What Exponential Space Capabilities Can Look Like

People know that computers became a multi-trillion dollar industry because it rode the exponential growth in power of Moore’s Law. Aviation also experienced decades of exponential growth and Space has had ten years of exponential growth and is looking at 40 years of exponential growth.

Air passenger travel had decades of exponential growth in passengers.

There were 6,000 airline passengers in the United States recorded in 1926. This grew to approximately 173,000 in 1929 about one million in 1936. Air passenger traffic grew faster in the United States than anywhere else in the world, largely due to superior aircraft and operations methods.

The Boeing 747 was introduced in 1969. In 1974, there were 400 million global air passengers. There were 4.5 billion air passengers in 2019.
In 50 years from 1926-1976, air passenger traffic grew about 100,000 times.
In 43 years from 1976-2019, air passenger traffic grew another 10 times.

Aviation Went Exponential for Fifty Years and So Can Space Transportation

SpaceX is making reusable rockets that are lower cost than passenger airplanes. Passenger airplanes cost about $50 million to $350 million. SpaceX is building the Falcon 9 for about $40 million and the Falcon Heavy for about $80 million. The fully reusable Super Heavy Starship will start at about $200 million and then drop to about $30 million. The upper stage Starship will drop to about $5 million when about 300 are produced every year. Airbus and Boeing were each able to deliver about 1000 passenger jets each year.

The SpaceX Super Heavy Starship will be able to launch 100 tons into orbit in a fully reusable basis, but Elon plans a larger version that will be 4 to 8 times bigger. Elon tweeted that Starship Version 2.0 will be 18 meters in diameter instead of 9 meters. This would mean the area of the cross-section would be 4 times higher. If the height was also doubled then it would have 8 times the volume. The engines would likely be upgraded for the Ultra Heavy Starship 2.0. This means the next rocket might be able to launch over 1000 tons per launch. An ultra-heavy Starship could be mass-produced at a price about $150-250 million.

A 747 had a maximum payload of 130-140 tons. A B52 has 31.5 tons of payload capacity.

Reusable rockets will have ten to thirty times the speed of passenger jets and ten times the capacity if the purchase prices are matched.

Ten Thousand Ultra Heavy Starships to Mars

The world currently has 25,000 passenger planes and this was projected to triple by about 2050. If reusable rockets were to replace passenger planes for long-distance travel then there could reasonably be a market for twenty thousand Starship variants.

If ten thousand ultra-heavies were launched to the Moon and to Mars, then they could bring ten million tons of equipment, habitats, factories and material to each location.

Lighter weight steel construction of high-rise buildings has been achieved in China. Broad Group has built many twenty-story and even a fifty-seven-story building. 270,000 tons of steel would be needed for an older design 200 story Sky-City building. This had an average of 6000 square meters per floor or about 65000 square feet (1.5 acres per floor).

Hollow cylinders of steel have been developed by Broad Group in China. This increases the strength but reduces the weight of construction by 30-60% for buildings, ships, planes and cars. This could lower the requirement for steel down to about 100,000 tons of steel for a large 200 story building. This would have 300 acres of floor space which is almost half a square mile.

Ten million tons of capacity is enough for 2 million people, buildings, supplies, factories and equipment. There will be several gigawatts of solar power and batteries.

It would be easy to create cement production on Mars and the moon. There is water on Mars and the moon. There is literally a frozen ocean on Mars and there is a small frozen lake on the moon.

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Probably 18m for next gen system

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 28, 2019

SOURCES- Elon Musk Twitter, Tovera twitter, Broad Group
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com