True commercial success is clearly emerging for the space industry. Space enthusiasts are fortunate that Elon Musk and other true believers in the future of space are leading the way.
From the late 1960s to the 1970s, there was hope for a space boom. This era had the L5 Society and the idea that there would be orbital and Lagrange point colonization and space power satellites. The predicted space boom did not happen because space access and space systems were not made affordable. The Apollo, Starlab era was killed with the bureaucracy that created insanely expensive systems. The Space Shuttle was supposed to be the beginnings of affordable space with a planned $5 million per launch cost. However, the Space shuttles ended up costing over $1 billion per launch.
This time rocket launch and satellite construction costs have been continually improving for the last 6+ years so that there is a proper foundation for continued profits and new business models. Satellites are dropping below a million per satellite and launch costs are dropping below $50 million for 20 tons and soon $10-20 million for 100 tons.
$5.7B was invested into 80 space companies in Q42020. There has been $177.7B of equity investment into 1,343 unique companies in the space economy over the past 10 years. $25.6B was invested in 2020. $9.4B went to U.S. companies, representing 6% of the $156.2B in total venture dollars invested during the year, according to data from Pitchbook and NVCA.
Prices will continue to drop and SpaceX and other space companies are establishing very profitable businesses. Profits and revenues will make this a permanent space boom.
The greatest value from space will be transforming the technology and economy of the world.
Starlink Space Communication – Gigabit and multi-gigabit internet access all over the world. SpaceX’s current and next generation Starlink will move up from 300 Mbps and 20-millisecond latency at the end of this year towards multi-gigabit access over the next 5 years.
How SpaceX Starlink could displace terrestrial fiber optics in the 2030s?
The average cost to build a cell tower is about $175,000, but the cell tower lease cost is $45,000 per year. The cellphone companies do not own most of the land where the celltower sits. They have to pay rent.
The Starlink satellites have launch costs but do not have lease costs. The SpaceX Super Heavy Starship could launch 600 Starlink satellites at one time. A $12 million Starship Super Heavy launch could bring the per satellite launch cost down to $50,000.
There are 5 million cellphone towers in the world. The potential exists for Starlink satellites to replace cellphone towers on a one-for-one basis.
Low earth orbit satellites have the advantage that light travels about 1.5 times faster in the vacuum of space compared to the light in a fiber glass fiber. Any transmission over 3000 miles will be faster via the low earth orbit satellite communication network.
Cargo Planes and then Passenger Air Travel
The reality of SpaceX mass production rockets is unfolding before our eyes. SpaceX Starships will cost over ten times less than current cargo planes, have over twice the range and will be thirty times faster. These massive advantages will give SpaceX dominance of the cargo business.
The global cargo airline industry generated revenue streams of $117.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 and is projected to make $140 billion in 2021.
The commercial rocket launch market is about $10 billion each year.
SpaceX will be able to make ten times more from point to point cargo delivery on earth than from the space launch industry.
SpaceX already dominates the commercial rocket launch business with over 60% market share.
SpaceX will create a new category of rocket air delivery for same-day international deliveries and four to six-hour delivery between continents or from east coast to west coast.
The rocket cargo delivery business will be comparable to the eventual global Starlink internet revenue.
Air cargo will be a training area where SpaceX will master volume operations and improve operational safety. Eventually, SpaceX will achieve the safety needed to move people. They will prove safety by safely flying a few thousand cargo Starships hundreds of times a year. In a normal year, commercial passenger air travel is a $600 billion a year business.
Thousands of Reusuable Starships Makes Industrializing Earth Orbit and Colonization Trivial
Thousands of reusable Starship makes it D-day invasion scale colonization.
Within five days of landing in Normandy, the Allies had landed 326,547 troops, 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies. In the weeks that would follow the two huge pre-fabricated Mulberry Harbours would be constructed. It had taken 55,000 workers more than 6 months to construct the components, using 210,000 tons of steel and 1,000,000 tons of concrete. The harbor in the American sector – “Mulberry A” – was all but destroyed by a huge storm on 19th June, but the surviving “Mulberry B” port at Arromanches would operate for 10 months despite only be envisaged to operate for three. The Mulberries cost £40,000,000 to construct and transport across the Channel, but “Mulberry B” (also known as Port Winston) would see the unloading of approximately 2,500,000 men, 500,000 vehicles and 4,000,000 tons of supplies.
1000 Starships flying once per day to orbit = 120,000 tons per day. It would take 35 days to put 4 million tons into earth orbit.
After the Normandy Factory and Port Beachheads in Orbit and the Moon
Lunar and orbital cities will be made to house workers, build factories, build power plants and other industrial capabilities. This will further reduce costs by 10-20 times because water, energy and metals will be generated in space for space usage.
We can then build the nuclear power plants, nuclear drives and laser array propulsion systems in orbit and on the moon.
The nuclear bomb-powered Project Orion was a program in the 1950s and 1960s. They did use tin cans of C4 to verify that pulse propulsion would work. They were concerned about the nuclear weapons treaties and the fallout radiation from launching using nuclear bombs from the earth. Project Orion built on the moon would not have any fallout radiation concerns. The radiation would never be in the atmosphere.
Scaled up Project Orion rockets could achieve up to 3% of the speed of light with improved deuterium nuclear devices.
More straight forward early Project Orion would be a 10,000 ton version that could reach about 100 kilometers per second. This would only be about 5-6 times faster the Pluto Express flyby. The Pluto express had to use gravity slingshots.
Project Rho has the specs and details on Project Orion versions.
A 10,000 ton Project Orion would be two times the mass of fully fueled SpaceX Super Heavy Starship. 100 km/second is 21 AU per year. We would want to get the optimizations for 1000 km/second and beyond. If we cannot get well beyond 100 km/second easily then this would not be that useful. The Advanced Interstellar Orion could add about 100 km/second for each stage. A two-stage advanced Orion could reach 200 km/second and likely weigh about 30,000 tons. A three-stage large Orion could then reach 300 km/second. This would likely be about 100,000 tons.
The other approach for massively speeding up solar system space travel would be make multi-gigawatt power stations to drive massive arrays of lasers for laser pushed sails. Massive multi-gigawatt laser arrays would be built all over the solar system to accelerate and decelerate the vehicles. Massive lasers could also send power to lithium-ion drives which could achieve 60,000 ISP.
People could complain but what about the weaponization of space?
Many people would not have noticed but I just said there would be thousands of SpaceX Starships and Super Heavy Starships. Those vehicles fly at mach 20 to mach 30. This is roughly ten times faster then the SR71 Blackbird spyplane. They would each have payload capacities in the 80-200 ton range. This is 2 to 7 times a b52 bomb load. A B52 carries up to about 30 tons of bombs and missiles.
I also indicated that over 3 million tons of material would be put into orbit every month.
Kinetic Damage from Orbital Bombardment
The US Air Force and Navy looked closely at tungsten rod kinetic energy weapons on several occasions. A 47 page Congressional Research Bureau report Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues was written by Amy F. Woolf, Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy.
If it cost $100 per pound to launch a 12-ton rod then each rod would cost $2.4 million. Tungsten costs about $20 per pound and there are reserves of about 3.5 million tons. There are 90 million tons of lead reserves. Tungsten shells could cover the lead. Lead costs 20 to 70 cents per pound. A fully deployed tungsten rod would be about $3 million each.
The Navy considered two types of warheads in the near term for kinetic weapons. One warhead would be designed to destroy or disable area targets like airfields or buildings, using a reentry vehicle loaded with tungsten rods—known as flechettes—that would rain down on the target and destroy everything within an area of up to 3,000 square feet.
It seems the 3000 square foot area destruction estimate seems low. If a tungsten cylinder contained 1 pound bullet-sized pieces of shrapnel, then there would be about 20,000 fragments inside. Each would be hitting with hypersonic speed. If there was even distribution then they would be hitting 144 X 144 across some area. Each one would hit like a few sticks of dynamite. Each would take out about 30 square feet.
So one rod with 144 by 144 pieces would take out about 800 feet by 800 feet. 36 rods would pulverize a square mile with the kinetic equivalent of high explosive. Ten thousand rods could be launched every day with once-daily launches of a fleet of one thousand SpaceX Super Heavy Starships.
Nuclear Missiles Obsolete
The kinetic systems would have all the damage of nuclear weapons but the option for more precision and no fallout radiation.
Conventional ICBMs would be obsolete. Currently, an anti-missile system has to either chase down a missile in boost phase. A destroyer with anti-missiles could be stationed 100 miles away from a North Korean launch site and then the anti-missile would chase down the North Korean ICBM. The alternative is to wait for the missile to come towards its target and hit it mid-flight.
Kinetic rods and lead balls raining down on a launch site would hit any missile or plane as it is taking off. Drop 40 rods and anything in a square mile gets wiped out. Your satellite overhead waits for the launch and within 20 seconds crushes what is trying to launch. ICBM boost phase getting to 100,000 feet of altitude takes about 60 seconds.
Satellites will detect a launch within 5 seconds and launch the kinetic counter within 2 more seconds. A hypersonic flight of 20-30 seconds and any launching ICBM gets taken out.
Use Obsolete Nuclear Bombs for Project Orions
It will probably take decades before planners accept that nuclear weapons have been made obsolete from the space revolution. The correct and obvious choice for using nuclear materials for moon launched Project Orions may not be made. It would be correct choice for a rapid buildout of advanced solar system space travel.
SOURCES – wikipedia, Brian Wang analysis, Youtube
Written by Brian Wang, Nextbgfuture.com
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.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.
109 thoughts on “Sustainable Space Boom Will Transform the World and then The Solar System”
"The predicted space boom did not happen because space access and space systems were not made affordable."
The most important and most often unreported or acknowledged fact of the space age is that it didn't just wither and die out of neglect, it was actively killed by political and financial interests.
The only reason we don't have large-scale things going on us the same reason large cheap reliable boosters aren't available. Its not the infamous false chicken/egg paradox that says boosters aren't built because there's no market for them and there's no market of in-space infrastructure because there's no boosters because there's no market for them because there's nothing big happening in space because there are no boosters… Ad Nauseum.
The only reason we don't have things going on in space is because politicians and the CEOs and financiers who own them decided that we're not doing it.
Before Musk or Bezos can change that, the underlying disfavor accorded to large-scale efforts in space has to be busted.
There has always been superiority in military ability and in vast financial incentives to be in space.
That this article and virtually all other media ignores NEO metals as the first primary target of interest in space, is telling.
Space tourism whether it's a resort on Mars or suborbital hops, is insignificant financial gain in comparison, as is Starlink selling internet access.
Peanuts compared to monetary metals from NEOs.
Embrace something that bites?
Not following the logic there.
The first mover costs were always the primary barrier and not launch costs. Solving launch costs was always the low hanging fruit that needed to be picked before the path forward could become clear.
Luckily, private interests will get the opportunity to free ride after public dollars pave the metaphorical roads, it's the natural order of things.
Hayes called that a “huge neurosis” and predicted the increasingly ugly battle will only get more heated.
No, he is not talking about you, but could be.
Exactly. From the start (70s), Janov provided photos and other proof of such changes in patients. They are common. He said the changes were so profound that they could only be on the cellular level, not the nervous system only. Later on, this was discovered to be epigenetic changes, once epigenetics was better understood in general. True revolutionary science!
The Physics is the same, read the comments in your cite for details.
You did not read the comments in the cite you provided?
Hahaha Dan! You got to be trolling me!
"epeigenetic permanent major physiological changes, which is common during birth trauma therapy, it is impossible to deny".
Nice one! Hahaha!
Dan, are you on something right now? Transmitting less than 0.001 of a percent is bad, not good. It's an experimental refutation, not confirmation, of power beaming. Capisce?
Dan, recieving radio is not the same as sending a power beam. If you get a few micro-watts, then that is fine for radio. In power beaming, you need all the power to end up in the "rectenna field". Don't you know this?
So, a normal radio broadcasting can be made isotropically, whereas the power beam needs a divergence of less than 0.001 degrees.
The latter requires orders of magnitude better phase detection, phase measurement, phase shifter, less noise, less phase jitter, less phase drift a.s.o.
That is why experimental data is so important. If we are adding a "zero" to the maximum distance that a power beam has been transmitted every few years, mabey there is a chance. If not, there is probably no chance.
Right now, it looks like there is no real progress and that the state of the art is several orders of magnitude worse than what is required. Unless, of course, you can show me any real practical progress….
Glad you know about this now. Welcome to the large crowd that already does. Mankins is the NSS space solar guy, and seems to be threatened by LSP because, perhaps, LSP uses multiple beams, whereas Mankins uses one big beam per sat. But who knows. Thanx for the 2009 cite from leading science journal! I WILL be using quotes from it to support Space Solar! The comments are excellent, btw.
Har! YOU want less talk about hard science!!! Primal Science uses the experimenters'/patients' own body to record the experimental results. In softer sciences, such as Physics, there is considerable inference from equipment required, the sort of thing you won't accept, as we know! When epeigenetic permanent major physiological changes happen, which is common during birth trauma therapy, it is impossible to deny. Try it!
Your radio gets even less, yet it uses phased array prob, to send energy. You admit the stuff works as the math describes, so accept that the math will work in the future. You have made no argument that would change anybody's research in this field, one of vast importance. So, you have lost. But you do have belief!
from "Beyond Belief": Dr. Arthur Janov examines the power of beliefs and how they are used as a
mechanism for dealing with early trauma that goes as far back as birth.
Beliefs are a way to rationalize with pain rooted deep in the
unconscious, and reveal that love is a biological need.
How about less talk about neurotics and more talk about the technology/physics? You don't seem to know very much about the technical details of Space solar nor the actual experimental data, so perhaps you should spend your efforts there instead of recommending therapies..? Just a thought…
How about this claim, Dan? According to , the experiment on Hawai transmitted 10^-5 of the energy!
This is the comment from "New Atlas":
"Unfortunately for Space Energy, Inc and the entire concept of space based solar power, the actual test results conducted for a Discovery channel documentary proved a total failure. The former NASA executive and physicist who organized the experiment, John Mankins, admitted in a press conference that the $1 Million budget spent of the experiment resulted in less than 1/1000th of 1% of the power transmitted being received on the other island."
Please tell me that his is not the best evidence you have that power beaming might work? Is this really sufficient information for you to believe in a technology?
For your information: I don't count this as a demonstration, so there is still no datapoint for more than a few km. Even you must acknowledge that 10^-5 is so low as to render the experiment meaningless.
You are not making any useful claims. All science is uncertain. All science assumes that the experiment will work the same way *next time* as it always has. This is not provable, therefore the prediction is uncertain. Just say this every time, instead of picking on another uncertain thing. All you do is show that you have not studied the doc enuf to make any claims, certainly not any that would change what anybody doing anything useful does. So study and present stuff, don't bother busy people with your stupid stuff. It is a good example of neurosis, I must admit.
Well.. If all the data points to a missing factor of 1000 or more in range, would you not agree that the tech seems improbable or the very least uncertain? Even if something is theoretically possible, it does not mean that it technologically possible.
And that is why the measurements are so important. These will sum up what is possible at this time and tell us how much the "gap" is to a useful system.
Anyhow, I'll see if I can dig out the Hawaii data and return with the conclusion. If there are no numbers, then that is also telling, isn't it?
Very delicate. I'm in my 60's, and don't have such a great memory anymore, blast it. I didn't remember until you pointed it out, I was thinking of the article at Centauri Dreams.
Wow, very temporary comment thread!
Most investors with risk management can get 5-8% returns. 9-15% returns are consistently achieved by some. Higher returns are possible.
Nasdaq100 – 15% annual returns for past 5 years
Angel investors usually 7-15% of portfolio in startups
ARKX – new Ark Invest space fund starting soon
Space Angels for space investments.
SpaceX investments via SPV are possible for those who are qualified investors.
UFO – space ETF. 28.7% annual return.
I believe yours is an unrealistic hope. You aren't going to change human nature. You should make plans that take human nature into account.
I don't understand the point of the "catch net" you mention, but that might be a minor point.
The biggest barrier is, I believe, that getting public acceptance of the huge noise a rocket launch makes. People complain about airport noise today. It would be much worse with rockets. Moving the launch/landing location far enough away from population to avoid that problem would, I imagine, make it impractical. I very much doubt all the talk of using Starship for point-to-point transport on Earth.
Ok so an ICBM launches, and 30 seconds later the launch site gets wiped out. But the missile is at high altitude by then. All those dynamite-scale explosions are miles below. The only way the tungsten rods stop a missile is if they happen to hit it directly; they have no explosives, so there's no blast radius until they hit the ground.
The Hawaii beam was that long, or near. You seem to have the mystical idea that if I can't prove something to your satisfaction that you have disproven the basic tech. Neurotics are all the same.
Now I have checked out the link. You reposted exactly the same as before, in which I could not find data from any experiment beyond a few km. The exception is the recent Northrop Grumman experiment where the scientists have tried to beam power from "in orbit", but there is no data available telling us the orbital height, the power transmitted, the effiency, angular control etc. I.e. zero evidence. IIt really comes down to what they have demonstrated, Dan, would you not agree?
Just look at figure 2 where the authors have plotted selected experiments. The maximum transmission distance is about 2000 meters in that figure. I've also perused the text and found no instance of power beaming over greater distances than a few km. But if I am wrong, why don't you just point me to the experiment where someone has successfully beamed power over, say, 100 km? Or any multi km beaming where the power transfer factor is known?
Well, when you wrote that "china might be right" above, there is a lot that china does that is not really stopping people from commiting petty crime or supressing phychopaths. But perhaps you were *only* thinking about those things?
If we have guns pointed toward outer space, some fool will inevitably turn them toward Earth. "For our protection".
Don't put any guns in space.
Look at the Death Star in the movies. What was the point of that big gun in space? For the Empire to use against its own people of course.
What other possible purpose could it serve?
Humans are inbred, having been down to about 2,000 eventual *survivors* only ~70,000 years ago. Almost all differences are epigenetic sex related settings that are not important. The health of a species is in diversity, which we sorely lack, having killed off all near relatives too. Janov has the new stuff, why we are not like other life. Why only human males harm females intentionally. Why human females abuse their babies. Need to make a change, folks! "Once understood, the System must be destroyed." -Janov
Well, you are in a way pointing out why these are NOT exciting, they are established things. "the excitement should be about the near non-existence of anything else and the prospects of that changing." Now, I have been excited about those very things for over 40 years, so to see the 50 year delay that revolutionary ideas such as O'Neill's seemingly must endure come to an end is true excitement. Space is Space, not planets. edit: while a true economic boom can happen with these established things, that boom is tiny compared to the non launch space boom, factories in Space, not product launched. If only we had seen what was on the Moon in the 80s!
There has been successful launch provided for years, just not one company. He is making a bigger point. Read the comments here, and even with Brian's explicit mention: "This will further reduce costs by 10-20 times because water, energy and metals will be generated in space for space usage." there is little or no understanding of 70s O'Neill plans. The ones that say Space is too dangerous or hard compared to Earth. WOW! What could be more dangerous than everybody stuck on Earth with a bunch of power addicts running countries? Or the ones who can't see making any money there. Much has changed. Just think of the lack of discussion about Mars we are having!
Platinum etc. is a *bit* more than theoretical.
Platinum group elements (PGE) are 'siderophile' ie: they tend to go into metallic iron if possible. Metallic meteorites are enriched in PGE compared to the earth's crust.
Exploring this asteroid https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16_Psyche
will tell us whether mining asteroids for PGE can be economic.
Placing guns in space and pointing them on human beings/towards Earth would be most pathetic thing ever and I am not sure that we deserve this kind of technology while still having such mindset. We really need to grow up and end with this tribalism nonsense. We are all the same, one HUMAN civilization. People forget that we all have the same root – first cell – and we all grew from this one, first cell. We are ONE
Some kind of global, international Earth protection system – guns pointed towards outer space yes, but not towards Earth
You might want to write an article tackling Thunderf00t's anti-SpaceX crusade (actually, anti Elon Musk) videos.
Despite trying to sound the rational skeptic, there is plenty of bad math, wrong facts, etc there. Including him saying the Space Shuttle cost the same per kilogram to LEO as Falcon 9
All neurotics are the same. primaltherapy dot com
Lots of staging, perhaps 😉 A standard Teller-Ulam device has an average particle velocity of about 3,000 km/s, which might push an Orion with an effective velocity of a fraction of that. Perhaps 750-1,500 km/s. Thus a 10-20 fold velocity increase is needed. Maybe 5 stages?
Dan, a lot of smart people are doing dumb things, so that is hardly evidence that it will work
Hi Brian. The energy limited Orion wasn't staged. And he kept the Momentum Limited version to 3 gee thrust, with a mass-ratio of just 4 – a mission delta-vee of 20,000 km/s, with an exhaust velocity of 15,000 km/s. He was arguing in terms of energy efficiency in order to compute when an interstellar Orion would be equivalent to a Saturn V in terms of fraction of Global energy consumption. Not speed. Total mission energy.
If it could work like lightning, sure. If they get a 5 minute warning, say goodbye to Seoul and a lot of Israel, using conventional means.
WE have been discussing the cost of SSP for over 40 years, so your permission is not required. YOU are not even looking at the above doc. If that does not "makes solar power plausible" to you, you are alone. You are making extraordinary claims about generations of smart people. You are implausible.
I think Alfred Bester had it more or less depicted in the 50s.
Every political leaning and variation can be tested on the settlements, from the reasonable to the flat out crazy. The most stupid will die off (literally), the viable ones will survive.
But my hunch is the most successful ones will tend to be harsh with antisocial behaviors and psychopaths.
Do you have any proof that he generally hates technology, other than that he does not think that the space industry will boom?
Last time we had this discussion, you referred to sources with some examples of power beaming. The only examples of demonstrated power beaming in those sources had a range of a few km. There were a couple of experiments with larger ranges, the latest of which was the experiment by Northrop Grumman, but for those experiments there was no data on the result other than some scientist saying that this "makes solar power plausible", whatever that means.
So you basically have to demonstrate a factor of 1000 longer power beaming range before anyone should take this seriously. GEO is about 36000 km from the earths surface, after all. L5 is even farther away, 384000 km. And when that is done, we can start to discuss the cost….
I agree that it will be even easier to oppress people in space than on earth and that China is likely going to be able to continue their totalitarian regime there. I also agree that there will most likely by less acceptance of vandalism and petty crime.
But I don't agree that it would be necessary to enforce all social "norms" to a higher degree than on earth. Is it really necessary to have all space settlers sclebrate transgenderism to make a colony work? Social justice?
I am not saying that this is not what will end up happening, I'm just saying that anyone imposing that on the settlers is not doing something that is actually useful for the survival of the colony. I.e. such social control is not necessary, it's a choice.
Yes! Nuclear, and let's use the iterative design method we are all so fond of to get it into space.
Now, that is some good advice.
"make multi-gigawatt power stations to drive massive arrays of lasers for laser pushed sails." Big time space solar power, so the little stuff to solve global weirding should be no big prob, and make some $$$ too!
There are already many. Complex crystals of life proteins, organs grown from a few stem cells, alloys of dissimilar density metals, on and on! The 0 g lab in ISS cannot meet demand, now that the modules for experiments are working better. Or, just moving stuff around in a factory. We have many iron type meteors, so the Platinum is a measured thing. The free energy helps too, as well as free vacuum, free cold, easy 'fuges, and, if you need it, easy g.
Platinum: Has anyone ever actually found any platinum in space? Or is this just theoretical? What process could have concentrated platinum group metals in an environment with no water and little gravity?
He3: As far as I know, none of the leading fusion tech schemes think there is any need for He3. So that's a small possibility IF fusion ever gets practicable, so small possibility multiplied by another small possibility.
And I wait to hear about any manufacturing technique that works better in space. There are certainly possibilities that people theorize about, but only a couple of indications that anyone might have found one.
But launch providers haven't been successful for 50 years. SpaceX is the first large scale commercial launch provider. (A couple of tiny ones like Pegasus space launch, but they were not 50 years ago either.)
The Hudson Trading Company made a lot of people very rich. And the Scottish Darien Scheme sent the entire country of Scotland into a financial crisis that they only escaped by being taken over by England.
Just because an overall area of investment will eventually prove profitable on average does nothing to disprove that right now the opportunity on offer is a failure.
If the 1600s is a bit too long ago, just remember back to the 1990s. Google ended up worth a $Trillion, but Pets.com lost every cent invested. Enron lost MORE than was invested.
Luckily we live in a world where most worthwhile places to live, work, and create are not primarily composed of for-profit entities and that most worthwhile research does not depend on such things to get thoughtful concepts and early prototyping realized — happily short of large-scale release. Yay for angel investors, gov't supported educational institutions, and other NGOs.
Direct TV makes about $40 billion per year in revenue for satellite TV. Satellite TV is about $80 billion per year and satellite internet geosync is about $10 billion per year. SpaceX Starlink will be $100 billion per year and will also be able to provide more accurate GPS. The non-launch business is already about $340 billion per year. SpaceX putting up satellites that are vastly superior in a proven market (satellite internet) will capture that market and carve out rural internet and get $100 billion per year with high profitability. Businesses providing valuable services for the global $100 trillion economy is where value will be generated. Thus taking over air cargo, military markets, sensing and imaging markets etc… A true economic boom happens without colonization. It is point to point cargo delivery and it is turning the world into a place with energy, internet and millimeter positioning beamed everywhere to increase the productivity and value self driving cars, planes, ships, drones and robots, buildings, devices etc…
When launching huge, billion dollar stuff like satellite systems, there are always other considerations in addition to pure price per launch.
I'm not saying that everyone is making the correct choice. I'm just saying that you'd probably need a careful investigation of each case, including access to details that are not public, to decide whether they were making the correct choice.
Direct TV makes about $40 billion per year in revenue for satellite TV. Satellite TV is about $80 billion per year and satellite internet geosync is about $10 billion per year. SpaceX starlink will be $100 billion per year and will also be able to provide more accurate GPS. The non-launch business is already about $340 billion per year.
Agreed. The ability to create an 'extract/ refine/ fabricate/ erect' system to simply 'spit out' parts and assemble an enclosure/ tunnel/ structure/ burrow/ cleared-space with fundamental occupiable spaces and possibly simple rough-ins for utilities could make the next part of autonomus set-up. Transforming regolith into a building material to create an adobe-like site with minimal material binders from earth must be some kind of research project that has provided definite prototypes eligible to be further developed. An entire eco-system of almost like camping of what minimal necessary ingredients to up-build a development – the more autonomous the better. An autonomously built encampment – must be an X-prize for that. This type of low-human involvement could definitely be the impetus to an infrastructure 'start' – with several places on earth to test autonmous base building.
That's a whole lot of assertions. What about space power is infeasible? Solar panels clearly work in space–that's how most spacecraft are powered.
There is absolutely nothing impossible about mining platinum from asteroids and returning it to earth. 30 tonnes of platinum is worth a billion dollars. Sufficiently cheap access to space and advanced robotics should be able to be deployed to an asteroid and return the valuable minerals for less than $1B. They may not be near-term economic possibilities, but they are clearly not impossible.
We had Dr. Christopher Limbach come on this site and discuss this with us a couple of years ago.
(Yes, I know Brett knows this, he was in the discussion. I'm mentioning it for others who may not have been around back then.)
Thank you for the advice, and I do not believe you are incorrect. The majority of these investments, I have allocated 90%, are going into a normal investment portfolio of stocks, ETF/index and real estate and 10% space related. I just believe that the greatest potential for growth will eventually be space related, and at that time my children will have to decide on allocation. My job is to make sure they are set up for that. I am a long term thinker with a healthy appreciation for the 6 P's.
The importance of Primal Science, the understanding and cure of power addiction, is clear. Our tech to go to Space is the same tech, science, that will destroy the power addicts' system(s). Childhood PTSD, ACEs, epigenetics, gene expression, birth trauma, important, causal things to understand. Neurotics are capable of doing anything.
Probably the best historical analogy for early space settlers would be early oceanic explorers.
Not the life of independent farmers that ensued once (if) they ended up on a rich, agriculturally suitable, land. But life on the ships themselves.
Crowded, very busy, and either the cat-o-nine-tails for anyone who got out of line, or the whole ship sinks/is becalmed/hits the rocks/gets scurvy or a dozen other ways to disappear at sea.
I have no problem with taking risks, but I offer that one should only engage in risky behavior when there is a reasonable chance of success. right now, except for space X no company has a viable business model for space investment, ergo the risk to you is very high. Why not wait a few years and let the market mature. then invest when it's less risky. Remember Roanoke (which failed in 1585) and remember the Pilgrims in 1619 (who thrived). One had a viable plan for colonization. the other didn't.
Okay, I give. But you may want to instead put your money where will it grow the best over the next 10-15 years. Then, when (and if) space starts to take off, then switch your investment strategy there. You'll have more money to invest then because the "earth" market will grow much more in the next 15 years then "space" will. In the end, you get exactly what you want – a profitable investment in space.
Cannot argue with that statement, and I also do not believe I am always the best at picking out which will likely succeed and won't. I am a firm believer in sector stocks or others like ARKK, with people whose job it is to pick winners.
My future focus is space because I believe that is where the most disruption and/or opportunity will exist in the future for my children. My main focus is tax free, long term compound interest and no fees for them to enable maximum growth potential and set them up for that eventual growth explosion. It will not happen today, or by 2070, but they have 70+ years to invest with. In that time frame a lot can happen.
"The predicted space boom did not happen because space access and space systems were not made affordable." A pretty good boom in Mars rovers and Mars centric (ISS) stuff happened, but ZERO for the O'Neill stuff you are now seeing. No rovers on the Moon is more than expensive launch costs.
No complaints at all. I do want the market to succeed, and I do believe it will for many different reasons.
I would not sit in safe Europe, I would take the risky dangerous voyage to the New World for a likely failure rate. It takes all types to expand to new frontiers, but without it we would still be living in caves in South Africa instead of risking to desert to find Europe.
Where would we be today? Here, since someone else would have eventually discovered the new world.
Columbus was a bad investment, just like the space market is today. Neither had a viable plan. And that is my whole point – you are better off waiting until someone develops one. Sooner or later a new Hudson Company may come around, but so far no one has come up with a viable business model.
Sorry buddy, reality bites. Embrace reality!
Oh yes, I quite agree. It's your decision to waste your money. I quite enjoy watching people make poor decisions based on wishful thinking. You want the "space" market to succeed. You are making the same mistake that so many others have made – making a decision based on what you want to happen, and not on reality. By all means, please do. But don't complain about it when you lose every cent!
Exactly, but without them where would we be today? If I were investing for myself, it would be a fools errand. For someone willing to invest in the corporations that came later, and who has the time to see it like my children, the potential is as massive as North America in 1700. The Hudson Trading Company made a lot of people very very rich, and that is just one example.
Interesting thought experiment:
Let's say a super heavy holds 150 metric tons of cargo (could possibly be more). If the cost per launch is $15 million, then the cost per pound of cargo is ~$45. ($15000000/330000=$45)
$45 for 1 lb of cargo is interesting price point, especially if the whole rocket is reusable. Build big catch net and distribution center next to large cities, especially ones with ocean/sea fronts. Unload cargo, and use trucks to distribute cargo to large cities. Refuel and reload rocket, and then launch rocket to next destination. Granted, this would require a lot of work to get: 1. rocket launchpad with 2. catch net and 3. distribution center permited and built all on one site, but I know a lot of politicians and cities who would fight for the prestige of having something like this for their city.
FedEx, UPS, DHL could make money off of 1-2 day delivery of high value documents and parts. Walmart might be interested, governments might be interested.
What do you think?
That is my decision, and dollar, to make the bet on. You may not see any future there, but I do and so do many others. It will not happen immediately, it will take many more decades, but it is my belief it will. They are not invested exclusively or even majority in space, but it is a significant portion of their investment portfolio. That percentage will likely increase in the future as new opportunities unfold. The point for me as well is to do my part to help push the boundaries of what they will be able to accomplish, where my family will be able to expand to, with the right vision training and opportunity.
The future happens, just not usually as we see it, but it is only a matter of time.
Columbus died a pauper. His investors sued him for the money he owed that financed his voyages. No one made a profit in the new world until Cortez conquered the Aztecs and took all their gold. And it wasn't until over a hundred years later that the Jamestown colony was able to turn a profit for its investors.
Also, this site may be futurist, but the main idea of the article is that "True commercial success is clearly emerging for the space industry." meaning now. What's worse, that simply isn't true except for Space X.
I actually own some Tesla stock. Also Ross, Royal Dutch Shell, Coke, and a few others. Some offer good dividends. Some offer growth. All have viable business models.
If you are investing in space you are throwing your money away. Putting aside the launch market no one is making a cent in space for a long, long time.
Space power is a myth. No one has shown that it's technically feasible. To mine platinum you have to spend billions to launch the mining ship, travel to the asteroid, mine it, and return it to earth safely. No way that is profitable.
When Columbus "discovered" North America, how many companies were making money here while he was proving it was here and reachable? You are focused on what is happening right now, at the very infant beginning of the process, instead of what will be here 100-200 years from now. This site is futurist, not current events.
I think mass beam propulsion is more promising; Light pressure is relatively inefficient until the craft is reaching a good fraction of the speed of light, because the 'exhaust velocity' is fixed, and very high, so you need a lot of power per newton of thrust. And the craft has to have a simply enormous mirror due to beam divergence.
Mass beam propulsion doesn't have that problem, and potentially can solve the divergence problem, because the 'wavelength' of atoms and molecules is incredibly small.
I particularly like the proposal of Dr. Christopher Limbach and Dr. Kentaro Hara, to combine a particle beam and a light beam; Each would tend to focus the other, potentially producing a beam with zero divergence. Also good aiming stability, because the different propagation speeds of the light and particles would time average aiming, and suppress beam instabilities.
See, for instance: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/api/citations/20190014041/downloads/20190014041.pdf
Note that, because the beam is supplying both mass AND energy, you could potentially use it to decelerate, too, by using the EM component to accelerate the particle component!
Is all the excitement really about the success of the launch providers?
In my mind, "true commercial success for the space industry" should refer to everyone who isn't a launch provider nor communication satellite operator.
Those two players are old news and have been a success for 50 years, the excitement should be about the near non-existence of anything else and the prospects of that changing.
btw, i lump tv and internet satellite operators into the long existing communication satellite business. I wouldn't include any would be solar power satellite into that group.
There are things that could theoretically be made/obtained cheaper in space. Platinum group minerals are one (dropping the commodity price on earth would enable their use in more applications). Helium 3 for fusion (if we ever get that working). And if satellites have utility, it may eventually be cheaper to build them in space rather than launch them. There are some specialized materials that may be easier to manufacture in zero g. I think fiber optical cable is one.
Finally, there will be space based power. Perhaps not to beam down to the surface, but to power orbital industry. Maybe the structure can be made from space resources and just thin film solar sent up from earth. There are some paint on solar technologies out there.
Oh I absolutely agree. I am just not doing it for myself. My entire goal is to set my children up for the future. They are 1@3yrs and 2@1yrs old, and I am setting them up with Roth IRA's invested in space investment vehicles already. Investments per year are $3-5k. Not just investments related to space, but new and disruptive technologies in general as a focus as well as traditional investments. I plan on letting the magic of tax free compound interest in fee free funds do the majority of the work for us.
I can tell by your post that you don't invest in companies that do not have a strong P&E. I guess you saved a ton of money not investing in Tesla, since they do not make money on their cars? You only invest in traditional investments, which is a good safe thing to do. I just believe they are in a position to gain a higher return by keeping an eye on the future instead of the past since they have so much time to invest with.
I think punishment we think is harsh might be the norm for crimes in space. I can't see people who are on the edge of survival spending resources on criminals, such as jails, free food, etc. Definitely authoritarian, but a pragmatic authoritarianism.
For example, if a colony's survival requires making an accommodation with colonies set up by China's bitter rival, would that colony bow to the CCP's will or do what they needed to survive?
Small potatoes. And those companies are just part of the launch market. That only leads somewhere if there's a reason to expand it. Sooner or later that market will level out. There's only so many satellites and tourists out there that need launching. I'm not saying they wont be profitable in the long term, but at some point they will stop growing.
A true boom means colonization and there's no sight of that on the horizon. SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, space starts ups, etc. – they are just a sexy road that leads no where (for now). Twenty years from now they may still be in business, but you aren't going to see cities on the moon or Mars. They are too expensive and not profitable.
If you want to look at the true state of the space economy take a look at the satellite TV market. Its dying. Its losing customers to fiber. Starlink is in its infancy, but at best it will be niche for that 5% that can't get fiber. Thus the satellite market is not a boomer. space tourism is in its infancy and no one knows whether it will ever be profitable. so again, who is making money in space that has the potential to launch a new era?
Exciting times, and long anticipated and overdue. The children raised today with a heavy emphasis in STEM training that are prepared for this new future will be the ones able to seize it.
Do more than disagree. Go out and invest some money in some space start up. I in turn will invest if companies that actually have a viable business model. Let's see which one of us is bankrupt in five years
Fission propulsion is the only game in town right now except for inefficient chemical rockets. Orion drives can work and work well to move massive high mass payloads anywhere you want them quickly. IMO though, Zubrin's salt water nuclear rockets or some of the other propulsion technologies mentioned here are viable also. Fission will work just fine for getting us around our solar system and enable us to develop it quickly. Laser array propulsion will work also once the infrastructure is built, but it currently is not.
You dont understand reality, is it so inconceivable that there exists other people with other interests, priorities and concerns beyond money?
How would your free market function with one provider, why does 95% = free and 60% = bribery?
Rocket labs is having success on a smaller scale. Some of the Chinese rocket startups could be doing ok. Virgin Galactic is having stock market success but they are not doing much with actual launches yet.
maybe the laser arrays for laser propelled propulsion work out better for a space program with space infrastructure
I respectfully disagree. One way or another, we will find out.
Thanks Adam. I switched to the Project Rho table which talks about scaling each stage to 100 km/second improvement. Am I now right with about 3 times the mass to add another stage? A three stage advanced interstellar Orion to get to 300 km/second? Was Freeman Dyson's energy limited project orion looking at about 10 stages to get to a monster tens of millions of ton vehicle to get to 1000 km/second?
In capitalism, every dream will not pan out. Many will fail. What is important is that the opportunity is there for them to try. This is a new, and absolutely massive, opportunity that we have never had before.
How do we build out? We don't. There's no economic case to do so. Anything you can build in space, you can build cheaper on earth. The whole idea that we are the verge of some space boom is wishful thinking. There's no doubt SpaceX has made it cheaper to get to space, but the sad fact is there's no money to be made once you get there.
If you look at the major players in the "space business", meaning the US, China, the EU, Japan, etc, and the major corporations that make money in that market – none of them are raising significant amounts of capital to invest in space. NASA is still by large the biggest player and all their efforts are on exploration and science.
If there was money to be made in space, lots of folks would be investing in it. They aren't and that is telling. Very telling.
I think we need to consider what real 'drivers' there are for going to and beyond GEO and how much money those drivers bring to the table. One could make the case that: 'build' it and they will come. I half buy that, so there will be money without fully realized demand. We should presume that we have to deal with human frailty at least until 2070 or so – so no zero-g/high rad flight or living systems of an extended length of time. Satelite and direct use stations below GEO are too easy. How do we 'build out'?
Drivers: Research, tourism, resources, colonization?
– Moon provides opportunity for tourism, research, seasonal colonization? enough to build a city or just an assembly of antarctica-like huts? corporo/capitalistic or government or personal monies? autonomous robo-AI networks to build out most infrastructure first with how much local material and how much imported? Someone must have already assembled a business plan by now – likely very dependent upon ability to use whatever's up there -and- the get-there/stay per diem/and-back costs -and- the entities which have that money. How many takers if $50M weekend/ $5M/ $1M/ $250k? Filling orbits and lunar surfaces, etc., with cheaper-by-the-year Starships will only take one so far;
-Asteroids provide resources, research? are we that hard up that we need these yet and likelihood we can align exploitation with early space build-out?
-Mars provides research, freak colonization;
-Still feel Venus Atmosphere is underconsidered…
True commercial success is clearly emerging for the space industry.
Really? Other than SpaceX, what other company is having commercial success in space?
I don't like the idea of using nuclear detonations to accelerate the spacecraft.
It will get even more interesting, Musk just needs his cash cow – Starlink.
SpaceX is fixing some of the issues. Low launch costs, rapid, reliable launches,…
Next big issue is time. I don't think nuclear fission propulsion is the way to solve it.
The time it takes for rocket to get to Mars is still quite long and to send people to Europa it would take even longer.
On the other hand if they get Moon, Mars base up and running even more will be invested into space and we will likely see much faster developments in that area.
Staging doesn't make a great deal of sense for Orion. (At least if you're already in free space.) If you're content to have a low acceleration, you can achieve arbitrarily high mass ratios without throwing parts of the rocket away.
They are getting the hang of it.
All the high techs for social media surveillance, Internet and speech controls on Earth are a preparation for a future where the regime is far bigger and widely distributed.
Once perfected, the oppressive noosphere they are creating could be exported outside of Earth. And they might have a point, if the carelessness of Westerners about what people can and can't say and do without being punished turns out to be lethal in space.
It's not the first time someone has pointed out that space settlements will require an extra layer of social rules, with harsher punishments for any violations, because they could actually endanger and kill all on a settlement. Things like vandalism, not doing required community work and neglecting to report a habitat malfunction becoming serious crimes, after experience shows they can kill a lot of people.
Yeah, space settlement is usually sold in the USA as a libertarian dream, but it can actually end up increasing the social pressure to conform with the group's interests and mindset, with harsher punishments and shaming as motivation.
Something the PRC is, as I said, getting good at doing.
Unless one of the big shareholders is the politician approving the projects. In that case they totally are protecting their own interests.
"Sustainable Space Boom"
I have a deeply held personal belief that a lot of the dreams of the true believers isn't financially viable even if launch costs were free.
Falcon 9 has been flying for ~9 years, there were similar dreams for that and they got pushed back on the next big thing, and again on the next big thing. Hopefully, it wont always be a case of keeping an eye on the next big thing to achieve those goals.
"Orion couldn't do 5% c…" Maybe with staging ?
The fact SpaceX has only 60% of the launch services market shows how crooked the market is. SX rates are 1/4 the price per kg of their competition. There are some loads that won't fit in a F9 fairing, and a few special cases where other launch vehicles are better, but if we had a free market in launch services, SX would be doing 95% plus of launches.
Launches on other provider's are the result of politics, lobbying, or some other form of bribery. Any public corporation using the expensive services is ignoring it's fiduciary duty to it's shareholders.
Seems there is a serial downvoter. Happily, this isn't reddit where downvotes hide opinions.
Probably no need to make orbital kinetic bombs out of expensive stuff like Tungsten or Lead. Steel jacketed concrete with a few thermal tiles on the nose should do it. Designs will be specific to the mission but they could be pretty cheap.
Starlink per se can’t replace cell towers but another Constellation of much bigger sats that’s laser com linked into Starlink could and there is already a business model for billing through existing providers for service in areas without their coverage. It’s a good point that there are often rental costs for cell towers.
Speaking of China, I've often wondered how an authoritarian regime at home will try to impose it's authoritarianism on a long term basis on a self-sustaining colony in space.
Oh, someone special didn't get the joke
Orion couldn't do 5% cee with regular nukes. Dyson computed a 5% exhaust velocity for pure deuterium explosives with 100% burn-up. We still don't know how to make those.
A shiny new era of space growth and settlement could be upon us.
And a new age of fears and terrors too. Powers of this world are built upon most delicate balances of force and deterrence. How others will react to having their brand of MAD assurance suddenly removed is pending to be seen.
But let's recall, we are still fishes in a same pond, with most of us still sharing the same atmosphere.
Probably they will adapt, bringing their own cards to the new game. Others may go into slow decadence and irrelevance, others more may suddenly and uglyly collapse.
But my hunch is this new inhabited Solar System scenario will end up having USA and its kind-of-friendly allies on one side, and China and its allies on the other.
Albeit and IMO, even China is taking things with too much calm. Seems the explosive growth of space economy that will happen once Starship works and its new usage cases emerge will also catch them pants-down.
Even at home, many still don't believe the things that are unfolding before our very eyes.
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