people. Less room is needed for temporary stays than for long-term colonization. The first megabase would be for a more crude hotel and to house people to work on industrializing space.

A SpaceX BFR could launch two BA 2100 modules at a time. The bigelow modules are built on the ground and would only need to be attached to a rotating frame.

About 8 SpaceX BFR launches could be sufficient for an initial 150 person rotating station.

Ten SpaceX launches would provide a 150 person station with one gravity from rotation. Those could be the subsidized launches to get the flight rate up to support lower cost. Three such stations could be built per year including supporting the cost of Bigelow modules.

Priorities would be to establish better in space construction and in space assembly.

The SpaceX BFR seems like it might be ready by 2023. This will likely be ahead of proven large-scale space construction is established.

The beams and materials for construction can thus be brought up with SpaceX BFR cargo delivery.

Moon landings over 50 years ahead of other nations

The moon landings were over 50 years ahead of other nations. Matching Skylab took over 45 years for China to match. If SpaceX succeeds with the BFR it will take 15-40 years for other nations to match it. China is working on a plan that with no schedule slippage would match the BFR in 2040.

If the US presses the BFR advantage to leap ahead with a gigawatt of space-based solar power and the first 1000 people in space colonies and space hotels before 2030, then it would be past 2050 for countries to catch up to that point. Constantly pushing ahead and the US can ride this lead until 2100. This is like the multi-decade dominance of commercial aviation the US had with Boeing and the other aviation companies.

The US had the latter half of the 20th century as its own for space and this was from what was done from 1960-1975. The US then coasted and squandered the lead. The US has another chance and not just lead but fully open space and get more out of it than what was contributed by commercial aviation. It not just leading by being the tallest midget or the fastest turtle.

Boeing 747 and B52s

Over 1500 Boeing 747s were built.

The US also had a sixty year lead with the B52 bomber. China’s newest heavy bombers cannot match the range and payload of the B52. The US did not just build one or two. The US built 744 of B52s. B52s were also built by Boeing.

Hundreds of SpaceX BFR (civilian and military) could follow what the Boeing 747 and Boeing B52 were.

The US has had a twenty-year lead fall into its lap with SpaceX and the BFR. Now just use it to build.

Get there in large numbers, settle and build

The prairie schooners were used to settle the western US from 1820-1840.

40 thoughts on “Other nations know SpaceX has won but the USA could build a lead in space sustainable to 2100”

  1. That isn’t a lead — 50 years or not — on Moon landings. Because w/o SpaceX just about any nation like China, India or even that hodgepodge the EU can land on the Moon if they wanted to.

    So, please join the rest of us in Logic Land.

  2. Oh I would not put it beyond the capabilities for our government to squander any “lead” we may have over other countries. Any government can screw things up no matter how good your engineers are, that is the point of getting government out of the way. They are perfectly capable of keeping the boondoggle SLS in the face of reason and economics, as long as they get their palms greased (in whatever form that greasing takes).

    Other countries can hire SpaceX for services the same as our government does, but SpaceX will need to be very careful that someone doesn’t steal their IP and destroy all their risk and hard work. This will limit what countries they can launch from.

  3. Cognitive dissonance is when you believe two things that contradict each other.
    Rampant psychosis is when you believe utter fantasy which has no connection to anything at all.

  4. We have a 50 year lead on the Moon because within five year our cost to orbit a pound will be below $35, and we can if we choose to ensure wherever follow on countries go, they see Americans there already.

  5. A rather simple way to build a large ‘space station’ would be to get a metal asteroid a few miles across, drill a hole in it, put ice (comet) in the hole, plug the hole, spin it and send it on a close orbit with the sun. The sun would heat the metal orange hot causing the water ice to make steam and blow up the asteroid like a beach ball. This would likely take several orbits to get just right.
    A solid metal hollow sphere several miles across with walls dozens of meters thick would be a great ‘shell’ to build a space station within. It would be very massive and ideal to form the hub of a momentum exchange tether in lunar polar orbit.
    To move comets around small enriched uranium tubes could embed in the comet melt the comet material and exhaust thrust from their back end in a controlled manner. Several dozen such ‘solid state rockets’ could alter the orbit of a comet given enough time.

  6. Given the high cost of launching payloads beyond LEO, it makes sense to get as much food, air, water, etc. as possible from space.
    The lunar lava tubes would be an ideal location to establish farms, and ice in the polar regions of the moon could supply air and water.
    The moon is an ideal stepping stone to the solar system since its low gravity makes getting things on and off of the moon quite easy, using a rail gun or a momentum exchange tether.
    We should do this while our economy can still support the initial investment. Doing so will have an enormous payoff and also be a great benefit to our military capability. We spend billions on fighter programs to penetrate enemy airspace with stealth. There is no proposed way to stop a reentry vehicle. Should we desire to stop an ICBM the time to do it is in the launch phase from space.

  7. Congress would most rather spend the money for Jesus while hastening the Christian Rapture so as to take the 700 members of the Republican Evangelical Caucus and their families to Heaven to gather by the River at the Throne of God and leave the rest of us behind to deal with Satan. I wish they’d go already.

  8. go SpaceX maybe you are the only hope for us humans.
    is it wise to let the nasa crews fly Space X instead o trusted pilots and employes with no government strings/PC NONSENSE and infighting?
    these people never went anywhere before and lied about it for 30 years FGS!!!

  9. “The US could redirect the SLS money to just purchase SpaceX BFR flights and put up thousands of people into space, build a gigawatt of space-based solar power and establish lunar bases and space mining. This would give the US a lead in space that could be sustained until 2100.”

    As SpaceX is a private company, I guess nothing prevents OTHER nations of buying the same amount of SpaceX BFR flights to “put up thousands of people into space, build a gigawatt of space-based solar power and establish lunar bases and space mining”. Which would in turn prevent the US of getting such a lead, even if indirectly it is reaping benefits and money from a local company getting all that money from other nations.

  10. I agree. While SpaceX certainly has rightfully won its current place- don’t let it sit on its laurels. Give the other companies a chance or else that will be bad for everyone else.

  11. Did you somehow attach this to the wrong post? This seems rather irrelevant to the subject of the post.
    Does Vuukle sometimes put comments on a post the commenter didn’t intend?

  12. Please do not forget to give credit to James Buchanan Eads, designer and promoter of the St. Louis Mississippi River Bridge. It was his single minded dedication to his concept of the Mississippi River as the Gateway to America’s heartland that made the bridge a reality. In fact, Andrew Carnegie given his power to create new types steel that could meet the specifications Eads required, held the project hostage with continuous delays and price increases for his products and nearly prevented the completion of the project. A true Robber Baron.

  13. But either way, some will still be more successful in their environment than others. That’s the point. Let that be determined by demonstration, rather than a decision from above.

  14. “Give Darwin a chance to do his work…”

    Darwin relied on random, unguided processes as the creative force. Hopefully our competition will be intelligently designed.

  15. I think the best idea right now, is to put up a station with bunches of BA-2100 modules. According to the Wikipedia article for the BA2100, each one is rated to house up to 16 people at one time. You could easily, for about $100 billion(5 billion per year, for the next 20 years), build a station that could house 400 people. That station would be built from 25 Bigelow modules. Now, I would say, lets use the BA-330 modules as corridors between the each segment(there are 5 segments, so we need 10 BA-330 modules, 2 per segment, to connect them at both the forward and aft parts of the ship), that gives you more space right there if needed. Then you just need a way to rotate the station for artificial gravity. Such a station probably gets your crew capacity close to the minimum needed to have enough genetic material to re-start human civilization, if it was needed.

  16. How much do you spend in lobbyists to have lots of face time with almost every member of both houses of Congress, Comb? How much pork do you deliver to every NASA/ULA heavy Congressional district there is? How much in donations either directly or indirectly via PACs?

    Yeah, just as I thought. Keep dreamin’ about that Moon colonization…

  17. Have a lead up to 2100? 50 years ahead in Moon landings? Right. Lot of bombastic Silicon Valley-like BS in this article.

    All it takes is one country to land on the Moon and those 50 years evaporate completely. Same for some other nation/megacorp building a reusable launch system. The Way to Both have been/are going to be very well demonstrated, after all.

    “…$4 billion per year that is being wasted on Space Launch System…”

    Not it isn’t. Not to Congress. To Congress, the true waste is the money spent on SpaceX. Not the other way around. Learn how DC REALY works.

  18. “The US just needs to kill Space Launch System (SLS) and put the $4 billion per year into incentivizing more flights of SpaceX rockets.”

    Not quite. Substitute ‘SpaceX’ with ‘commercial.’

    If that ends up *being* mostly SpaceX, fine. But Blue Origin is out there, coming fast, and ULA (and others) may yet ‘get religion.’

    The point is, don’t pick winners. Give Darwin a chance to do his work…

  19. You can’t just redesign an expendable rocket to be reusable.

    The liquid engines are not meant to be reused- PERIOD. There is no mechanism to recover the tanks- PERIOD.

    SLS needs to be killed. Move every dollar over to colonization of the moon.

  20. That’s a huge waste of tax payer money. The US has two SpaceX and Blue Origins (though Blue Origin won’t launch before 2020.) If Boeing wants to have a stab a this market they should finance it at their own expense.

  21. I concur. But if such government/societal cowardice and bureaucratic nearsightedness doesn’t get in the way and starts banning things, it will become inconsequential.

    Happily, all these things Brian describe are based on “acceptable” technologies and activities. No nuclear bogeymen to scare us off. No cold war or red scare to fend off the growth of free enterprise. The Luddites, interest groups and other usual suspects will have a tough time finding a way to ban progress this time.

    The biggest such surrendering the USA did was relinquishing its leadership on nuclear power, out of fear for nuclear proliferation and the prospect of war, then due to cynical manipulation of government by interest groups using proxy fake activism.

    And this could also put us out of reach of the global warming pious scaremongering cabal. Even if they try to make a stinker about “so many rockets tearing the atmosphere apart” or some such.

    Overall, it’s shaping to be a big tidal change coming over the existing societal structures and inertias, toppling them or making them inconsequential.

  22. No. The should redesign the SLS for reusability as deep as the redesign needs to go and incentivize other space companies to work on reusability.

  23. Yep, the stage is set for space dominance and settlement spearheaded by the USA by several years/decades.

    And this should provide the impulse the rest of the world needs to take such things seriously. Even if it takes them 10,20 or more years to catch up to what will exist in the next few years in the USA.

    It’s interesting to see the wheels and cogs of history move with such slow, yet surprising deliberation.

    But if the rest of the world wants a part on this upcoming pie, they will have to build their own boats, or ride along the USA and its interests.

    Because there will be all kinds of persons, institutions and companies, with all kinds of backgrounds and nationalities, wiling to pay for a ride and be present along whatever America does, profiting from the existing experience, capability and yes, even from the upcoming military presence. That’s the way American entrepreneurship and leadership improves the world at large, regardless of the complaints.

  24. This is the sort of “black swan” scenario which is basically our only hope of escaping the hole we dug with a couple generations of deficit spending and technological cowardice. We could embrace the future and make it our’s.

    The biggest challenge isn’t technological, it’s the fundamental cowardice of our governing class.

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