High Efficiency Launch Unit

  • Monday, September 19, 2011
  • Archimedes
  • Labels: , , , , ,
  • There has been a lot of recent talk in regards to the development of space beyond earth's mesosphere, several plans have been proposed by the scientific community and the most popular, or rather, the most debated plans are the deployment of a system of space based solar power plants, a plan to send mining missions to the moon for Helium-3 ore, and the time tested space based ballistic missile defense plan.

    As absurd as some of these plans sound, there is merit, or the public believes there to be merit in all of them. We've all seen the James Bond movie where the bad guy puts a giant mirror into space and beams down the suns energy by reflecting and concentrating it. NASA has recently smashed a probe into the moon to create a cloud of lunar dust for analysts, a stunt which revealed that the moon does indeed have deposits of potentially valuable Helium 3 ore, and the United States have been dreaming of a "Star Wars" orbital missile defense system since the cold war.

    The reason that these plans are not already becoming reality is not that they will bring no benefit, but the sheer economical cost alone to implement them far outweighs the results. All 3 plans call for large amounts of material to be launched into space, and the most efficent launch rockets we have right now costs about $5,000 per POUND of payload. This means that a mining probe, a solar panel, or a laser would cost millions to launch apiece, and even if we get a significant amount of these things into orbit, we still need to send stuff up, most likely human astronauts (which are very prone to dying), to repair and resupply them.

    The scientific community has some good stuff going with the whole development of space thing, but what it needs to do is to take a step back and realize that before we can build castles in the sky, we have to get our feet off the ground. The absurd amounts of funding going towards prototype defense satellites and mining probes are much better used to develop new launch vehicles, some of which I hope to propose in later articles.
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