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Heinlein Readers Discussion Group
Saturday 07/08/2004 5:00 P.M. EDT.
Heinlein and Private Space Travel

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From: "Joe McGrew" <>
To: "David Wright" <>
Subject: RAH-AIM Readers Group Chat Meeting--"Heinlein and Private Space Travel" -- July 8, 10
Date: Friday, July 02, 2004 3:38 AM

The next RAH-AIM Readers Group chat topic will be "Heinlein and Private Space Travel" with an emphasis on _The_Man_Who_Sold_the_Moon_, scheduled for July 8 and 10, 8pm and 4pm U.S. Central Time (respectively). Anyone wishing to join us for the first time can find out how by visiting

I am happy to announce that we've been able to secure a commitment from Dr. Peter Diamandis, who is the founder and President of the Ansari X Prize, largely responsible for the leaps and bounds that have been made in the field of privatized space flight. He has agreed to chat with us during the July 8 session. In Dr. Diamandis' first reply to our invitation, he said that RAH's work, particularly _The_Man_Who_Sold_the_Moon_, is what drives him, and he has given away over 200 copies of the book. Those of us who may not have seen the particulars of the project can check it out at I hope we will have plenty of members ready to join in and express our appreciation to him, regardless of the short notice for the chat (my fault).

This week's lead off is by Andrew Salamon, who doesn't participate in a.f.h., but is a regular participant in the chats:


Who's making the next water bed?

Robert Heinlein is often credited with inventing the idea of a water bed, at least in it's modern fail-safe variety. As soon as reliable materials were available companies started mass producing water beds, bringing an idea that Heinlein had written about into our every day lives.

He also wrote about a wide variety of other scientific, engineering, social and political concepts. Some of these ideas are already outdated and may even seem a bit foolish from our position of infallible hindsight. Rolling roadways for example, from "The Roads Must Roll." Although urban sprawl still seems to be alive and well. Other concepts Mr. Heinlein wrote about remain in the realm of science fiction, yet continue to inspire his readers. Some of us, most of us, in fact, remain content to read science fiction and maybe spend a little time considering what our lives might be like some day, or may have been like, 'if only...'

Fortunately for us all, a handful of people just aren't willing to rest in the world as it is and prefer to make their, and our, dreams a reality.

Three topics that formed important parts of one or more of Heinlein's stories can be summed up as: private, non-governmental space travel; long (healthy) life; and self-aware machines. So the question is: are there people out there right now doing their best, humanity's best you could say, to turn those ideas from fiction to reality?

The answer seems obvious to me, and I would like to mention three examples that I read about almost every day on various technically oriented web sites.

Raymond Kurzweil has a long list of credits to his name in the field of artificial intelligence and has written widely on the subject. His chat-bot Ramona is a long way from being a Minerva or Mycroft but who knows what she may evolve into.

Aubrey de Grey is a doctor who specializes in biogerontology with the intent, as he puts it, to "expedite the development of a true cure for human aging." Dr. De Grey's Methuselah Mouse Prize is attempting to increase research in a field that often falls between the cracks in established scientific institutions.

Last, we have a large and diverse group of people who are trying to change the way we think about access to outer space. Spurred on by the Ansari X-Prize, all of them are hoping to be the first privately funded group to break free of Earth's gravity, even if only for a few minutes. Many people are hoping these sub-orbital flights will be just the first step to allowing all those who desire it affordable access to space.

Andrew Salamon


Oscagne, High Priest of Skeptics and Cynics
wanna read a story? or see my goofy website?

End of Postings

Go Beginning of Posts

Here Begins the Discussion

You have just entered room "Heinlein Readers Group Chat

Dehede011 has entered the room.

Dehede011 : Am I early??

OscagneTX : A bit, yeah.

OscagneTX : 45 min.

Dehede011 : It is tomorrow??

OscagneTX : No... it's today.

OscagneTX : 8pm, central.

Dehede011 : Then, if it is okay, I shall remain on line while getting some chow. Bye

OscagneTX : okie

Dehede011 has left the room.

PDiamandis has entered the room. has entered the room.

OscagneTX : howdy : Hello.

Dehede011 has entered the room.

OscagneTX : wb ron

Dehede011 : Thank you, I see the Guest of Honor is here, Welcome sir

OscagneTX : Not entirely...

OscagneTX : His assistant logged him on.

Dehede011 : At least his name is??

OscagneTX : his name is... %^)

Dehede011 : It wasn't like this when I was born in 1934. LOL

OscagneTX : /me counts on his fingers.

OscagneTX : At least it's not more decades than I have fingers.

OscagneTX : %^)

Dehede011 : While we were waiting another Cherokee sent me sent me 200 pictures of Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville, Illinois. I glanced at the pics briefly

OscagneTX : and?

Reilloc has entered the room.

Dehede011 : He says the site is very impressive -- one thousand years ago when Europe was in the dark ages those people were at the height of their power.

Dehede011 : For an American Indian to stand there and think of all that history must be humbling.

OscagneTX : I can imagine.

OscagneTX : Well, I guess we're going to be slow trickling in again, tonight.

Dehede011 : I am like Newton at the edge of the ocean -- I have dipped my toe into that history and gotten just far enough to realize that just because I don't know that history does not mean they had not history

LanaiHoward has entered the room.

n1yqh a has entered the room.

OscagneTX : howdy, guys.

Dehede011 : Howdy

Reilloc : HI.

n1yqh a : good evening...

PDiamandis : Hello

OscagneTX : I've sent invites to everyone I've got, if you know anyone that ought to be here, please invite them, because I don't have an exhaustive list.

Dehede011 : Welcome aboard

LanaiHoward : Good evening, or appropriate greeting based on your time zone or orbital position. Should you be participating from a location outside Earth orbit, just assume something pleasant.

OscagneTX : Good evening, Dr. Diamandis.

PDiamandis : Good evening.

PDiamandis : Thank you for inviting me to join you.

OscagneTX : For those of you who may not know, PDiamandis is Dr. Diamandis, founder of the Ansari X-Prize Foundation.

OscagneTX : Everyone should know, as I've plastered it in every notice I've made... %^)

OscagneTX : You're very welcome, Doctor.

OscagneTX : Thanks for coming.

OscagneTX : So, you're favorite Heinlein novel is Man Who Sold, isn't it, Doctor?

PDiamandis : Absolutely. No question about it.

OscagneTX : Do you find yourself making comparisons between yourself and D.D. Harriman?

PDiamandis : D.D. has been my mentor for many years in most of my projects.

PDiamandis : I found his strategies to be excellent.

OscagneTX : You've taken a bit of a different tack, though, haven't you?

PDiamandis : Business case studies in how to market and motivate people in the difficult area of opening the space frontier.

PDiamandis : In some ways.

PDiamandis : However, what D.D. did most was create excitement and anticipation

PDiamandis : to motivate corporations to fund and sponsor projects

PDiamandis : We're doing the same thing here with the X PRIZE : Maybe what we need most is a George Strong, who seemed to have most of the financial genius.

OscagneTX : [Everyone else, feel free to join in, this isn't really meant to be an interview...] : Well, not most, but most after the space motivation.

PDiamandis : there's no question that what is need is investment capital in this arena

PDiamandis : lots of great ideas and technology, but few financial risk takers

OscagneTX : Is that mostly what you do, Doc? Try to drum up capitol?

LanaiHoward : Prizes, both fictional and real-world, often are more symbolic. (I should note you have a bit of Dr. Cargraves as well as DD). The Nobel Prizes have incredible prestige, but you can't retire on one. Lindbergh....

LanaiHoward : Langley and the Wright Brothers, etc., all competed for prizes, but more, I suspect, as recognition. None really made business cases

PDiamandis : the goal with prizes is to create a finishing line, a target, and then motivate the radicals, the risk takers to GO FOR IT

OscagneTX : I have noticed that, while the X-prize is 10M, SS1 has spent well over that amount already. : Yes, the business case there is not for the competitors but for the people offering the prize. : I read today that Mr. Rutan announced that the had solved the worst of the control problems from their last flight. That's what, two weeks? I wonder how long NASA would have spent.

LanaiHoward : I'm glad to see this as opposed to what might be considered anti-prizes,like the British Patent Office turning down Clarke's idea of geosynchronous communications satellites

PDiamandis : their not doing only for the $10M

n1yqh a : The existence of the prize has stimulated a fair bit of work even among people who don't really think that they're in the running for the prize itself, i.e. Armadillo...

PDiamandis : the pride and the historical aspect is key...

PDiamandis : im most proud the the amazing diversity of approaches...

PDiamandis : 27 teams from 7 nations, and now 27 different approaches! and we haven't paid out even $1

Dehede011 : Hasn't Rutan some thoughts of being able to sell tickets at a profit later?

OscagneTX : Do you find that any of the teams are motiviated by the money? Or is the money simply a lure for the general press?

petelagrange has entered the room.

OscagneTX : Howdy, pete.

petelagrange : Hiya

PDiamandis : i've not heard of any plans that burt has to sell tickets..

PDiamandis : the money is a "credentialing factor" makes the effort REAL

Dehede011 : I saw a price quoted but I don't know upon what basis that was quoted

PDiamandis : its a way to measure this as important and creates a perception by the public that this is important...

LanaiHoward : In a way, that's too bad...I can remember the early television coverage of NASA's program...variously Cronkite, and NBC's music

PDiamandis : a number of XP teams are looking to sell tickets initially for about $100K : Has anyone else here read 'The Rocket Company'? I wonder if Mr Rutan is planning on an approach like that. Make the ship and sell it to everyone else.

Dehede011 : Okay

petelagrange : A fleet?

PDiamandis : Burt's an unusual genious... he loves doing "firsts"... on of a kind

PDiamandis : he says, "My favorite project is my next one" :-)

OscagneTX : hehe

PDiamandis : the similarity of our work to DD's, is that fact that we're not waiting...

PDiamandis : we're creating the future we desire.

Dehede011 : Yes

PDiamandis : many years ago I wrote "PETER'S LAWS" as an antithesis to MURPHY's LAWS

PDiamandis : don't know if you've heard of them... the 20th law is:

OscagneTX : "The cowards never left, and the weakling died on the way." or words to that effect.

PDiamandis : "The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself!"

Dehede011 : Very good

PDiamandis : questions?

OscagneTX : How long have you been pursuing this idea?

Dehede011 : There is a very obvious one. How soon? : How are plans going for the X-Cup? Or whatever you are calling the yearly competitions.

PDiamandis : I got my passion for space at the age of 9 and never stopped.

PDiamandis : The XP is something i conceived of in Dec94 and launched in May 96

PDiamandis : we expect it to be won in the next 3 months

Dehede011 : Thank you

PDiamandis : the followon called the XP CUP is going great. Just had a meeting today with Bill Gaubatz who i've hired to run this for me

PDiamandis : Bill ran the DC-X program for McDonald Douglas

Dehede011 : How did you find your passion for space, back at age nine?

PDiamandis : it came to me during the apollo program... closest thing i could use to describe it is a 'religious calling'

petelagrange : one small step

petelagrange : Holy words..almost

linnea nice has entered the room.

Dehede011 : A wonderful calling

OscagneTX : howdy.

PDiamandis : it's my mission in life... and its fun : Who do you think is second closest to an official X-Prize launch?

OscagneTX : Do you have hopes of one day going yourself? (D.D.'s dying act)

linnea nice : hi... it's Helen/Ladys122. *wave*

PDiamandis : i can't officially tell you that, but i'd look North of the US boarder

Dehede011 : When did you lay out your approach to fulfilling your calling?

OscagneTX : howdy, Helen.

LanaiHoward : Hopefully it need not be a dying act.

PDiamandis : i've started about 12 companies in the space arena

PDiamandis : for-profit and non-proft

PDiamandis : to move the space exploration ball forward... each in a different arena

PDiamandis : the key market, in my opinion is only one (right now) and that's people

Reilloc : How do you mean the key market is people?

PDiamandis : the same consumer market that opened the computer age, the internet, airlines... we need to stop flying into space 4 times per year...

PDiamandis : and start flying 4 times per day!

OscagneTX : Halleluja.

PDiamandis : i mean public spaceflight, space tourism... "Self-loading carbon payloads"

PDiamandis : they come with their own money... and there are lots of them

LanaiHoward : While it's an exotic tourist market now--is the lower acceleration in the newer launch methods generating more interest in orbital medical treatment?

Dehede011 : Yes, You call to mind the barnstormers selling rides.

PDiamandis : yes, we're in the barnstorming "phase"

Dehede011 : And it will be a "phase."

PDiamandis : the real value, next after the vehicles are developed, includes real estate and resources

Reilloc : Who owns the moon right now?

Dehede011 : I don't mean to be humorous -- on Earth or off?

PDiamandis : in that fashion i've been following dd's path... but we need to create the roads and the ships first

PDiamandis : many years ago I ran a company called BLASTOFF... long story, but it was a privately funded effort to land 3 robotic explorers on the moon

n1yqh a : Assuming that the X-PRIZE is won this year, do you have any future "bigger and better" prizes (other than the "CUP") in planning?

PDiamandis : i gave every person in my company of 60 people a copy of The Man Who Sold..." to read. We actually hired numerous lawyers to look at the question of ownership

Reilloc : I bet you did.

OscagneTX : Did they come to a consensus?

PDiamandis : bottom line is that while countries can't own the moon, individuals and/or corporations might be able to... BUT you'll need to be able to defend your stake!

PDiamandis : back to XP... we are looking at other prizes such as ORBITAL

Reilloc : Countries can't own the moon?

OscagneTX : So, we're talking claim staking, like in the gold rush?

PDiamandis : and we're looking into prizes in other arenas...medical, energy, etc.

PDiamandis : there is a moon treaty which makes national ownership of the moon a political nightmare

LanaiHoward : There's a UN space treaty, IIRC, banning national ownership of extraterrestrial objects. Good parallel with the Antarctic treaties, although they are being challenged

Reilloc : Countries who own projects that lay claim to and defend claims seem to have a superior claim to corporations operating in, no pun intended, a vacuum of governance

PDiamandis : i look forward to standing on the moon some day and planting my corporate flag...

PDiamandis : and asking them to come and kick me off ;-)

OscagneTX : LOL

Reilloc : They'll just tax you off.

n1yqh a : Of course, they'll have to come up there to tax you off!

Dehede011 : We went through much the same set of problems during the early days of this country

Reilloc : They'll assess locally, on the basis of the value of the asset attributed to situs of corporate operations.

Dehede011 : We had some very bloody mini-wars over land ownership

PDiamandis : and that's the fun part of being a pioneer... solving the problems and making up the fabric of society as you move along

OscagneTX : Are we talking moon colonies in our lifetime?

PDiamandis : my vision of the future goes something like this:

PDiamandis : win the XP in 2004

PDiamandis : begin a "barnstorming" suborbital biz in the 2005 - 2008 timeframe

PDiamandis : private orbital access in the 2008 - 2010 timeframe

PDiamandis : once you can get privately to orbit, you're 2/3rd of the way to anywhere including the moon

PDiamandis : i would be amazed if

PDiamandis : a private group didn't stockpile fuel, and consumables in low earth orbit and didn't make a b-line to the moon by 2015

PDiamandis : as to colonies.. that depends on the business model that follows : Sounds great to me. I'm more of a pessimist than that, but I would imagine you have a much better perspective than most of can manage.

PDiamandis : will there be a lunar economy? Its all going to be driven by profitabilty

Reilloc : Which brings up the other Heinlein you may have read...

n1yqh a : Aside from tourism (both suborbital and orbital, and I suppose eventually lunar), do you have any "favorite" (i.e. likely to succeed) revenue-producing space activity in mind?

LanaiHoward : Have you done any economic studies about the tradeoffs between lunar communications relays/transmitters and geosynchronous satellites?

PDiamandis : I've read most everything Heilein has written

LanaiHoward : :-(Prison s do seem to he a US growth industry, but I hope we don't go that way.

PDiamandis : the moon can be used for many things... but mostly its a resource post... for oxygen, aluminum, iron, and even precious metals

PDiamandis : you can set up low cost solar collection stations and beam power

OscagneTX : How affordable do you think orbital tourism can be made? We don't all have 20M. (Or we'd be doing business with Soyuzes)

PDiamandis : just like the early colonies in the US had to have a "cash crop" (tabacco) so will the moon colonies need that to survive and thrive

PDiamandis : lets look at the economics of orbital tourism, they are fascinating

PDiamandis : today one of my companies, Space ADventures, sells a orbital flight for $20M

starfall2 has entered the room.

LanaiHoward : Raw resources, as opposed to specialized manufacturing making use of vacuum, low gravity, solar energy?

PDiamandis : the cost of any mature tranport vehicle... a car, boat, plane is about 3 times the cost of fuel

PDiamandis : the cost of fuel for a soyuz is about $750,000

PDiamandis : it carries 3 people

n1yqh a : Do you have any "cash crop" in mind that could be sold profitably back to Earth, or do you mostly see a Lunar presence as a cheaper way to support an orbital presence?

PDiamandis : so the cost of a seat in a "mature" version of a SOyuz could come down to $750K

PDiamandis : but wait there's still more...

PDiamandis : if you were to calculate the total amount of energy it takes to put you and a spacesuit into orbit...

PDiamandis : you'd first cacluate the potential energy =mgh (to get your to 200 miles)...

PDiamandis : and then the kenetic energy to accelerate you to 17,500 mph = 1/2mv^2

PDiamandis : hope everyone is remembering their highschool physics here!!!

Dehede011 : I do now.

n1yqh a : Including their units coversion factors! ;-)

PDiamandis : you'd end up with a certain amount of gigajules of energy required...

linnea nice : I was supposed to take Physics in High School? :-)

PDiamandis : and then you'ed expend that energy over some period of time, say an hour to get the kilowatts of power you need to launch yourself

starfall2 : i was supposed to listen to physics in high school?

PDiamandis : if you bought the energy off the power grid... about 7cents per kilowat hour

PDiamandis : any idea how much it would cost to launch yourself and spacesuite into orbit?

LanaiHoward : Are you suggesting electromagnetic mass drivers sooner rather than later?

PDiamandis : any guesses?

Dehede011 : No,

Reilloc : Let's see...

PDiamandis : come one guess.

Reilloc : $1,500

PDiamandis : other?

OscagneTX : 10,000?

Dehede011 : $100

PDiamandis : the price to launch yourself is, yes ...

PDiamandis : $100

Dehede011 : SWAG

Reilloc : What's it cost to get you back alive?

PDiamandis : so we have a tremendous price improvement curve from $20M...down to $100

Dehede011 : On my part.

OscagneTX : *reaches into pocket* whenever you're ready.

PDiamandis : we'll need to invent new physics and new designs, but once we have a successful industry, that is profitable, that WILL happen

OscagneTX : Is everyone ready for a break?

Reilloc : I appreciate your enthusiasm but this raw cost argument sounds to me like a guy trying to sell me on a lease instead of a purchase of a new car.

Dehede011 : Doctor, I am a retired Industrial Engineer -- based on experience we have to be eyeball to eyeball with a very advantageous learning curve

Reilloc : Sure, the power cost makes it look affordable but it's not just going up that's the problem.

PDiamandis : i'm actually not selling anything... just saying that the way its been for the past 40 years, isn't the way it needs to be in the future

PDiamandis : the problem has been the lack of demand, the lack of ships and the lack of investment capital

Dehede011 : Look at the learning curve for aviation, or most any industry once it is in private industry and pursued for the profit motive

PDiamandis : the XP was designed to help crack this problem

PDiamandis : the aviation learning curve is a perfect example

Reilloc : Investors need more short-term return incentives.

Dehede011 : Well, thank goodness you got onto the problem

PDiamandis : in 1903 - 1908 we had only 6 aircraft and less than 10 pilots in the world

LanaiHoward : At least, _US_ financial market investors seem to want shorter-term return.

PDiamandis : in 1908, the wright brothers went to europe and demonstrated their aircraft

PDiamandis : then between 1909 and 1912 there was a renaissance and 1000 new pilots were created in 30 countries

LanaiHoward : There is the 1950-ish IBM statement that there would be a market for less than 10 computers, or Ken Olsen's prediction there would be no reason for an individual to own a computer.

PDiamandis : yup

PDiamandis : and then apple came along

LanaiHoward : In all fairness, there are differences between early aviation and commercialization of spaceflight. Rate of return is one, but liability & indemnification is another

Reilloc : That's not a problem.

Reilloc : Everybody signs a blanket release.

PDiamandis : yes, we live in latigious society today

OscagneTX : A question in relation to aviation: Didn't WWI have a huge role in advancing aviation's ubiquity? How would the absence of that leg-up affect the curve in the case of space-flight?

n1yqh a : You could argue that space already had a cold-war "leg up", and just didn't take advantage of it...

PDiamandis : yes, WAR and Prizes drove aviation

LanaiHoward : I'm thinking less of the direct participants, than the nuisance suits that a launch scared a cow--or the potential of a major accident.

LanaiHoward : (noting DD Harriman did kill a cow and said they'd just have steak for dinner)

Reilloc : I think the difference is, regarding aviation's history, it became a parcel and passenger service.

Reilloc : In the case of spaceflight, what's the next market?

Reilloc : After barnstorming joyrides.

PDiamandis : after passengers, the next market is resources

Dehede011 : We have long since had economic models for a sub orbital parcel service -- we need the ships

Reilloc : What resources?

PDiamandis : energy, metals, real estate.. the stuff we fight wars over hear on earth

OscagneTX : Which direction are you thinking AFA resources? Comets? Asteriods? Moon?

PDiamandis : an average 1 km nickel-iron asteriod is worth $30TRILLION in today's precious metal market

n1yqh a : Space-based resources for space uses (i.e. lunar resources for orbital uses) I can see, but what kind of resources do you think would be able to be returned to Earth at a profit?

Reilloc : He said power/energy.

PDiamandis : of course, you'd flatten the markets, but you'd by "puts" first before launching the mission

LanaiHoward : Have you done the analysis for that asteroid as ore, or that asteroid as precision machined parts (burdened with industrial costs)]

Reilloc : And "calls" if you hit paydirt? : Platinum group metals.

n1yqh a : (as all the engineers in the audience drool over cheap PGM's...<<grin>)

PDiamandis : you'd need to really create a space-based economy.

LanaiHoward : Lots of advantages for chemical manufacturing -- heat and compression energy, vacuum -- need to be creative about toxic waste disposal...

PDiamandis : send energy and certain resources back to earth... use the rest in space to support a growing population base and economy... just like AMERICA and Europe

LanaiHoward : or safe storage of toxic wastes that may eventually be feedstock to new reactions.

PDiamandis : i'll need to wrap up shortly... any last questions?

LanaiHoward : I tend to think of the value proposition in manufactured rather than raw materials.

PDiamandis : yes, agreed, you'd want to add value in space, take advantage of the unique environment, or even the isolation

OscagneTX : Where's your money coming for at this moment, Doc?

OscagneTX : For the X-Prize?

PDiamandis : high risk genetic experiments in an isolated lab, surrounded by vacuum, etc. : How big (# of people) is the X-Prize foundation? How big do you think the XP Cup organization will be?

DavidWrightSr has entered the room.

OscagneTX : Howdy, David.

DavidWrightSr : Hi folks. sorry I am late. computer acting up. may have to leave.

OscagneTX : Dr. Diamandis is about to have to go, David, if you want to get in a quick question.

PDiamandis : X PRIZE is funded by donations and sponsorships. everyone hear should go to the website and join as a member ($20) or a senior associate ($200)!

DavidWrightSr : Thank you, but no. I am looking forward to reading the log, however. My thanks for his willing to be here for us.

DavidWrightSr has left the room.

n1yqh a : Since you've already funded the PRIZE itself, what would those sponsorships go towards?

PDiamandis : my pleasure.

PDiamandis : the money is being used to run the competition and our education outreach

PDiamandis : we're looking to fund a global webcast of the flights and a science center network

PDiamandis : we're still looking to raise another $500,000 over the next few months

OscagneTX : How closely involved to you get with the flights, themselves?

PDiamandis : our goal is to make sure that these flights become "pivotal, paradigm changing events" for youth around the world

Dehede011 : I hope you get to ride on the 1st for prize flight

OscagneTX : THAT would be a prize.

PDiamandis : the teams run the flights... we make sure that we tell their stories and loud and accurately as possible

n1yqh a : From the media coverage of SS1 a couple of weeks ago, I'd have to say you're on the right track...

PDiamandis : :-) i would love to take a flight and believe me, that's in my plans!

Dehede011 : Yeah? I still hope you get the ride also

Reilloc : Wave as you go over Kansas.

PDiamandis : yes, we hit the front page of more than 100 papers in 20 countries

OscagneTX : That's outstanding.

Dehede011 : You predict 3 months until go?

PDiamandis : folks, Robert Heinlein's work, still today, after 50 years is as fresh, and visionary as it has ever been

petelagrange : It's a human effort

PDiamandis : it is a business plan to all of us to help open the space frontier.

PDiamandis : I thank you for inviting me.

OscagneTX : Thanks, alot, for coming to chat with us, Doc. I, for one, enjoyed it very much.

Reilloc : Thanks for taking the time.

starfall2 : thank you for coming here!

Dehede011 : Thanks for coming.

petelagrange : Thanks for all your efforts

n1yqh a : Good luck with the next few months...

PDiamandis : my pleasure all... visit our site and watch the launches on line with us. See you in space!

OscagneTX : We wish you all the luck, and I know I'll be following your efforts closely.

Dehede011 : Space will open, it is a pleasure talking to the man that opened it.

PDiamandis : good night.

OscagneTX : good night, Doc.

PDiamandis has left the room.

petelagrange : see you all

petelagrange has left the room.

OscagneTX : Time for a BB break?

n1yqh a : Thanks, Oscagene, for getting Dr. Diamandis to participate tonight...

OscagneTX : Your welcome.\

OscagneTX : All it took was an email, though. He's first reply said that Heinlein's stories "drove" him.\

Dehede011 : Oscagne, when I was a boy I knew a man that had seen Lincoln. This is very possibly in that category

OscagneTX : I feel the same way. My wife has no idea why I'm so excited.

OscagneTX : Was anyone dissapointed? LNC? You seemed rather underwhelmed.

Reilloc : Rutan might be the Lincoln analogue but this guy was nice to come and talk with us.

OscagneTX : I also sent invites to a dozen-or-so teams, including SS1, but only got replies from Dr. Diamandis and one team leader (who later dropped out of contact).

OscagneTX : Oh... Composites sent a reply saying they wouldn't be able to come.

Reilloc : He's close to what's actually going on in an area we all like and it's rare to be able to have this kind of inside information.

Dehede011 : No, no money, no Rutan.

Reilloc : Allen

LanaiHoward : I was disappointed. Didn't feel that specific questions were answered -- for example, he dwelled on energy costs but ducked the question on mass drivers...

aggirlj has entered the room.

aggirlj : Hi guys

Reilloc : Rutan's got money, too.

LanaiHoward : Kept talking about ores but wasn't specific about benefits of manufacturing -- also ignored medical, communications questions

Dehede011 : He is a financier not Rutan

OscagneTX : Well, too, he said the money is just the draw, isn't it? It's the bona fides for a prize that probably won't even cover fuel costs. %^)

LanaiHoward : And I was asking these as financial, not technical, questiosn

OscagneTX : Howdy, Jane.

aggirlj : Where's David?

Reilloc : I'll be goddam, it's Jane Silver.

Dehede011 : Howdy Jane

starfall2 : hi

OscagneTX : Haven't seen him.

aggirlj : Hey, LN

Reilloc : We kicked Dave out.

aggirlj : k

Dehede011 : He got rambunctuous

n1yqh a : Oh, the XP will cover fuel costs AT LEAST roughly 20-fold, even for SS1 (which is likely to be one of the most expensively fueled entries)

Reilloc : Kept asking Diamandis to change his name to Harriman.

aggirlj : Okay, how far behind am I, should I get some Grand Marnier

Reilloc : You're so far behind you missed him.

OscagneTX : Yeah, he left about ten minutes ago. (Diamandis)

aggirlj : Well let me catch up.

Reilloc : Nobody had any orange liquer, so he left.

aggirlj : brb

OscagneTX : You need someone to send you a log?

aggirlj : would you please

OscagneTX : sure

aggirlj :

aggirlj : btw, to those who do not know, I am Jane David's sibling.

Reilloc : I thought you were his sister.

aggirlj : got it

aggirlj : hardy har har har

OscagneTX : Howard, do you think he was intentionally ignoring your med questions?

n1yqh a : There's not enough real data about medical aspects of microgravity to be able to build any sort of a business case yet, so he probably didn't have any answers to give...

Reilloc : I don't think he ignored anything.

LanaiHoward : I don't know. I could see the medical being missed -- but I asked very specific cost-benefit questions in other areas: communications, manufacturing, launch (esp. lunar) alternatives

n1yqh a : (actually, the only data so far is all "bad stuff" data- bone loss, etc)

Reilloc : In an hour, he can't cover the whole field.

OscagneTX : That's what I thought, LN.

LanaiHoward : In particular, he seemed to overemphasize basic resources rather than value-added, the latter being very critical when mass costs money.

Dehede011 : I seriously wonder if the answer to any of those questions even exists or will exist until we have done it

LanaiHoward : The tradeoffs between moon-based and geosynchronous communications for specific applications have been explored

n1yqh a : Basic resources are more reliably estimated at the moment, since (as with medicine) there's not yet any real data on manufacturing in microgravity...

LanaiHoward : I agree it's easier to estimate basic resources. I don't, however, see that as making a strong financial case. We DO have lots of data on communications....

Dehede011 : I thought it was revealing that he mentioned the cost of $100 in energy purchased at the wall outlet for putting us into orbit

Reilloc : Revealing how?

OscagneTX : Yeah, that didn't take a lot of stuff into account.

LanaiHoward : While moon-based transmitters don't have 24-hour coverage, they can compete with geosynchronous, potentially, for such things as bulk updates.

OscagneTX : Ron, that comment about "inventing new physics" goes along with that.

LanaiHoward : As far as that $100 at the wall outlet, that's specifically why I asked about electromagnetic mass drivers. Just citing electrical energy, with no way of efficient conversion, is misleading.

Dehede011 : I can't talk about all of engineering but every time I was around we first found the economic advantage to a proposal. When that was advantageous enough we dug in deeper

Reilloc : Would you buy a used car from this guy?

LanaiHoward : Osc, a lot of things are understood, not new physics. Communications is probably best understood

Dehede011 : Absolutely

LanaiHoward : Mp

Dehede011 : But I would inspect the car myself

LanaiHoward : No (cat assisted communications)

n1yqh a : FWIW, a quick and dirty BOTE (well, actually, in Excel) showed $90 at $.07/kWh for 150kg mass. At a WAG 3% payload mass ratio, that's at just about $10/lb, which seems reasonable...

Dehede011 : Trust but verify

LanaiHoward : Right. But besides mass drivers, how does that electrical energy convert to something useful for spaceflight? Hydrogen-oxygen electrolysis, then burdened with the cryogenic infrastructure cost?

OscagneTX : No, what I meant was: Physics is physics, right? You can invent new techniques to deal with it, you can invent new theories to describe it, but "we need to invent new physics" smacks of something that he'd sell to...

OscagneTX : non-scientifically oriented business types.

Dehede011 : but the fact that he used that number told me he probably wasn't ready to justify on a more refined basis

n1yqh a : On the flip side, energy in the form of LH2/LOX (or LOX/kero) is lots cheaper than electricity from the wall...

LanaiHoward : If LH2/LOX is cheaper, great! But use the data -- yes, it felt like a canned speech to financial people --

Dehede011 : The point I got from that was we have reason to believe we can find an advantage.

Reilloc : Harriman wasn't a science guy, either.

LanaiHoward : and wearing my hat of product line manager, I wouldn't recommend investing unless he got a LOT more specific about known technologies.

n1yqh a : The "cost of energy" number is probably reasonable to use as a "theoretical minimum to aim for but never actually reach" number, which is what he seemed to be using it as...

Dehede011 : True, by the time it is delivered to you there should be blue prints and the whole nine yards

OscagneTX : In all fairness, though, we're not a board of directors. He didn't NEED to convince us to give him xM$ tomorrow.

n1yqh a : And as far as "non-scientifically oriented" -- he doesn't exactly know us or our backgrounds (hell, do *we* even know us and our backgrounds?)...

Dehede011 : But this is enough to convince a group of engineers they can justify spending engineering time on the proposal

n1yqh a : giving us the "board of directors non-scientific" overview was probably appropriate...

LanaiHoward : Entertainment was a substantial but not overwhelming part of DD's funding. It got ignored. Whatshisname the power syndicate head accepted basic research

Reilloc : Anybody listened to the XP song yet?

LanaiHoward : Can a background be inferred from a question? Let's put it this way -- I used to be a technical backup for a retired general, who was head of NSA. He knew when to say -- that needs a specialist answer...

aggirlj : no.

LanaiHoward : not just to avoid it

aggirlj : guide me LN, would like to hear it.

Reilloc : sec...

Dehede011 : In consulting our salesmen often took the high road and answered that they didn't know but their engineer did

Reilloc :

aggirlj : thx

Reilloc : All in all, I got the kinda creepy feeling that he wasn't selling the moon, he was buying it.

aggirlj : way cool

Reilloc : Way '50's.

LanaiHoward : Yep. An answer saying he'd have someone get back, or point to a link, etc., would have been fine

aggirlj : Maybe what it should be, back to the 50's and that dream

starfall2 : well, i've got to go. bye!

starfall2 has left the room.

aggirlj : by Jackie

aggirlj : bue

aggirlj : bye

aggirlj : nevermind

OscagneTX : Howard, I don't know how appropriate that'd be for an informal chat situation... even referring a link means he'd have to have one handy while he was trying to anwer abour 5 questions at once.

n1yqh a : On a side note -- apparently there's a group with a B-727 who thinks they can make a profit selling parabolic "zero-g" flights for $3k ... It may not be space tourism, but it's a step in the right direction...

n1yqh a : ""

Dehede011 : Listening to him I remember that back in 54 I had a plan for being a crew member on the first moonship.

aggirlj : entrepernurial, wonderful.

Reilloc : How long's the period of weightlessness?

OscagneTX : cool. His assistant's isp is "" or something like that. : 30 seconds weightless at a time. : Maybe 20 hops per flight? Maybe more than that.

LanaiHoward : Osc, I recognize that is a problem. Even if he had faced it said that was more detailed than he could discuss in chat, maybe mention a site for questions and go on. This just left me a bad taste. has left the room.

LanaiHoward : As with my old boss, if I knew his background enough to know he was credible in making big projects happen, it would help. This felt like snake oil.

n1yqh a : There's a reasonable BBS at the xprize website, and a few of the boards even have useful info on them. Others, well, it's a public BBS... <<grin>

aggirlj : must have been bumpted.

aggirlj : Never happens with us mac's

Reilloc : Howard, it was snakeoil and I think that's fine.

LanaiHoward : (comforts my mac) The Rodney Dangerfields of computing

Reilloc : The most he was going to get here was publicity and the $20 a bottle snakeoil costs these days.

LanaiHoward : Seriously, what does snake oil buy in this sort of chat? I've come out of this less enthused for the Foundation than before

Dehede011 : Guys it ain't snake oil they have one flight that exceeded 100 km altitude

OscagneTX : Snake oil gives you no return.

LanaiHoward : They, or Rutan and his backers?

aggirlj : Since I only skimmed the log I was wondering, did this X competition help?

OscagneTX : At the very least, he's caused an honest-to-goodness private spaceflight.

Reilloc : Snake oil makes you feel like there's a real cure to be had, someday.

LanaiHoward : Almost all of the news I've seen focuses on Rutan, etc., not X prize

Dehede011 : Yep, and just cause he won't reveal all to us is just too bad

Reilloc : Right on, Ron.

Dehede011 : No, there is a lot on X Prize

OscagneTX : The X prize was Rutan's motivation, though.

LanaiHoward : I guess I've spent too much time in medicine, where someone has more credibility if they stay quiet than hype.

aggirlj : Used to be the same in law, not anymore.

Dehede011 : Different roles

LanaiHoward : About the disclosure -- I've never seen a major press conference where there weren't some ground rules.

Reilloc : Harriman was hypemaster, that was the point of the story.

Dehede011 : Right

LanaiHoward : Maybe it's that I've had to fight for investment capital myself.

Reilloc : If you think we'd have had Harriman here instead of this guy, we'd have gotten better answers?

Reilloc : No.

n1yqh a : I dunno how much the X-Prize was (is?) Rutan's motivation, given that he's widely speculated to have spent at least two to three times the prize amount already...

Dehede011 : Harriman/Heinlein would have really fed us a line

n1yqh a : But it certainly has spurred a lot of activity among a lot of different groups even if much of that activity is not directly aimed at winning it.

aggirlj : Why not if that is what it takes.

Reilloc : Agreed.

LanaiHoward : To be honest, under the conditions of the novella, I wouldn't have invested in Harriman. I saw better and equally creative opportunities in other areas.

OscagneTX : That's the thing. It's the prize, not the money. Someone had to set the goal. The money was just his credentials.

Dehede011 : Like the referree at the beginning of a basketball someone has to put the ball in the air

OscagneTX : He said Rutan's big motivation is to be first at something, anything. What'er the odds Rutan wouldv'e chosen spaceflight if there hadn't been an x prize?

aggirlj : And it got it back into the media and some limited interest.

LanaiHoward : How many things has Rutan already done without prizes?

Reilloc : Used to be space was glamour.

n1yqh a : I think Rutan would have done spaceflight anyways if he could have found the financial backing; the prize just helped him get that backing.

Dehede011 : Who knows if the prize attracted ten other guys and that is what got Rutan's attention

Dehede011 : At this distance we have no way of knowing

n1yqh a : Paul Allen has, after all, publically stated that he'd like to win the prize to reduce his overall expenses in SS1 (*not* to try to make money off it, as they've spent far too much for that already)

Dehede011 : I wish I could retrace my steps and find that reference that Rutan expected to sell tickets later.

aggirlj : The smaller prize is in the offing. We have a grant with the Heinlein Prize Trust that is available. I am sure they are considering some candidates as we speak

Reilloc : I'll bet you Allen's structured his participation to make his support as expensible as possible.

n1yqh a : The time limit did make things very interesting this year, though... Since the XP is funded by a "hole-in-one insurance policy" which means that if it's not won by Dec 31 2004 it goes away.

Reilloc : Really?

aggirlj : No!

OscagneTX : I never head about that...

Reilloc : Who's the underwriter?

n1yqh a : I don't remember the underwriter offhand, but that's why there's SO much activity this summer. They never actually raised the full $10million, and about two years ago they came up with this method

aggirlj : Sounds a little fishy.

n1yqh a : So the various teams manyof whom have been working for eight years or so at a slow pace suddenly speeded up to try to make the deadline

Reilloc : Not so fishy, really.

Reilloc : Diamandis was obviously a shrewd business guy.

n1yqh a : It's legit, all right

Reilloc : I'd love to compare the terms of the policy with the rules of the prize.

n1yqh a : I don't have the references handy (I'm on the laptop at the moment, and they're not) but I'll see if I can do some quick digging.

aggirlj : Where does it go?

OscagneTX : brb

OscagneTX : b

Dehede011 : I really only have one gripe about the SS1 approach. I am an old ex-airplane driver and I want to fly that sucker.

Dehede011 : LOL

OscagneTX : Reports said he had some problems up there when He got released, Ron.

OscagneTX : h/H

Dehede011 : His primary control circuitry blew, he went to the backup.

OscagneTX : News said that shortened his flight. Is that right?

Dehede011 : It cost him about 35 or 40 thousand feet of altitude.

Dehede011 : That caused a problem with the flight path

OscagneTX : I've got a dumb question... are they not yet having to do anything about reentry?

OscagneTX : It doesn't look like the ship is very temp-resistent.

Dehede011 : ??

n1yqh a : They're not going fast enough to really need to worry about thermal issues

n1yqh a : Not enough kinetic energy to have to lose.

OscagneTX : Ah.

n1yqh a : Well, that's an oversimplification - they *do* need to worry, but less than a tenth as much as an orbital reentry

OscagneTX : That'll be for the Orbital prize contestants to worrry about.

Dehede011 : About worry, I never saw a flight, even in a Piper Cub, where the pilot didn't do a good preflight

n1yqh a : The orbital prize will be very interesting... more than an order of magnitude more energy needed to go up, and then you have to lose it all coming back down.... :-)

OscagneTX : Only reason I was asking... wasn't the first US spaceflight the same altitude? That was way before my time. I thought the first Mercury capsule had to deal with it, even though it was sub-orbital.

Dehede011 : There was a communications blackout due to the static caused by the shedding of heat if I remember correctlly

LanaiHoward : Probably a better comparison, Osc, are the X15 flights. Lower speeds in and out of space.

Dehede011 : BRB

n1yqh a : The X15 flights, IIRC, were actually faster and higher than the XP flights are anticipated to be...

LanaiHoward : there was heating on the X15, but not as much as Mercury

OscagneTX : The first Mercury _was_ suborbital, right? Or was it simply over-engineered for the first shot, knowing they'd need it later?

Dehede011 : There is one area of concern I have with flying SS1 that no is my chief concern and no one has mentioned it.

LanaiHoward : First and second Mercury were suborbital -- Sheppard and Grissom. X15 did go suborbital in roughly the same time period. Would have been very interesting if Dyna-Soar hadn't been cancelled

Dehede011 : no one has mentioned.

OscagneTX : yes, Ron?

LanaiHoward : Telemetry?

Dehede011 : You land that sucker dead stick, no wave offs

OscagneTX : Same with the Shuttle.

Dehede011 : Yes, but I'll bet they have much more guidance than SS1. Blow that landing and a guy is dead, dead, dead

Dehede011 : Still that pilot has flown everything but a barn door

OscagneTX : They don't have any eject-type precautions, either, do they?

LanaiHoward : IIRC, part of the modifications for the shuttle includes ejection capability for all.

n1yqh a : SS1 probably flies much better than the Shuttle since it's not optomised for orbital reentry aerodynamics, so it's not nearly as dangerous...

Dehede011 : Not that I have heard of.

Reilloc : Jesus, I go away for a minute to flirt with Jane and the technogeeks take over.

Dehede011 : Its speed on final is probably much slower.

n1yqh a : Besides, they're landing in the middle of a desert instead of on a leeetle teensy strip in a swamp (i.e. KSC)

Dehede011 : But look at the aspect ratio on those wings. That thing would roll like a ball.

Dehede011 : No, they have a runway and the borders don't look all that inviting

Dehede011 : Seriously, I'll bet that thing would spin like a top at the drop of a hat.

Dehede011 : Course Lazarus Long would fly it, no sweat.

Dehede011 : Sorry Woodrow Wilson ???

OscagneTX : Just have to lose 50 lbs, right?

Reilloc : Aaron Sheffield.

LanaiHoward : Captain John Carter of Virginia?

Dehede011 : Was he Woody Johnson as a small boy? He took flying lessons.

Dehede011 : And I believe Woody was the backup pilot for Harriman

n1yqh a : Re: the insurance angle for the XP: The underwriter is AON Corp.

Reilloc : I'll bet the premium on the policy's deductable as a business expense.

n1yqh a : And now that I've found that, it's bedtime (got to be at the lab early tomorrow - being a slave^H^H^H "grad student" has its definite down sides...<<grin>) - goodnight all

Reilloc : 'night, n1

n1yqh a has left the room.

linnea nice : night

linnea nice has left the room.

Reilloc : I move adjouning.

OscagneTX : That's fine.

Dehede011 : Before adjorning are there any questions? Comments? Snide Remarks?

OscagneTX : Any objections?

aggirlj : No

OscagneTX : Ok. Log closed.

End of Discussion


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