Who Dares, Wins!


During the time that SFO has been in existence we have seen many plans developed by many organizations for the exploration of space. These plans have been developed by some of the finest minds in the business but all have fallen to one particular and very important shortcoming; they have not considered the issues associated with leaving the surface of the Earth to be part of their plans. This is extremely shortsighted and leads to unrealistic cost estimates that do not include the costs of launch or launch preparation. Too often, this lack of consideration masks considerable cost increase necessary to ensure that the final payload is capable of surviving the shocks and accelerations of the launch environment.

In addressing this issue, SFO has arrived at the conclusion that we require a Heavy Lift capability dedicated to just one job. That job is raising materiel and equipment from the surface to an altitude of around 1600Km. The vehicle is to be optimized for this role and no other. However, in order to make this work we have to have a large receiving area in space to accommodate all the stuff being sent to orbit. This requires the construction of a large manned base and leads to the relevant paper in the SFO archive.

To support the building of such a base we have to have a significant infrastructure on the surface that can handle the manufacture, packaging, training and launch of material and men to the base on a regular, safe, reliable and frequent basis. The economic impact of this activity is going to be significant for whatever country finally hosts the missions; involving, as it will, the establishment of, or addition to, a high technology manufacturing culture. Additional economic impact will be felt among the Launch Service Providers left on the surface. They will find their markets drying up as people move their launch activities to space. Spacecraft owners will no longer have to pay to design satellites and other spacecraft to survive the short but difficult first step into space. Spacecraft of all types and for all types of mission will now be assembled in Earth Orbit from components sent aloft as general cargo on the Heavy Lift vehicle. It is much easier to pack and ship components as cargo and provide integration at the far end of the process than it is to integrate and test the spacecraft and then prepare it for shipping; i.e. launch.

The direct result of this plan is that exploration will start from a base in space and not on the surface. This will allow much larger and more complex spacecraft to be built than we can ever hope to achieve from the surface. So, spacecraft design is going to migrate in large part to the edge of the space environment in much the same way that shipyards are located close to marine environments. {Can you imagine building a ship in Oklahoma City and then dragging it all the way to the ocean?}

The logical extension of this process is to build additional bases both in Earth Orbit and Lunar Orbit and probably also on the Lunar Surface. From there the addition of the resources available on the Moon will enhance the independence of the bases from Earth. As this extension occurs a nascent economy of space will also be developing that will include items produced in space for use both in space and for shipping back to the surface of the Earth or the Moon or

SFO is starting to look at the economic implications of a program of this size and will be publishing a paper on this in late 2001 or early 2002. Meanwhile the activity to further define and design the Base and its associated launch Vehicles continues. Updates to all the programs will be placed here, as they become available.

Space Frontier Operations, Inc. in a "Not for Profit" Florida corporation.
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This page last updated 01-07-09