A former member
Post #: 2
Hey all, new to the group and started talking to Charles about the 100YSS project. Figured it would be easier to talk about it here, rather than go back in forth through the greetings.

The idea is fascinating, both as a potential project to just do for fun (who here hasn't actually thought about how to build one?) and from the practical standpoint of cobbling together a workable idea for financing.

I'm not a finance guy, but I imagine there are ways out there, some of which are, perhaps, non-traditional to begin funding a project of this magnitude. What ideas have people already had?
A former member
Post #: 2
So far, there have been no responses. Neither the government, nor the financial elite here in NYC, have been able to come up with a socio-economic construct that could foster such a development. Or, forget the 100YSS, even foster the development of basic level commercial development in space (a pre-requisite to 100YSS in my view).

I think you'd need adequate in situ resource utilization and orbital facilities to actually construct a ship large enough to travel the distance (i.e., it would be too fuel-expensive to construct on the surface of the earth, even in parts), but 60 years out in the space race and we can barely land tiny little probes on asteroids and can't seem to get a working satellite to the outer planets in 50% of our missions (look at what happend with Fobos-Grunt... yeesh). The Constellation Program would take us out $38b to repeat a mission we did 40 years ago. Our one candidate with any serious ambition to undertake commercial space endeavors, poor Newt, was lambasted by the media, the public and the political establishment (i'd love to see them laughing when there are only Chinese satellite service providers, and they are all priced out of the airwaves).

So, if anyone has any ideas, would love to hear! At present though, I doubt anyone has a coherent plan on how to do it.
A former member
Post #: 3
And an even bigger problem than not having an institutional form in our cultural armamentarium to overcome our nation's lukewarm feelings about space travel, is that we don't actually have the technology to undertake such missions. Not even close. We have rockets and shuttles that have technical difficulties, even explode, more times than they should. We don't have the space suits, adequate tools or work regimens that make sense in Zero G. We dont' have the robotic capabilities to undertake commercial enterprises... I mean, Robonaut 2? Give me a break.

And to top it all off, we don't have a clearly commercial endeavor worth going for into space. NO one has come up with a need for one, other than Newt. Why go up? People say... Asteroid Mining! But does anyone really know how expensive and complicated that would be in zero g? And when you have refined ore, smelted metal, whatever... Then what? What do you do with it? You can't drop it back to earth. You'd need other industries in space to be consumers of such. How about creation of fuel from frozen water deposits? But you'd need missions to fuel to make that worthwhile. What else?!
A former member
Post #: 3
There are some obvious solutions that I don't want to post because I'm sure you guys thought of them already, but:

Granted that no single corporation or institution currently exists that can shoulder the financial burden of such a research project without cutting into their bottom line.

But, partnerships between companies like Boeing and Lockheed for instance are not unheard of. As recently as a year or two ago, the two companies were jointly developing a bomber.

A consortium of companies, perhaps targeting smaller companies that are less driven by the bottom line than the publicly traded ones that are bound by law to make smart decisions. try to attract some universities to the project.

their contributions would be both monetary and practical. They'd get the honor of doing the designing, and in return they'll also contribute the funding to the project. We take the funds, a number we could easily work out, and we have one of the financial firms, or a consortium of those, manage the account, making new money through outside investments. This is how many universities make their money.

Another possibility, that can run either co-jointly with the above, or on its own, is a non-profit that takes in donations and uses investments to multiply them out. The organization could also make partnerships with other consumer brands.... "$1 of every bottle of soap you buy goes to the Space Exploration Consortium" etc. This is one of the more successful ways the World Wildlife Fund, a few AIDS charities (the RED campaign), and others make money. Even with the safest investments only, with compound interest, and an economy that can only improve from this point, we could double most of our money within 20 years. If successful, we could do nothing but accumulate investments in money for the first 50 years, then by 2060, the technology available will have been vastly improved without us, and now we've got 50 years worth of accumulating compound interest and contributions, we could crank out that spaceship in the 40 years remaining before 2100.
A former member
Post #: 4
My first post was in response to our conversation over the greeting system.

In response to your posts here:

My solution is the obvious one. So if that hadn't gotten submitted yet by people smarter than me who almost certainly thought of it too, it means no one is thinking far enough ahead, despite this being a 100 year project. The trick is not to worry about how much it costs now, but how much it will cost later, which I think its safe to say is relatively less, given the projected advancement of technology.

There is no point in spending money now, because the tech isn't ready yet anyway. Once Space X and other start ferrying equipment to space regularly, we'll get better at it and the projected price of building this space ship is suddenly much lower.

As for what is there to gain from going into space. Unfortunately not much, outside of the intangible element of drumming up enthusiasm and imagination. Mining could work, but hardly worth the cost. You'd have to launch the mined ore in a vessel (weight's not an issue since gravity for an asteroid is pretty low) and just have it set to intercept the earth. Drawback is it would take a very long time for the ore to reach us, and why bother, we have plenty of it here.

space exploration doesn't become 'useful' until we can do it fast enough to send people to other planets, and possibly explore some of those potentially habitable planets NASA and others have found.
A former member
Post #: 4
Ethan, you raise some interesting points:

"Granted that no single corporation or institution currently exists that can shoulder the financial burden of such a research project without cutting into their bottom line.

But, partnerships between companies like Boeing and Lockheed for instance are not unheard of. As recently as a year or two ago, the two companies were jointly developing a bomber.

A consortium of companies, perhaps targeting smaller companies that are less driven by the bottom line than the publicly traded ones that are bound by law to make smart decisions. try to attract some universities to the project."

You're right on that no single corporation can fund the process. And per my earlier emails with you, the Corporation itself is not a good model for an entity vying for commercial space development. At least, not yet. But there is a problem with partnerships or joint ventures... You still need a quarterly or, at least, annual return. In the case of those bombers being developed, that you mention, there is a client ready and hungry for them... The U.S. Department of Defense. But there is no similar customer for space products yet, and as we've discussed, the U.S. has a dismal record regarding space developments.

Now, the Japanese have the concept of zaibatsu and keiretsu and the Koreans have the chaebol, which are all oligarchic conglomerates undertaking business and trade for mutual benefit. Those models show the potential for large-scale development, but still, they have traditional corporate goals in mind. And regardless, neither has proven to be a very resilient economic entity.

The Japanese also had a techno-nationalist cadre of pseudo-governmental careerists in the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), which focussed on subsidizing industrial research and proved a huge boon to Japanese industries. The U.S., though with some similar programs, has nothing so culturally entrenched.
A former member
Post #: 5
You also note:

"There is no point in spending money now, because the tech isn't ready yet anyway. Once Space X and other start ferrying equipment to space regularly, we'll get better at it and the projected price of building this space ship is suddenly much lower."

Space X is as versatile and bold a company as any, when it comes to commercial developments. But for all Elon Musk's bravado, and hope to put a manned Falcon Heavy or a Dragon on Mars, the real goal of the company is LEO taxi service to the ISS. And maybe eventually the Chinese equivalent thereof. Again, their customer is the U.S. government and a select group of private satellite providers. All LEO, and all well within the realm of current technology. I don't see Space X moving the ball forward in the commercial development of space industries and colonization.
A former member
Post #: 6
Also, realize that the cost comes from (i) the fuel expense of Earth surface to LEO gravity and (ii) the space infrastructure/bureaucracy embedded in the American space-industrial complex by NASA. That cost will be present however efficient our next generation of rocket taxis are.
A former member
Post #: 7
"My solution is the obvious one. So if that hadn't gotten submitted yet by people smarter than me who almost certainly thought of it too, it means no one is thinking far enough ahead, despite this being a 100 year project. The trick is not to worry about how much it costs now, but how much it will cost later, which I think its safe to say is relatively less, given the projected advancement of technology."

That's kind of where we have to end up, really. Like Easter Islanders carving large stone heads, or Egyptian agricultural workers dedicating all of their off-harvest time to building the pyramids, or Russian kulaks agreeing to self-administer collectivization, our nation has to redefine the social benefits of space development and ignore the more rational economic aspect of it. Maybe to our detriment on the stage of world trade, but we're losing there anyway, so what's the difference?
Michael D. M.
Mikeumus
Princeton, NJ
Post #: 1
I was going to reply initially to the meetup's description but now I can see your both rather educated/passion about the subject. Truth be told a answer to 100YSS questions is more so predictions and theory of the future than anything to practice at the moment as you mentioned above. But working on these problems on the side as a team, much like a Google Lunar Xprize team, working in collaborative/resourceful places like hackers spaces and organizing a global effort, with not (just) the motives of profit (because again profit is just not to easily feasible yet), is a good theory of a organization that could lead to some solid answers. The same way world class programmers may work all day for 100-300k, come home, and work for free contributing to a open-source linux distribution. Making this project "open-source" fits in with that idea of social benefits I believe.

smile
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