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  1. #1
    Registered User DrC's Avatar
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    Why does it seem like Sci-Fi is hardly fiction anymore?

    Holography, for example, has come so far over just the past ten years. In about a week I'll be getting a PET scan. The reason is so overshadowed by the state-of-the-art that the outcome is lost to fascination. The question that has bugged me for close to twenty years is why there is no Clavius moon base or manned mission to Jupiter as Clarke predicted. Are we fooling ourselves that, more than the cutting edge, we are really heading over the brink?

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    Technology moves on. Most contemporary novels would have been SF if we read them fifty years ago.

    The fundamental issue with moon bases is that costs have to drop dramatically for them to be viable as anything other than a tax-funded flag-waving exercise; the Lunar Hilton could be a popular tourist destination at $100 a pound to orbit, but not at $10,000 a pound.

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    Registered User DrC's Avatar
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    Oh, by all means... to both statements.

    If the payload is an electron we're wanting to get across the ocean, the impetus has made it seem inexpensive, but if we consider the cost over the years of research and industrial tooling, it has cost just as much to send that electron from LA to London as to send a few tons to the moon. Is it more important to expand our habitable space with 7billion people on the planet or to expand their means to socialize? Lasers and cell towers need energy. Fifty years ago we were certain the moon was devoid of water. Half a dozen years ago that myth was busted. It seems that we should have spread some of that research wealth around to finding the means to make that cost per payload pound to the moon or the other planets to ten cents.

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    It's a bootstrapping problem.

    Sending messages across the Atlantic was profitable from the early days, and cheaper messaging allowed more people to send more messages, which increased the profits. Right now, there's a small market for satellite launches at $10,000 a pound, and a big market for space tourism below $100 a pound, but no clear market between those numbers. Companies who care about short-term profits won't sacrifice a market for 10 launches a year at $10,000 a pound for the potential of a market for 20 launches a year at $1,000 a pound; that's why it's taken a company like SpaceX that's more concerned with the long-term to really try to push costs down.

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    Registered User DrC's Avatar
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    Honestly, I'm not certain why I started this thread, besides something to do.

    I tend to believe that had JFK not been shot, the cost of space payloads would be much less than $100 per pound by now. So many programs that were LBJ's earmarks working in the background were creating exactly those bootstraps you referred to. The push was on to find unconventional propulsion methods. Innovative individuals could get grant money to research such methods. Enter Nixon and those grants dried up.

    Now this thought takes us back to the sci-fi. What if the JFK assassination was truly accomplished by a time traveler from a not-so-distant future compared to our present? Departing from probability even further, if this out-of-place assassin, time traveling or not, was from a different planet, even galaxy, could we ever stop it?

    (Really just a bit bored in a "time marking" week here, so making conversation...) Thanks for the interesting replies

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    I actually suspect we'd be further ahead if Kennedy had been shot earlier. NASA had plans to use Gemini-derived technology to put men on the Moon, but that was all tossed aside in favor of 'waste anything but time' when Kennedy set a time limit of a few years to get there. That lead to the Saturn V, which was expensive to launch and is now rusting in a museum, having left little of use behind it. The Gemini-derived option would have been done on the cheap, with significant emphasis on cost-cutting, and probably spawned off a lot of useful tech and infrastructure that would still be beneficial today.

    One of my unfinished novels includes a Gemini-based mission to the Moon, maybe I should actually sit down and finish it .

  7. #7
    Registered User DrC's Avatar
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    Shocking, but interesting thought.

    What would have comprised your mission hardware?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrC View Post
    What would have comprised your mission hardware?
    In my story, it's a one-way trip, so basically a cut-down Gemini (not even a heat shield or ejection seats) with some kind of lander stage, probably with a Centaur or Agena stage to get it to the Moon. The NASA technical reports server has a number of reports on the real plans, which weren't that much different except they intended to come back; the lunar landing would have been quite exciting because the pilot had to lean out of the hatch or use a periscope to see where they were going.

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    Registered User Pennarin's Avatar
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    Tried Baxter's Voyage?

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    Registered User DrC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward M. Grant View Post
    In my story, it's a one-way trip, so basically a cut-down Gemini (not even a heat shield or ejection seats) with some kind of lander stage, probably with a Centaur or Agena stage to get it to the Moon. The NASA technical reports server has a number of reports on the real plans, which weren't that much different except they intended to come back; the lunar landing would have been quite exciting because the pilot had to lean out of the hatch or use a periscope to see where they were going.
    So what would have been your primary booster?

    You mention a one way trip. This would have essentially been a suicide mission?

  11. #11
    Registered User DrC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pennarin View Post
    Tried Baxter's Voyage?
    No, but I took a look-see and his shown repertoire do look interesting to say the least. Thanks for the link,

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrC View Post
    So what would have been your primary booster?
    I suspect it would need one Titan for the Gemini/lander stage and another for the Centaur TLI stage. I never looked quite that closely at the numbers. You could probably launch both together on a Saturn IB, but, in the story, it was meant to look as much as possible like another military satellite launch so no-one knew what was going on.

    You mention a one way trip. This would have essentially been a suicide mission?
    Yeah, they were taking a nuclear bomb up there to eliminate some pests before Neil Armstrong arrived . NASA's real-world version actually needed to bring the astronauts back .

  13. #13
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    I was recently thinking this is not a technological society so much as a technologically differentiated society. Science fails because our schools don't use SF to make science interesting.

    This is from 1959:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1...30106/abstract

    But how often have schools done anything like that in the last 50 years. So people have smartphones and don't know where the electron is in an atom. I had a teenager tell me that the electron was in the nucleus.

    So much stuff called science fiction has no science.

    We should have robots on the Moon doing prospecting but don't need consumables instead of drones killing people on the other side of the planet.

    psik

  14. #14
    Registered User DrC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward M. Grant View Post
    I suspect it would need one Titan for the Gemini/lander stage and another for the Centaur TLI stage. I never looked quite that closely at the numbers. You could probably launch both together on a Saturn IB, but, in the story, it was meant to look as much as possible like another military satellite launch so no-one knew what was going on.
    Well, Ed... A bit of my background: I earned my BScME in 1974 from Univ. of Maryland. My minor was in Aerospace Design. Since I was doing my tour of duty in Germany, some of the course was correspondence and about 2 months of the design portions included everything from Werner Von Braun's first works all the way through the Saturn V and concepts current at that time including shuttle designs. For a Titan to put a lander in orbit around the moon, it would be about the size of a medium sized dog house and forget about landing even a midget. A Titan would not get two astronauts and sufficient life support even into High Earth Orbit, let alone to the moon. Although there was a movie in the late 60's depicting this, the idea was scrapped. To do what you suggest would have required no less than 25 preliminary missions to put all the "right stuff" in a variety of precisely synchronized, stepping stone transfer orbits to get one man on the surface at a much higher cost and a much longer journey.



    Yeah, they were taking a nuclear bomb up there to eliminate some pests before Neil Armstrong arrived . NASA's real-world version actually needed to bring the astronauts back .
    No offense, Ed, but this is why I prefer harder science fiction. Personally, I need to be able to believe it's all do-able in lieu of "pass the popcorn and watch the pretty light show." Dazzle me with brilliance instead of the vulgar alternative.

    Nonetheless, thanks for the perspective.

  15. #15
    Registered User DrC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psikeyhackr View Post
    I was recently thinking this is not a technological society so much as a technologically differentiated society. Science fails because our schools don't use SF to make science interesting.

    This is from 1959:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1...30106/abstract

    But how often have schools done anything like that in the last 50 years. So people have smartphones and don't know where the electron is in an atom. I had a teenager tell me that the electron was in the nucleus.

    So much stuff called science fiction has no science.

    We should have robots on the Moon doing prospecting but don't need consumables instead of drones killing people on the other side of the planet.

    psik
    Thank you! Couldn't express it better.

    Have you ever read "Cities in Flight" by James Blish?

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