Saturday, February 24, 2018

Narrated Walk-through of the Equatorial Colony

A new 36 minute video has been posted here on YouTube, and is also now at the top of the video list at the bottom of the website's main page. In it I talk about the equatorial moon colony's radiation barriers, light funnels, heat radiators, moon stairs, and various other things. The colony was rendered with realistic lighting to really get across the tremendous impact of having a glazed roof that also protects against radiation. The 3d model now has a digital sky containing a sun that lights it very much like the sun actually would. It also has an Earth in the sky that does the same. This video is the first one to really make some important points clearly about why the colony is the way it is, and what it would really be like to be there.

I found it challenging keeping the video down to a reasonable time while covering all the main points. The live fly-through conversational approach did help keep it engaging. I have already received helpful feedback that will inform updates to the colony. I got the dynamics of the human centrifuge wrong and based on that information will be tilting the outer wall of it to be horizontal to the direction of artificial gravity when the centrifuge is at full speed. Moving naturally wouldn't be as difficult as I claim in the video. There would be a gradient to the strength of centrifugal force between your head and your feet, and it would take training to move very much while on it without getting dizzy and nauseous. The one shown would rotate at about 8.5 rpm. Basically, I'm adopting the optimism of Al Globus that people can be trained to function in that environment with no symptoms, as explained in this paper by him and Theodore Hall. In later habitats, there will be space for centrifuges with longer arms to reduce these issues. It may be that exercise on them will need to be limited, and time on them is instead best used doing sedentary activities. It is an area where we know very little indeed. The centrifuges are probably needed though, so they stay.

I also had a long conversation in our chat room on space.stackexchange about solid waste. My Russian friend with the biophysics degree convinced me it should all be incinerated in a separate structure, and the gases and residues collected and stored. Ashes and charcoal get incorporated into soil production, carbon dioxide is released into the hab at whatever rate the plants can take it up, any excess carbon dioxide is used in any one of a range of useful chemical reactions to produce important products for the colony. Making those models will follow after several others that are higher priority, but they are now on the to do list.

I can talk about this stuff forever, and will if you don't stop me, so any other feedback is very welcome.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Advancing Colonies

(The posting of this on Blogger was accidentally omitted when this blog was written, about 5 weeks ago... Oops.)

Much work has been done in the last 2 months or so on revamping the structures of Cernan's Promise. Much more than is shown below, actually. As is common, much of my time is spent staring at my monitor, trying to figure out what makes sense on the Moon. This is punctuated by research online, consultations, and occasional deletion of current work to start over. Maybe a third of my time is actually spent building digital models.

To give a sense of the new directions, here are a few images of the Atrium habitat, the first to be occupied at the Lalande Crater colony of Cernan's Promise, which is the second colony constructed, after Inukshuk at the north pole. This is an evolution of the previous version. I rebuilt the entire thing fresh. Even with all the thinking, it still went ten times faster than the last build. May this be a sign of things to come, for it is necessary to move beyond this phase soon, and seek to make this a business. It will all be open-source, and the colonies will always be free. But, to do this will take a considerable amount of labor. It needs revenue.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Great Big Timeline

Our new timeline maps out a vast set of complex, interconnecting plans leading to a solar system with major colonies on four worlds. When the timeline ends, there are thousands of ships trading megatons of goods from Mercury to Titan. It costs about as much to go to the Moon as it costs to fly half-way around the world today. Cities are being built at a high clip across the face of the Moon by robot crews that are only lightly overseen by a small number of people. We’ve launched small probes to other stars. There are satellites around every significant celestial body in the solar system, and rovers on all such bodies with a solid surface. Political and economic power has shifted dramatically into space. Our sense of who we are has changed forever.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Mother Ship

True space settlement depends on being able to have children out there, including pregnancy, childbirth, and the whole process of raising a happy, healthy child. We know very, very little about what it takes to do this in the harsh environment of space. What we do know suggests that the radiation protection and gravity required is far higher than for an adult. As a mental exercise, let us tackle a chunk of this question. Here follows a sketch of the mother ship - a ship compliant with conservative estimates of the protection needed to safely transport an expectant mother from the Moon to Earth.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Thinking About Thinking About Space

The Starship Congress last week was full of expansive ideas of brave new worlds and the odysseys to reach them. I have a new theory that if you pack enough space geeks close enough together they will start to spontaneously levitate. I'm in the thick of this community, but i gotta say - wow, we really need to get more grounded.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Reworked Power Plant

Six weeks ago i posted about a new draft of the solar thermal power plant designed for Cernan's Promise. Oh how it has changed since then. The process of improving that model has been an important test case of how to elicit input on a design, and work through improving it, with online collaborators. Once again, it was done mostly by consultation in our chat room on space.stackexchange. The conversation there goes on for pages and pages, supplemented by sketches and links.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


There is a strong tinge of escapism among space fans. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, escapism gets a bad wrap. It just has to be used with care. I think it’s good for people to remember that things could be way, way better than they are. A vision of something that would be wonderful but can only be achieved with great effort can actually bring people together and focus them on making that effort. The problems begin with the false promises and hand-waving. If your head is out there, but your heart isn’t rooted down here, you’re in for trouble.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Drafting Ideas

We were chatting over the last week about the thermal energy storage system we have drafted right now for the colony, which is a bit like some solar thermal power plants here on Earth. (I always sort of enjoy it when i have a legitimate reason to specify that i'm referring to something 'on Earth'.) Our [chat room]( has been rather productive in the last while, this discussion was such a case. To encourage that, i made a new cutaway sketch of the heat reservoir and connected systems in order for us to better visualize the concepts discussed and improve the design. As usual, it is a design for an advanced colony, and so it is rather audacious by current standards. Once we are there and thriving, something like it will make sense on the Moon.

Friday, April 28, 2017

On Glass Bubbles and Being Grounded

I couldn't get along without windows. I don't care how big the cave is, how realistic display screens are at projecting pleasant outdoor scenes (holographic? well, that would help, but still), or how much time i spend outside (and i don't think it would be more than 10 or 15 hours a week) - big windows on the Moon make a big, big difference. I wouldn't expect people to have any enthusiasm at all for living there unless they have lots of natural sunlight, broad vistas, and can spend as much time looking outside as they like with no concern about radiation. So, we need to be able to make lots of glass there. LOOOOOOTS of glass.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Timeline to the Space Boom

The timeline for the virtual colonies, it turns out, is not the digestible list of bullet points i thought it would be when i started on it a couple of weeks ago. It is 130,000 words, and i stopped myself before it sucked me in completely. It maps out how the whole society on the Moon works, how a very achievable set of technologies supports it, and how the colonies develop industry and agriculture over the course of 50 years - in a dense but readable format. Outlining decades of humanity's greatest ever undertaking can't be done much more briefly. That's my story and i'm sticking to it.