Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Monday, February 23, 2004

  NEOX vs the Comanche

Want to see me get mad about money misspent? Read on. I want to talk about the incredible cost-effectiveness of NEOX based space missions after I get done being pissed off about this:

38 billion dollars spent over 20 years to not produce a single operational aircraft. That kind of money would pay for roughly 5000 NEOX missions, each visiting 4 asteroids, or more, in a quest for raw material, and information, laying the groundwork for a network of telescopes, radar and observing stations well beyond earth's orbit - and potentially opening the solar system to human colonization. Each impact probe would give us so much more detail on what conditions were like...

The thing I am maddest about today - is that the only thing the press seems to pick up on is the one in half a million chance that one rock will hit earth - it's not just that -

It is in the 0 chance that I will ever get to live on one of these rocks - hitch a lift past earth, through the Belt, up to Jupiter, and back to Venus. It would be a wonderful 4 year trip - it would be a wonderful trip to make multiple times...

I see each of the thousands of near earth asteroids as opportunity - as real estate on the hoof - as a place where greenpeace isn't running around in little rubber boats - I see the former swamplands of florida in only 70 years of development covered with retirement homes... and I see Toutatis: Toutatis - where I want to retire. While it isn't much to look at now, neither was the swampland in florida 70 years ago. See that cute little dimple in the center? That is over 600m in diameter - right on the edge of that, I think, would be a good place for a near-zero-g-hottub with an everchanging view.... The pictures may be small, but we are talking about kilometers of land, and billions of tons of raw material here.

The only way to get there is to make it pay, to make it possible to bring resources from space - and the only way I can think of to do that is to bootstrap it with an enormous number of tiny spacecraft launches each on a mission to survey a different set of asteroids, to find sources of water, metals, and the essentials of life - and to establish an effective relay network for communication between all these craft - and... and... I start to sputter about stupid and wasteful it is to spend money on a helicopter designed to counter a non-existent threat - I rant about how if we only just took a step back and looked at the solar system, as a whole, from space, rather than from earth - we'd understand that the answers were already in our grasp -

It is not science fiction anymore, and, compared with most government programs - is cost effective with a potentially astronomical rate of return -

From the article that started all this matrix-y thinking:

you can have A, or B -

but if you start jumping up and down crying out for another option, a risky venture with an incredibly high rate of return...

just look up, on Asteroid Appreciation Day, February 29th - and visualize looking back on this green marble from the front porch of your very own digs on your own chunk of land.

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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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