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The View From 2015: Integrated Space Plan's 100-Year Plan 36

garyebickford writes: Wired Magazine has posted an article about the new 2015 version of the Integrated Space Plan, updated 14 years after the last version and descended directly from the original 1989 version. The original one was printed in the thousands, distributed by Rockwell, and appeared on walls throughout the space industry. One even hung behind the NASA administrator's desk. The new one is prettier, great for dorm room walls and classrooms, and Integrated Space Analytics, the company behind it, promises to expand their website into an up-to-date, live interactive tool. This is a great new beginning after over 30 years.
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The View From 2015: Integrated Space Plan's 100-Year Plan

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  • Has it been more than 30 years since 1989 already?

  • science fiction (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Saturday August 29, 2015 @01:48PM (#50416525)
    Until NASA's real, actual use-this-money budget comes in 20 year cycles it's just science fiction. Here [] is a chart of NASA's budget. I'm not going to say whether it's too much or too little in this comment, that's not the point. The big problem is NASA has no idea whether sequestration and budget games, the presidential fad this decade, or party politics is going to increase, eliminate, or do weird things with their budget. Maybe they'll have money for Orion [] or maybe the President will do away with it with the sweep of a pen. Maybe we can send up ten shuttles a month at a low cost per shuttle. Or maybe we'll have to cut that way, way back until the cost [] is hard to justify. From Mars to space stations to earth science the fad of the day dictates what NASA is building this year -- and worse, where [] it's building it.

    There have been noises in the direction of stabilizing things and NASA is a fairly popular, if misunderstood, organization. But it's not enough. We need a NASA funding omnibus bill that sets NASA funds, be they generous or miserly, and NASA plans in stone.
    • Re:science fiction (Score:5, Informative)

      by DanielRavenNest ( 107550 ) on Saturday August 29, 2015 @02:30PM (#50416749)

      I was one of the contributors to this plan, and one of the big misconceptions is that NASA is the only player in space. In reality, worldwide space industry was $323 billion in 2014, and NASA's $17.6 billion only represented 5.45%. Most of the 1250 active satellites in Earth orbit are commercial ones, and a lot of innovation is happening in that arena. For example, ion thrusters for boosting to synchronous orbit are standard procedure these days, using solar arrays 2.5 times as efficient as the ones powering the Space Station. SpaceX is working on recovering their first stage so it can be used again, while NASA is going backwards on the SLS solid boosters. In the Shuttle era the boosters were 2/3 re-used, on SLS they will be thrown away.

      • " of the big misconceptions is that NASA is the only player in space."

        Just look at the amazing proliferation of ISS cargo run providers we are seeing today.

    • Re:science fiction (Score:5, Interesting)

      by garyebickford ( 222422 ) <gar37bic AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday August 29, 2015 @03:03PM (#50416905)

      To Dani's comment, I'll just add that, the day that an asteroid assay is done and proves that the thing is actually more than 1% platinum, or any other of the many proposed ways to make space economically interesting proves out, the land rush will be on. Private investment by institutions today is difficult because many of the business models are speculative, the terrain is unknown, the payout time frame of 10-20 years is way too long for VCs, who want to get paid in five or less. As soon as somebody shows that their business is more than a pipe dream, things will happen fast. But already the angel investors are working about a dozen deals per year in space-related startups. Many of these are for small companies that are already profitable or cash flow positive but don't have the cash to go to the next step. I look forward to when the majority of launches to LEO and beyond are for private commercial purposes.

      • Interesting. I was under the impression that robotic mining of asteroids are still several orders of magnitude away from being profitable - but then I have never seen any detailed economic modelling on the proposal. Have you got access to this modelling?
        • There are two copies actively engaged. The one that AFAIK is farthest ahead is Planetary Resources []. I think their investors include James Cameron and Tom Hanks. :) I quote from their page on Asteroid Composition:

          "One of Planetary Resources targets is an X-type asteroid, and may have more platinum that has ever been mined on Earth to date."

          I recall that the head of PR was asked if bringing so much platinum back to Earth would crash the market, and he said he expected it. He thought they could make money at $10 to $100 per ounce (the present price is around $1300 per ounce). Platinum is especially interesting because it is a hugel

          • Sigh. "copies" => "companies". And the other one to mention is Deep Space Industries. There are some others as well.

        • Right now, the best cost for getting stuff to GEO transfer orbit is ~$5000/kg. That includes propellant to complete getting to GEO, which is the desired destination. Hauling loads of asteroid rock to Earth orbit, and processing them for propellant could generate about 100 tons a year, thus worth $500 million/year, with 40-100 tons of starter equipment, and an additional 100 tons/year for each 20 tons more equipment (mainly more ore tugs to fetch rock faster). The trick is to do it at low enough cost to m

      • That would be great, but based on the papers I've seen (here, for example []), "1% platinum" is high by at least two orders of magnitude -- that would be 10000 ppm; actual estimates are closer to 100 ppm, and that's for the very richest of precious-metal-rich asteroids. Am I missing more recent analyses?

        • I haven't looked into this recently. This is a good example why it's difficult to get traditional investment entities like VCs to invest in these highly speculative ventures - nobody really knows what's out there. Platinum is fun to talk about, but IMHO the markets for in-space re-fueling, satellite maintenance, possibly space tourism, a robotic lunar research facility (prototype self-constructing system), and similar more mundane aspects have higher near-term probabilities.

          OTOH, platinum on Earth is extr

        • 1% is too high, 100 ppm is the correct number for a "good" metals-rich asteroid. However, most of the value in an asteroid is the bulk materials. A ton of metallic asteroid is worth at least $5 million if turned into something useful in high orbit, because that how much it costs to deliver *anything* to that orbit today. the PM content is 100 grams, worth ~$3,200. Anyone who thinks PM is the reason to mine asteroids hasn't talked to a mining geologist about ore values.

          • I tend to agree, though IANA planetary geologist. Folks tend to forget the value of things like nickel-iron, which could become one of the primary materials for constructing machines in space. It may well be that simple in-space products such as water and its constituents hydrogen and oxygen will become the largest economic activity for some time. Platinum is attractive in part because of the "Gold syndrome" - "OMG it's like GOLD! And it's just laying around out there, ins SPACE!" It does get people's a

      • To Dani's comment, I'll just add that, the day that an asteroid assay is done and proves that the thing is actually more than 1% platinum, or any other of the many proposed ways to make space economically interesting proves out, the land rush will be on.

        There is no mineral or resource valuable enough that you wouldn't got broke bringing it back to Earth - even if it were stacked in neat little ingots so you wouldn't have to refine it, just open the hatch and shovel it in. None. Zip. Zero. Nada.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    First stop spending trillions of dollars fighting and killing brown people just because you don't believe in their religion and/or they have lots of oil.

  • Clearly they're not taking into account a new administration cancelling the previous one's big NASA project so they can 1. save money and 2. deny them a Kennedy moment years down the road.

    • One of the biggest changes in focus between the old plan and the new one is the de-emphasis on "NASA does all". As the online version of the Plan evolves, this will continue to change. I can't say when the commercial space budget will exceed NASA's, but it will be happen if all goes well. This may be a terrible example, but it kinda fits - Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to explore and map the Louisiana Purchase, and continue on to the Pacific Ocean, to learn what might be learned.
      Per this article [],

  • []

    I guess the main difference is the morons who did this 100 year plan aren't controlling a government.

    • The big difference between the 1989 Plan and this one is that from the beginning this Plan is intended to incorporate the fact of some 40 national space programs (Ecuador and Kenya both have nascent space programs), and that the path to space is no longer a single plan but a herd - for lack of a better word - of different entities with different goals, motivations and theories, but some common goals. Many entities want a lunar outpost for various kinds of research, including research on requirements for a

      • by hattig ( 47930 )

        So it's really like a vertical Gantt chart of space related technological developments, where a delay* high up the chart could cascade down the chart tenfold (at least that seems to be what happens in reality).

        * That delay is usually caused by cost cutting. The eventual price paid of the cost cutting is often 10x the savings from the cost cutting.

        But you could make an online version of this chart, where you can change the completion dates to fit your own beliefs, and see how far into the future we can push

A method of solution is perfect if we can forsee from the start, and even prove, that following that method we shall attain our aim. -- Leibnitz