This file from Adra, http://www.mhada.info.

Links to Interesting and Useful Sites


Martha Adams

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Update warning: on 2010 Nov 02, this topics list is obsolete and will be updated shortly. -- Martha Adams

This node is annotations and links to Web sites I think are useful and relevant to my topic here in Adra of getting settlements out into space. It's work-oriented. That is, you will see no ads, jumpy moving images, and etc here. This node is, like the rest of Adra, simply and only a workspace.

The local links below take you to my annotations paragraphs that I wrote, which are farther down in this node. The title over each annotation is the link it points to: if you click on one of those and find yourself looking at something unexpected, it's not because I wrote my link to send you elsewhere than you thought you were going. It will be something deeper than that, and I'd like to hear about this unexpected result (or any unexpected result) in order to fix it asap.

My sites ordering here is approximately alphabetical but loose, depending upon which parts of names and URLs caught my eye.

To skip past my annotations paragraphs and link directly to the site, click on the 'Goto Site' option at item line end in the below list.

========= [Topics Here] =========

========= [Notes] =========

We're not in Kansas any more, and things here in cyberspace may prove different than they look. Anybody with a little time to play at it, can make an official and authoritative looking Web site; or steal the source code from one and make their own variation of it. The sites I'm listing here looked real and good to me when I visited them. !Do Not! on that account, discard your careful skepticism about what you see on your screen when you have followed one of my apparently good links.

If you're not a computer hacker (see important distinction between 'hackers' and 'crackers' (soon to be) outlined in Adra: Misc.), you need to know addresses / URLs in cyberspace don't work like television tuners. In real life, here in cyberspace, you will find variety. For instance, 'htm' and 'html' suffixes mean the same, but you may find you must use the one or the other at a particular site. Try the other if the one you're using doesn't work.

And when linking to most sites you don't need to put an 'index.htm' at the end of your URL, but sometimes you will come across a URL which requires it. Try the Blue Origin site to see this. Finally, all in cyberspace is basically computer files: computer files are malleable. That is, they can be changed and often are; they may suddenly disappear and when they do that, they may or they may not reappear somewhere else. (Or such a disappeared file may be still available in a mirror site, or....)

With practice, you will learn where the technology is rigid, and where it's elastic. And as you watch what people say in cyberspace, you'll notice some people find this variability troubling. Maybe someday I'll look back in history to read more about what people were saying in Europe when movable type came in.

In those days, if you wanted a book you either bought an expensive existing copy, or you hired someone (a scribe) with access to a book you wanted, to hand-write out a new copy for you (also expensive; and error prone). Movable type came in and it brought with it, encouragement for new work in epistemology. A printed book did not carry the (implied) legitimacy of a book hand copied by someone with (presumed) expertise and authority. This led, back in the 1400's, to small crises about questions of truth and the tests for it; about making "secret" trades knowledge publically available.

Do note, if you haven't already, that this is the same issue so alive in today's cyberspace (and politics). Do do, if you haven't already, serious reading about basics of epistemology. (Medieval scholarship is an interesting topic, too.) ...I see I'll have to eventually open up a new area in Adra's pages, on topic of epistemology.

Concerning URL links, the reasons for their structural variety are to be found at the individual sites, not here. It can be worth while to play with those URLs, but you want to keep notes on what you try. Notes you can read easily, much later. It's worth the time it takes to write a little more slowly, more clearly, more accurately in your workbook.

If you're seriously interested in space, then you need to both undertake an academic program or its close equivalent in self directed study; and, develop a more broad acquaintance of space technology and settlement resources like you find here. ...Well, nobody said space was easy.

Space and space settlement seem to get only token and limited support from the politicians in Washington (but they do a lot of PR about it). It's good that very many people and institutions are doing forward-looking programs in these fields. Here is an annotated listing of a few of the thousands of resources to be found today. Some in Washington, even!

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========= [Blue Origin] =========

See, http://public.blueorigin.com/index.html.

This site on 2007 March 22, advertised for additional team members. I see similar wording there today. This site includes several stills and videos of a recent first test of a projected vehicle to carry people to the edge of space. At this writing, on 2008 May 06, a few new videos have appeared. However, Blue Origin doesn't talk a lot about what they are doing. I did see a schedule of sorts: their new flight vehicle, New Shepard, is forecast to enter commercial service (i.e., carrying people up to near space and back down again) in 2010.

When I look at some Web sites, I have to ask myself, what are those people up to? Complex busy backgrounds; multiple items all over the page; flashing interferences, skinny tiny text stuck in like afterthought mortar in a roughly made, confusing angular brick wall. It looks to me like somebody has got lost in compressed stylistic elaboration, forgetting content in such pages. Or maybe they are so busy selling advertising, they haven't much resource left over for any usefulness.

See Blue Origin's site for a compelling contrast. Those pages carry a message. You can see that Blue Origin is up to something. They provide a variety of still and video information about it, but in between (scarce) events, they don't shout about it. Somebody over at Blue Origin has got it right (if some might feel the text there is a bit large). If you're thinking of making Web pages whose purpose is communication, you want to first look at how Blue Origin does it. In the mean time, Blue Origin is moving along with their business in a most workmanlike way.

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========= [Braeunig] =========

See, http://www.braeunig.us.

This site on 2007 March 22, is certainly the most rich site that I have found as an information resource. It looks as good today on 2008 May 04. It excels in two areas: space-travel hardware and its related history; and space navigation. This is not a hardware engineering site, but it includes useful descriptions of hardware people have been working at. If you're interested in space then you must study two resources until you know them well: Zubrin, and Braeunig.

Travelling and living in space is going to be information intensive like getting an engineering or hard sciences degree in school. Unlike here in this genuine Garden of Eden that is Terra, any settlement alive in space will require a substantial industrial base to, first, make the lifespace to live in; and then, to provide the air, water, warmth, energy and etc to fill the lifespace and keep it alive. The people there will be siamese-twin to that hardware and they must understand it well enough to build it again on short notice. That is because where an off-Terra settlement's industrial base is concerned, there will be no such thing as a "small" problem. Industrial base breakdown will, within hours, equal life systems failure. The people there must be able to deal with trouble quickly and efficiently, largely on their own. Without waiting weeks or months for outside help.

Braeunig covers a central part of the engineering side of all that. Thus the serious space person who must work on a minimum time and money schedule, wants to look at Braeunig and Zubrin.

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========= [Hartmann] =========

See, http://www.psi.edu/hartmann.

This URL takes you to William Hartmann's personal site, where he provides links to his several fields of accomplishment.

This site lists Hartmann's three ongoing concurrent careers: writing, science research, and painting. His productions include his "A Traveler's Guide to Mars" (my copy by Workman Publishing in 2003). This book is an in-depth useful description of Mars. Your library wants this book; you need to take time to study it closely.

Hartmann's 'PSI' is 'Planetary Science Institute.' If you find yourself looking at pages from 'Population Services International,' then the URL you typed was 'www.psi.org'. (This is an easy mistake to make. I know! --mha)

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========= [LiftPort] =========

See, http://www.liftport.com.

The Liftport people are one of several groups working at a really great idea. Rather than firing big expensive rockets up to reach space, why not hang a long belt down to Terra from geosynchronous orbit, then run elevators up and down it? Reach space gently, rather than on top of immense tanks of fuel on top of a (hopefully) controlled explosion

I see this as a really hopeful and possible idea, but hard to do. The problem is, that the long vertical belt for the elevators, needs to be something over 22,000 miles long, and it needs to be made of materials whose strength more nearly approaches theoretical strength of materials limits, than can be reliably accomplished today. Michael Laine has built an organization apparently named 'The Liftport Group,' against opinion his objective is simply not doable. (We want to remember that as a Big Name in physics was saying "We'll never split the atom," laboratory work was demonstrating proof-of-principle to do it.)

As a simple practical exercise, pull out your 4-function calculator, grab some numbers, and estimate a few details. What are the volume and weight of a simple ribbon, six feet wide by a quarter inch thick by 22,300 miles long? What might it cost to make it? What are some of the obvious problems you skip over when you do this quick guess? Thus the great promise of the space elevator idea, is held back by its great difficulty.

My own thinking about this is simply that Laine is onto something big. A large booster (Saturn 5) lifting off is impressive to look at. It has to be one of the most impressive things anyone has accomplished to date. (Nukes are impressive and downright ...foolish. Such waste!) However, if you just expand your mind a little, and step back and look at this rocket technology, it's clear that such huge, self-powered, complex, and expensive machines are not a practical method for low-cost and frequent access out of Terra's gravity well. They look good because they express Power (always impressive to us primates who carry our past millennia with us continually), and because they're all we have. Today.

The Space Elevator idea is, by contrast, practical; it's just very hard to build. I expect that over time, the Space Elevator must win out over firing up huge boosters, simply because that's how it has to happen.

At this writing (2008 May 6), about a year after Liftport experienced a crisis, I find no word in cyberspace about Liftport later than 2007 June. My recent email query to a Liftport address has, two weeks later, brought no response. If anyone can say what's going on at Liftport, through their own present experience in it, I'd like to hear this news so that I can publish correct information here. We need Liftport, or its later reincarnation, or someone else in the Space Elevator business.

Concerning what's going on around Liftport. For some background, see the contrarian site http://www.tropicalcoder.com/LiftPortRebuttal.htm (undated). In my view, that sort of thing may be useful but the objective here is to get those settlements out and this does not contribute to the work. I'd like as much as anyone to see Apollo restarted and more Saturn V's lifting off. There is so much more future in it than in those wars Washington likes. But I believe Laine's way to get to space, is how it will be done, eventually, because it's really the only practical method to do it. I sure hope Laine finds a way forward out of current difficulties, because we need the LiftPort he's been working at.

Note: Luna and Mars are also potential space elevator sites. Once industrial bases are developed there, space elevators will be easier to do there than here.

(Interesting side thought: a cloud city in Venus' atmosphere, reached by a Venusian space elevator. This cloud city floating at a level where conditions are comfortable for humans, might get its electric power from the temperature gradient from below it (very hot) to above it (much more cool). The question is, what would its work be? Venus may deserve early attention from a Settlements program.)

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========= [Mars Daily] =========

See, http://www.marsdaily.com/.

MarsDaily is an information resource with some advertising thrown in. The advertising isn't quite too much for serious workers. In October 2008 there is some controversy developing around NASA's Ares program, which seems at serious risk to not meet its originally announced objective. Here is a place to watch for news on this topic.

========= [Mars Society] =========

See, http://www.marssociety.org/.

The Mars Society was founded in 1998 by an activist with a goal, Robert Zubrin, working with several other people. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Society. Since then Zubrin has been campaigning for his Mars Settlement program with a persistence that makes him one of the Great Men of our time, but without much success.

One book of several that he has published wants early attention from anyone thinking of settlements and commerce in space. This is his 'The Case for Mars' (1996), which outlines a doable architecture for a conservatively planned, ongoing Mars settlement program which would be paying off big today if some politicians in Washington could have spared not very much money from their pork wars. The book appeared in 1996, and I find in it a pointer to one of the most significant works I've seen about space settlement.

The work is Frederick Jackson Turner's talk in 1893 that opened the study of frontiers as a scholarly discipline. It wants to be read once for familiarization. On a second reading, any serious space activist can restructure its content, paragraph by paragraph, to see in it an outline of the future. Seen in this light, Turner's paper offers a history-based and sound construction of what space settlements will necessarily be like; and of how the economics of space will develop. It's a remarkable experience to do this: you must do it to find how powerful Turner's work is when seen in this new light.

Google finds many direct and indirect references to Turner's paper and to the field it opened. Wikipedia offers a large list of references for quick entry to the topic, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frontier. Be warned frontier studies is a large, interesting, and extremely valuable (but often ignored) work topic for anyone thinking of permanent settlements Out There. The past does connect to the future, and it tells us a lot about the future that we need to know -- before we get there.

Unfortunately, the reader cannot estimate from Turner's paper, how much of the frontier to come in space will be American; but reasonable projections from today's news are quite discouraging. Anyone here for studying Mandarin?

Be Reminded Mars Society has done an Annual Convention in each of several recent years. Their last was their #11 in 2008, Thursday August 14 thru Sunday August 17, in Boulder, CO. In 2008 October, no Annual Convention is announced for 2009 (that I know of -- mha).

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========= [National Space Society] =========

See, http://www.nss.org.

This large and well made Web site is an entry point to all that NSS is up to, which is a lot. NSS is a large social, technical, and political organization. If you are working at space settlement, then NSS is one of your central resources and connections.

Ad Astra!

Of especial interest as I write, this year's upcoming Annual Conference is ISDC 2008, the 'International Space Development Conference.' Last year's ISDC was in Dallas i.e., Addison, Texas. This year it's in Washington DC. It starts the morning of Thursday May 29 and runs to about 2:00 pm Sunday June 1. For further information, more up-to-date than here, go to their pages and scout around.

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========= [Planetary Society] =========

See, http://www.planetary.org/.

The Planetary Society formed in 1980, started by Carl Sagan and others. Its current membership is reported to be around 100,000. The Society is working at space exploration (which is off my site topic of settlement.

In 2005, an attempt failed to launch a solar-sail satellite, the Cosmos 1, which never reached orbit after launch from a Russian submarine. The little information that has come out about what happened, serves as a cautionary tale for anyone thinking about space work. A plausible account appears in Wikipedia, see (do take notes), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmos_1. Then go on to read (more notes) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Traffic_in_Arms_Regulations. I think that among other things one may find in here, is a cautionary tale about trying to do too much with limited resources and so getting into a bad business position with the wrong people. I want to mention that also, in several Space Conferences, I've only heard the ITAR regulations referred to as hurtful to space exploration and development; and to America.

The Planetary Society publishes The Planetary Report, 6 issues/year. I currently have their 2008 March/April issue in hand. Unlike the Mars Society, they are not operating research analog bases, but I see in their pages an opportunity to join many others aboard a tourist ship for a two-week visit to Antarctica.

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========= [SETI] =========

See, http://www.seti.org/.

'SETI' is acronym for "Search for Estraterrestrial Intelligence." A few decades ago, the American Congress decided the value of any possible off-world intelligences wasn't up to the cost of looking for it. The result of this was the SETI Institute, which is working several avenues on this topic.

In my view, seeking off-world intelligences is about as valuable and useful as understanding Olbers' Paradox. (I.e., centrally valuable.) Over the past several decades, radio searching has fairly well established that there seems not to be anybody else around here within a radius of about 100 light years. Plausible reasoning says, they're there.

The thinking of many people on this topic remains primitive, to put it nicely in today's information-rich world. Enrico Fermi commented long ago, "If there are aliens, where are they?" It is a more rich and perceptive comment than the uninformed reader might realize. Today, researchers are finding planets around other stars. This provides reality-based data for studies that develop useful models (theories) of how those planets got there, why they are what they seem to be, what others might be out there, and how to look for them.

And one of those ways is ...SETI.

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========= [SpaceX] =========

See, http://www.spacex.com/.

On 2007 March 23, this nicely done site offers a range of engineering and business information. Included are videos from tests, some with sound. For those without engineering machinery experience, here's a look into a little of that. And, you can use this site in a very useful way that probably was not intended by those who made it.

Namely. Us humans, having evolved over a few billion years here on Terra, find it a comfortable and easy place to live. In space, staying alive absolutely requires more or less of an industrial base. Machinery. And machinery, it turns out, fails sometimes. For this reason, anyone who lives in space, or who thinks about living in space, studies how machines fail.

The partially successful launch by SpaceX of their second Falcon 1 offers an excellent example for study of a system failure. You want to see this for yourself, so I won't say what I saw in SpaceX's video from their second launch. Be advised, there's a lot to see there, and most people won't see it. Can you? Try running that video several times.

As I did. Watching SpaceX is a lot like seeing a baby get born. You can get intensely sincere about something like that. A beginning! And so I studied the available video about that failure, and I concluded, "I don't know about control systems, what sort of control -- or software -- failure could make it do that?

It turned out, it wasn't a control system failure, sort of. Oops! So you want to go over to SpaceX and read it for yourself: there's a learning experience for you in it.

In 2008 October, SpaceX has a feather in their cap. Their fourth Falcon 1 try, succeeded. Yay! It's centrally important but uninformed people will miss it easily, that SpaceX now has an experienced and seasoned work crew. Of the sort that only develops thru hard experience. Of the sort America had a few decades ago. And then Washington threw it all away to free up a few more dollars for their war in Vietnam. (And it must mean something that now Washington has two wars going.)

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