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posted by takyon on Thursday June 30 2016, @10:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the space-rig dept.

Dubbed the "Cislunar 1,000 Vision," an initiative outlined by American launch provider ULA (United Launch Alliance) foresees a self-sustaining economy that supports 1,000 people living and working in Earth-moon space roughly 30 years from now. The basic outline is to develop re-fueling capability in Earth-moon space, perhaps by propellant made using water extracted from the moon or asteroids. This, in turn, will make it more economically feasible to get to destinations more distant. From the Space.com article:

For example, a rocket could carry just enough fuel to get to low Earth orbit and then refuel its upper stage in space to get a payload to the much more distant geosynchronous transfer orbit.

"I can potentially do that whole mission cheaper if I can get propellant cheap enough in low Earth orbit," Sowers said. George Sowers is vice president of advanced programs for Colorado-based ULA.

The concept stems from an analysis and ongoing technical work by ULA involving a souped-up Centaur rocket stage called ACES (Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage), a tanker called XEUS, and a "kit" that augments an ACES stage, allowing the vehicle to land horizontally on the lunar surface and to be stocked with moon-mined fuel for transport.

Sowers continues:

ULA will solicit proposals for ACES' upper-stage engines, tapping the technologies of aerospace companies such as Aerojet Rocketdyne, XCOR Aerospace and Blue Origin. And the U.S. Air Force is supporting some ACES work under rocket propulsion system contracts, Sowers said.

"There's a lot of activity ongoing," he said, "and we're designing a Vulcan booster to accommodate the ACES upper stage."

Vulcan is ULA's next-generation launch system. [Vulcan Rocket: ULA Unveils New Modular Launch System (Video)]

"Once we have ACES flying, sometime in the early to mid-2020s, we would be in a position to utilize space-provided propellant," Sowers said.

[...] "For the most part, the only potential customers for space-based fuel have been space agencies. But their timelines keep shifting, their budgets keep getting reappropriated and the political will to enable this kind of activity 'gets bogged down in bureaucratic zombie zones,' [mining technologies and robotics provider Dale] Boucher said. [,,,] "the ULA plan enables commercialization in deeper space and provides risk reductions for space-agency-sponsored missions."

Franchises anyone?


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 01 2016, @01:45AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 01 2016, @01:45AM (#368226)

    All of your examples demonstrate that technology has become cheaper and thus more accessible, but fundamentally very little has changed.

  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday July 01 2016, @03:13AM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 01 2016, @03:13AM (#368249) Journal

    All of your examples demonstrate that technology has become cheaper and thus more accessible, but fundamentally very little has changed.

    Even if that were true, that is a huge development just by itself. But I mention the commercialization of both space access and the internet which are more than just a change in cost.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Tork on Friday July 01 2016, @03:19AM

    by Tork (3914) on Friday July 01 2016, @03:19AM (#368252)
    The great thing about the term 'fundamentally' is that you can perpetuate the debate just by widening the view. A few more replies down the road and you'll be saying: "We all still eat, sleep, and shit. See! Nothing's changed!!"

    It's a bit formulaic.
    --
    Slashdolt Logic: "19 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 01 2016, @04:02AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 01 2016, @04:02AM (#368267)

      When I need to take a shit, I reach for a Tork!

      But seriously, electricity changed the world more fundamentally than the internet, because before the internet you already had a telecommunications network you could use to call anyone in the world with a telephone. Radio changed the world more fundamentally than mobile phones, mobile phones are just personal computers with radios, and personal computers are just miniaturized mainframes. Fundamentally we're using all the same technology that existed 60 years ago, it's just smaller and faster and cheaper now.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday July 01 2016, @04:34AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 01 2016, @04:34AM (#368276) Journal

        But seriously, electricity changed the world more fundamentally than the internet, because before the internet you already had a telecommunications network you could use to call anyone in the world with a telephone. Radio changed the world more fundamentally than mobile phones, mobile phones are just personal computers with radios, and personal computers are just miniaturized mainframes. Fundamentally we're using all the same technology that existed 60 years ago, it's just smaller and faster and cheaper now.

        Now, we've moved the goalposts from no change at all to not quite as fundamentally changed. Thanks for playing.

      • (Score: 2) by Tork on Friday July 01 2016, @06:56PM

        by Tork (3914) on Friday July 01 2016, @06:56PM (#368555)

        When I need to take a shit, I reach for a Tork!

        Thank you for getting the reference in my nickname! Most think I'm a dipshit that doesn't know how to spell 'torque'. I'd rather be known as a dipshit with a shitty nick. :D

        --
        Slashdolt Logic: "19 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩