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.