Return To The Moon

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David T. Bilek

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Dec 4, 2003, 1:07:25 AM12/4/03
to
So it is apparently expected that Bush is going to announce a
re-commitment to manned space exploration centered around a return to
the moon, including a possible base there.

If true, the 2004 elections have just gotten a hell of a lot tougher
for me. I do not expect Howard Dean to endorse such a program.

-David

@nospamatomicrazor.com Dave O'Neill

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Dec 4, 2003, 3:13:24 AM12/4/03
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"Nate Edel" <arch...@sfchat.org> wrote in message
news:7f43a1-...@mail.sfchat.org...

> David T. Bilek <dtb...@comcast.net> wrote:
> > So it is apparently expected that Bush is going to announce a
> > re-commitment to manned space exploration centered around a return to
> > the moon, including a possible base there.
>
> Bush the Elder and Reagan both talked a good game on space, and gave us
> nothing worth mentioning on the manned-space-program front. We've still
> just had the space shuttle ... when it's flying at all.

We should not forget Bush the Elder's manned space initiative.

Well, then again, everybody else has.

Martha H Adams

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Dec 4, 2003, 7:06:56 AM12/4/03
to
I think Bush can talk a good story about "We're going back to the
Moon," but he can't do it. This can only be an empty election ploy: a
billboard picture propped up in front of empty urban decay.

I think, he's just pushed us through a real Asimovian crisis. But
unlike in Asimov's Foundation stories, there is no requirement a good
outcome keeps the story going. Things have turned out wrong way and
first we have to recover from what happened. If we can, and I expect
that will take decades, well beyond my time. The choices were:

1) Lots of money to the military industrial complex and a war to burn
up the resulting production, useless for any constructive work;

2) Moderate policies and more money into exploration and settlement
into space.

There's just not enough money at hand for both. Actually, not enough
for even the one he chose, as we see him mortgaging the well being of
our children and of our elders, to pay for his intended military
programs and exploits. So how can we as a country also mount a space
program?

Simple. Bush can talk about it, he can project a fireworks of words
about proposed slick and shiny programs. But as a country, *we can't
do that.* The choice is already made.

Sorrows. -- Martha Adams


Elisabeth Riba

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Dec 4, 2003, 7:36:30 AM12/4/03
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Martha H Adams <m...@theworld.com> wrote:
> I think, he's just pushed us through a real Asimovian crisis.

Some attribute the fall of the Soviet Union to their government bankrupting
itself out of a competitive desire to keep up with the Joneses (US).

I saw a recent article suggesting that one of the goals/results of
China's entry into the space race is to do the same to us.

--
------> Elisabeth Riba * http://www.osmond-riba.org/lis/ <------
"[She] is one of the secret masters of the world: a librarian.
They control information. Don't ever piss one off."
- Spider Robinson, "Callahan Touch"

Ron Henry

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Dec 4, 2003, 8:53:25 AM12/4/03
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"David T. Bilek" <dtb...@comcast.net> wrote in message
news:6mjtsv0o8tguops2l...@4ax.com...

> So it is apparently expected that Bush is going to announce a
> re-commitment to manned space exploration centered around a return to
> the moon, including a possible base there.

Yup. They got this cool bridge they'd like you to consider buying, too.

> If true, the 2004 elections have just gotten a hell of a lot tougher
> for me. I do not expect Howard Dean to endorse such a program.

Much as I love the idea of a re-commitment in general to space
exploration, the fact is we have some expensive messes to deal with on
the ground, for at least the next decade. I am increasingly doubtful we
can handle both agendas at the same time.

Besides, any Bushean commitment to space would likely be heavily
dominated by military interests. "Not _another_ Space Shuttle mission
devoted to taking ultra-detailed 'agricultural land-use imagery' of
sites in... China, North Korea, and Iran."

Personally, I'd rather see them fund a couple dozen unmanned probes to
the outer solar system than one stinking (probably literally after a few
months) moon base.

Ron Henry


Dorothy J Heydt

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Dec 4, 2003, 8:58:32 AM12/4/03
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In article <7f43a1-...@mail.sfchat.org>,
Nate Edel <arch...@sfchat.org> wrote:
>
>If I actually believed we'd see anything out of Shrub's talking a good game,
>perhaps it would give me one less reason to dislike him, but... frankly I
>doubt it.

Oh, it's entirely possible he really intends, and if re-elected
will push through, a return to the moon and a base thereon.

Trouble is, it will be a military base armed to the teeth.

Wonder if it would be worth it....

Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
djh...@kithrup.com

Nancy Lebovitz

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Dec 4, 2003, 9:26:58 AM12/4/03
to
In article <HpDIt...@kithrup.com>,

Dorothy J Heydt <djh...@kithrup.com> wrote:
>In article <7f43a1-...@mail.sfchat.org>,
>Nate Edel <arch...@sfchat.org> wrote:
>>
>>If I actually believed we'd see anything out of Shrub's talking a good game,
>>perhaps it would give me one less reason to dislike him, but... frankly I
>>doubt it.
>
>Oh, it's entirely possible he really intends, and if re-elected
>will push through, a return to the moon and a base thereon.
>
>Trouble is, it will be a military base armed to the teeth.

Not that this is necessarily relevent, but would a military base on
the moon make any sense at all?
--
Nancy Lebovitz na...@netaxs.com www.nancybuttons.com
Now, with bumper stickers

Using your turn signal is not "giving information to the enemy"

Joel Rosenberg

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Dec 4, 2003, 9:40:11 AM12/4/03
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na...@unix5.netaxs.com (Nancy Lebovitz) writes:

> In article <HpDIt...@kithrup.com>,
> Dorothy J Heydt <djh...@kithrup.com> wrote:
>>In article <7f43a1-...@mail.sfchat.org>,
>>Nate Edel <arch...@sfchat.org> wrote:
>>>
>>>If I actually believed we'd see anything out of Shrub's talking a good game,
>>>perhaps it would give me one less reason to dislike him, but... frankly I
>>>doubt it.
>>
>>Oh, it's entirely possible he really intends, and if re-elected
>>will push through, a return to the moon and a base thereon.
>>
>>Trouble is, it will be a military base armed to the teeth.
>
> Not that this is necessarily relevent, but would a military base on
> the moon make any sense at all?

Sure or hell, no -- depending on what technology you either have, or
postulate. A bunch of soldiers with "assault weapons" isn't relevant;
a magnetic launcher would be, for reasons obvious to almost every SF
reader.
--
------------------------------------------------------------
Joel Rosenberg
http://www.ellegon.com/homepage.phtml
(Reverse disclaimer: actually, everything I do or say is utterly
supported by Ellegon, Inc., my employer. Even when I'm wrong.)

Mark Evans

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Dec 4, 2003, 9:55:28 AM12/4/03
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"Nancy Lebovitz" <na...@unix5.netaxs.com> wrote in message
news:SuHzb.128$MY.1...@monger.newsread.com...

> In article <HpDIt...@kithrup.com>,
> Dorothy J Heydt <djh...@kithrup.com> wrote:
> >In article <7f43a1-...@mail.sfchat.org>,
> >Nate Edel <arch...@sfchat.org> wrote:
> >>
> >>If I actually believed we'd see anything out of Shrub's talking a good
game,
> >>perhaps it would give me one less reason to dislike him, but... frankly
I
> >>doubt it.
> >
> >Oh, it's entirely possible he really intends, and if re-elected
> >will push through, a return to the moon and a base thereon.
> >
> >Trouble is, it will be a military base armed to the teeth.
>
> Not that this is necessarily relevent, but would a military base on
> the moon make any sense at all?

It is policy. It does not have to make sense.

Mark Evans


Andrew Plotkin

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Dec 4, 2003, 10:07:40 AM12/4/03
to
Here, Joel Rosenberg <jo...@ellegon.com> wrote:
> na...@unix5.netaxs.com (Nancy Lebovitz) writes:
>
> > In article <HpDIt...@kithrup.com>,
> > Dorothy J Heydt <djh...@kithrup.com> wrote:
> >>In article <7f43a1-...@mail.sfchat.org>,
> >>Nate Edel <arch...@sfchat.org> wrote:
> >>>
> >>>If I actually believed we'd see anything out of Shrub's talking a good game,
> >>>perhaps it would give me one less reason to dislike him, but... frankly I
> >>>doubt it.
> >>
> >>Oh, it's entirely possible he really intends, and if re-elected
> >>will push through, a return to the moon and a base thereon.
> >>
> >>Trouble is, it will be a military base armed to the teeth.
> >
> > Not that this is necessarily relevent, but would a military base on
> > the moon make any sense at all?
>
> Sure or hell, no -- depending on what technology you either have, or
> postulate. A bunch of soldiers with "assault weapons" isn't relevant;
> a magnetic launcher would be, for reasons obvious to almost every SF
> reader.

I'm told that the magnetic launcher isn't nearly as practical as SF
readers (incl. me) would like to believe. At a minimum, building such
a thing would take decades of serious infrastructure investment -- and
we *already* have the capacity to blow shit up anywhere on Earth.

If Bush announces a renewed Lunar exploration program, I'll figure
it'll come out like ISS -- any actual hardware will be ten years late
and half the size of originally proposed "first step". And it'll never
get to a second step.

To be honest, I'd have assumed the same if Clinton or Gore had
announced a renewed Lunar exploration program.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
* Make your vote count. Get your vote counted.

Robert Sneddon

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Dec 4, 2003, 10:16:54 AM12/4/03
to
In article <m2vfow1...@joelr.ellegon.com>, Joel Rosenberg
<jo...@ellegon.com> writes

>na...@unix5.netaxs.com (Nancy Lebovitz) writes:
>
>> Not that this is necessarily relevent, but would a military base on
>> the moon make any sense at all?
>
>Sure or hell, no -- depending on what technology you either have, or
>postulate. A bunch of soldiers with "assault weapons" isn't relevant;
>a magnetic launcher would be, for reasons obvious to almost every SF
>reader.

http://www.villainsupply.com/superweapons.html

First on the list, a bargain at US$450,000,000,000. Some assembly
required. Batteries not included. If you can't afford the mass driver
there are other cheaper space-based military weapons on the same page.
--
Email me via nojay (at) nojay (dot) fsnet (dot) co (dot) uk
This address no longer accepts HTML posts.

Robert Sneddon

James Nicoll

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Dec 4, 2003, 10:57:29 AM12/4/03
to
In article <6mjtsv0o8tguops2l...@4ax.com>,

Bush pater also called for a glorious return to space, in the
Space Exploration Initiative. That was back in 1989, if I recall
correctly. Some lovely viewgraphs came out that.

There's a two parter online called _The Birth and Death of SEI_
that makes interesting reading. First published on sci.space.policy.

It's a real shame "Brilliant Condoms" (as LLNL's inflatable
spacecraft were labeled by NASA) never got developed. Of course it
was underpriced, running as much for the entire program as the lunar
crane would have run by itself.

These days, I'd seriously recommend SEI II be done in New Zealand,
because I think Weta could do the 21st century updates of the Von Braun
films more cheaply than any NorAm film.
--
It's amazing how the waterdrops form: a ball of water with an air bubble
inside it and inside of that one more bubble of water. It looks so beautiful
[...]. I realized something: the world is interesting for the man who can
be surprised. -Valentin Lebedev-

James Nicoll

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Dec 4, 2003, 11:01:19 AM12/4/03
to
In article <SuHzb.128$MY.1...@monger.newsread.com>,

Nancy Lebovitz <na...@unix5.netaxs.com> wrote:
>In article <HpDIt...@kithrup.com>,
>Dorothy J Heydt <djh...@kithrup.com> wrote:
>>In article <7f43a1-...@mail.sfchat.org>,
>>Nate Edel <arch...@sfchat.org> wrote:
>>>
>>>If I actually believed we'd see anything out of Shrub's talking a good game,
>>>perhaps it would give me one less reason to dislike him, but... frankly I
>>>doubt it.
>>
>>Oh, it's entirely possible he really intends, and if re-elected
>>will push through, a return to the moon and a base thereon.
>>
>>Trouble is, it will be a military base armed to the teeth.
>
>Not that this is necessarily relevent, but would a military base on
>the moon make any sense at all?

It would guarentee the critical Lunar vote.

It could make a very secure prison.

You could put nuclear weapons there that could not possibly
be used in a First Strike, because with conventional rockets it takes
three days to get to Earth and stealth is impossible.

James Nicoll

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Dec 4, 2003, 11:36:39 AM12/4/03
to
In article <m2vfow1...@joelr.ellegon.com>,

Joel Rosenberg <jo...@ellegon.com> wrote:
>
>Sure or hell, no -- depending on what technology you either have, or
>postulate. A bunch of soldiers with "assault weapons" isn't relevant;
>a magnetic launcher would be, for reasons obvious to almost every SF
>reader.

Is this a reference to Robert 'I didn't do the math on this one,
sorry' Heinlein's _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_? A fun book but he was
wildly wrong on the effectiveness of dropped Lunar rocks. His shot at
the mouth of the Thames, for example, would have only raised a 7 cm
wave at Margate. And although some of the work on impacts is post-MIAHM,
so RAH can be forgiven for being unaware of it, other parts of the models
are based on work by Glasstone, and since my copy of Glasstone is from 1961...

Lunar catapults as a weapon are utter rot and I have a large
number of, well, numbers to show this. Always happy to drag them out
again on demand.

James Nicoll

Dave Weingart

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Dec 4, 2003, 11:40:04 AM12/4/03
to
One day in Teletubbyland, jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) said:
> It could make a very secure prison.

It's probably cheaper just to kill people.

I don't particularly LIKE that as an option, but it's cheaper, barring
better lift tech.

--
73 de Dave Weingart KA2ESK Sixteen Tones (16th UK Filkcon)
mailto:phyd...@liii.com Feb 6-9,2004, Bromsgrove, England
http://www.weingart.net/ GoH: Chris Conway, Bill Roper
ICQ 57055207 http://www.weyrd.org/16tonesindex.htm

James Nicoll

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Dec 4, 2003, 11:49:21 AM12/4/03
to
In article <bqno14$nki$1...@eri0.s8.isp.nyc.eggn.net>,

Dave Weingart <phyd...@liii.com> wrote:
>One day in Teletubbyland, jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) said:
>> It could make a very secure prison.
>
>It's probably cheaper just to kill people.
>
>I don't particularly LIKE that as an option, but it's cheaper, barring
>better lift tech.

Actually, given appeals killing people is generally more
expensive than just storing them.

The Lunar prison has one serious drawback, though. Terrestrial
prisons are a way to built up local non-voting populations and since the
Moon isn't a voting district you lose this benefit. You also lose the
'piping money to an otherwise poor community' benefit. And it isn't like
Hess ever got out of Spandau, so very secure terrestrial prisons are
doable.

David G. Bell

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Dec 4, 2003, 9:23:19 AM12/4/03
to
On Thursday, in article <bqn810$69f$1...@pcls4.std.com>

Not a NASA-style, Apollo revival, certainly...

(Have I mentioned that I've been reading "Backroom Boys"?)

Let's just say that funding a few of the Jordin Kares of this world
needn't be expensive.

(Has Jordin tried Morris Dancing?)


--
David G. Bell -- SF Fan, Filker, and Punslinger.

"History shows that the Singularity started when Tim Berners-Lee
was bitten by a radioactive spider."

James Nicoll

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Dec 4, 2003, 1:52:57 PM12/4/03
to
In article <20031204.14...@zhochaka.demon.co.uk>,

David G. Bell <db...@zhochaka.org.uk> wrote:
>On Thursday, in article <bqn810$69f$1...@pcls4.std.com>
> m...@TheWorld.com "Martha H Adams" wrote:
>
>> I think Bush can talk a good story about "We're going back to the
>> Moon," but he can't do it. This can only be an empty election ploy: a
>> billboard picture propped up in front of empty urban decay.
>>
>> I think, he's just pushed us through a real Asimovian crisis. But
>> unlike in Asimov's Foundation stories, there is no requirement a good
>> outcome keeps the story going. Things have turned out wrong way and
>> first we have to recover from what happened. If we can, and I expect
>> that will take decades, well beyond my time. The choices were:
>>
>> 1) Lots of money to the military industrial complex and a war to burn
>> up the resulting production, useless for any constructive work;
>>
>> 2) Moderate policies and more money into exploration and settlement
>> into space.
>>
>> There's just not enough money at hand for both. Actually, not enough
>> for even the one he chose, as we see him mortgaging the well being of
>> our children and of our elders, to pay for his intended military
>> programs and exploits. So how can we as a country also mount a space
>> program?
>>
>> Simple. Bush can talk about it, he can project a fireworks of words
>> about proposed slick and shiny programs. But as a country, *we can't
>> do that.* The choice is already made.
>
>Not a NASA-style, Apollo revival, certainly...
>
As long as NASA exists in its present form, it has little to
gain from other people's space programs. This is why in my Appleseed
timeline [1], the guy Bush puts in charge of reforming NASA is William
Proxmire.

James Nicoll

1: Ronald Reagan reads JEPs "The Big Rain" and believes it without
reservation. Wacky hijinks ensue.
--
"The Union Nationale has brought [Quebec] to the edge of an abyss.
With Social Credit you will take one step forward."

Camil Samson

Bill Higgins

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Dec 4, 2003, 2:08:05 PM12/4/03
to
On Thu, 4 Dec 2003, James Nicoll wrote:

> In article <6mjtsv0o8tguops2l...@4ax.com>,
> David T. Bilek <dtb...@comcast.net> wrote:
> >So it is apparently expected that Bush is going to announce a
> >re-commitment to manned space exploration centered around a return to
> >the moon, including a possible base there.

[...]


> There's a two parter online called _The Birth and Death of SEI_
> that makes interesting reading. First published on sci.space.policy.

Part 1: <http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=3iddd3%242vt%40gwis2.circ.gwu.edu&output=gplain>
Part 2: <http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=3iddk2%2458p%40gwis2.circ.gwu.edu&output=gplain>

It's an article for *Spaceflight* magazine by historian and policy analyst
Dwayne Allen Day.

> These days, I'd seriously recommend SEI II be done in New Zealand,
> because I think Weta could do the 21st century updates of the Von Braun
> films more cheaply than any NorAm film.

I presume James is aware of David Sander, in Australia, who is doing 21st
Century updates of the von Braun films (but not quite in the sense James
means) in his "Man Conquers Space" project. It answers the question, "What
would a History Channel documentary about the first Moon and Mars landings
look like, in an alternate history where von Braun's spacecraft of the
Fifties actually got built?"

See <http://www.users.bigpond.net.au/surfacesrendered/MCSEnter.html>, and
download the trailer if you can...

--
Bill Higgins | "One thousand aliens sat in little plastic bags
Fermilab | in a dusty room at the Vatican.
| They'd come to Earth to talk to me.
Internet: | But when they spoke, it was not to
hig...@fnal.gov | preach answers, but to raise questions."
| --Guy Consolmagno, S.J., *Brother Astronomer*

James Nicoll

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Dec 4, 2003, 2:11:36 PM12/4/03
to
In article <Pine.SGI.4.58.031...@fsgi01.fnal.gov>,

Bill Higgins <hig...@fnal.gov> wrote:
>On Thu, 4 Dec 2003, James Nicoll wrote:
>
>> These days, I'd seriously recommend SEI II be done in New Zealand,
>> because I think Weta could do the 21st century updates of the Von Braun
>> films more cheaply than any NorAm film.
>
>I presume James is aware of David Sander, in Australia, who is doing 21st
>Century updates of the von Braun films (but not quite in the sense James
>means) in his "Man Conquers Space" project. It answers the question, "What
>would a History Channel documentary about the first Moon and Mars landings
>look like, in an alternate history where von Braun's spacecraft of the
>Fifties actually got built?"

!

!!!

!!!!!!!

No. I wasn't.

Matt Austern

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Dec 4, 2003, 2:37:27 PM12/4/03
to
jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) writes:

> In article <m2vfow1...@joelr.ellegon.com>,
> Joel Rosenberg <jo...@ellegon.com> wrote:
> >
> >Sure or hell, no -- depending on what technology you either have, or
> >postulate. A bunch of soldiers with "assault weapons" isn't relevant;
> >a magnetic launcher would be, for reasons obvious to almost every SF
> >reader.
>
> Is this a reference to Robert 'I didn't do the math on this one,
> sorry' Heinlein's _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_? A fun book but he was
> wildly wrong on the effectiveness of dropped Lunar rocks. His shot at
> the mouth of the Thames, for example, would have only raised a 7 cm
> wave at Margate. And although some of the work on impacts is post-MIAHM,
> so RAH can be forgiven for being unaware of it, other parts of the models
> are based on work by Glasstone, and since my copy of Glasstone is from 1961...
>
> Lunar catapults as a weapon are utter rot and I have a large
> number of, well, numbers to show this. Always happy to drag them out
> again on demand.

I'm curious! I'd be surprised if anyone here weren't, actually.

Alan Winston - SSRL Admin Cmptg Mgr

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Dec 4, 2003, 3:06:32 PM12/4/03
to
In article <20031204.14...@zhochaka.demon.co.uk>, db...@zhochaka.demon.co.uk ("David G. Bell") writes:
>
>Not a NASA-style, Apollo revival, certainly...
>
>(Have I mentioned that I've been reading "Backroom Boys"?)
>
>Let's just say that funding a few of the Jordin Kares of this world
>needn't be expensive.
>
>(Has Jordin tried Morris Dancing?)

Referring to Roy Dommett, I imagine.

There's, of course, been a little discussion of this book on the Morris Dancing
Discussion List.

A couple-five years ago we had Roy Dommett out here to the SF Bay Area to do
a weekend workshop on morris traditions, etc. I couldn't go. Bummer.

(I guess I'm just rambling - no major point here.)

-- Alan

--
===============================================================================
Alan Winston --- WIN...@SSRL.SLAC.STANFORD.EDU
Disclaimer: I speak only for myself, not SLAC or SSRL Phone: 650/926-3056
Paper mail to: SSRL -- SLAC BIN 99, 2575 Sand Hill Rd, Menlo Park CA 94025
===============================================================================

Nancy Lebovitz

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Dec 4, 2003, 3:20:32 PM12/4/03
to
In article <m2vfow1...@joelr.ellegon.com>,
Joel Rosenberg <jo...@ellegon.com> wrote:
>na...@unix5.netaxs.com (Nancy Lebovitz) writes:
>
>> In article <HpDIt...@kithrup.com>,
>> Dorothy J Heydt <djh...@kithrup.com> wrote:
>>>In article <7f43a1-...@mail.sfchat.org>,
>>>Nate Edel <arch...@sfchat.org> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>If I actually believed we'd see anything out of Shrub's talking a good game,
>>>>perhaps it would give me one less reason to dislike him, but... frankly I
>>>>doubt it.
>>>
>>>Oh, it's entirely possible he really intends, and if re-elected
>>>will push through, a return to the moon and a base thereon.
>>>
>>>Trouble is, it will be a military base armed to the teeth.
>>
>> Not that this is necessarily relevent, but would a military base on
>> the moon make any sense at all?
>
>Sure or hell, no -- depending on what technology you either have, or
>postulate. A bunch of soldiers with "assault weapons" isn't relevant;
>a magnetic launcher would be, for reasons obvious to almost every SF
>reader.

I'm wondering what such a base would cost and what it would take to
protect it.

Bill Higgins

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 4:31:20 PM12/4/03
to
On Thu, 4 Dec 2003, Nancy Lebovitz wrote:

> In article <m2vfow1...@joelr.ellegon.com>,
> Joel Rosenberg <jo...@ellegon.com> wrote:
> >na...@unix5.netaxs.com (Nancy Lebovitz) writes:
> >> Not that this is necessarily relevent, but would a military base on
> >> the moon make any sense at all?
> >
> >Sure or hell, no -- depending on what technology you either have, or
> >postulate. A bunch of soldiers with "assault weapons" isn't relevant;
> >a magnetic launcher would be, for reasons obvious to almost every SF
> >reader.
>
> I'm wondering what such a base would cost and what it would take to
> protect it.

Forget it. It would cost the Moon.

--
Bill Higgins | "Does anyone have figures for
Fermilab | the inductance of a pickle?"
Internet: | --Bernard Peek
hig...@fnal.gov | (b...@shrdlu.com)

James Nicoll

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Dec 4, 2003, 5:59:33 PM12/4/03
to
In article <m23cc02...@Matt-Austerns-Computer.local>,


OK.

Joel didn't say he meant lunar catapults as weapons
so this has nothing to do with what he said.

Why I Don't Think Lunar Catapults Will Be Useful Weapons
Against Targets on Earth

Destructive Potential of Lunar Rocks

If the catapults were able to fire stuff at velocities comparable
to Earth's escape velocity, the lag time issues would favour Terrestrial
catapults (mounted on moving vehicles, these might be called 'MBT cannons').
This means the energy content of the incoming rocks is something like
6x10^7 J/kg. For comparison, fission peace enhancement devices are good for
about 9x10^12 J/kg, ims, and fusion PED for 8x10^14 J/kg. It still compares
well to TNT's 4.6x10^6 J/kg but note we are not talking the five to seven
orders of magnitude between atomic and chemical but one order of magnitude.

If some arcane method could be found to focus the energy in a
chemical explosive into a smaller massed projectile, it seems possible
terrestrial chemically driven projectiles could compete with Lunar
ones in terms of EK/kg or alternatively one might use 15x as many
shots.

Cratering

Crater diameter scales roughly according to the cube root of
the delta energy. Barringer is ~1 km across and was formed by a 15 MT
(~6x10^16J) event. Diamter/depth ~6 is not a bad rule of thumb.

Say our lunar impactor is a 2 kt event. The crater would be
1 km x [8.4x10^12 J/6x10^16 J]^1/3 or ~50 m diamter x 8 m deep.

Cheyenne is destroyed in TMISHM by the impact of many rocks
from the Moon. As near as I can figure, Cheyenne Mountain's peak is
about 1000 meters higher than the surrounding terrain, so this would
have taken about 125 shots. If the Lunar Capapult is able to accelerate
payloads at 10g (and I don't recall the actual numbers: that one is
made up), it can fire one package every half minute or so [SEE ENERGY],
so this might be about an hour's work.

Note: a 2 kt device in this case is also a 140 tonne ingot,
because you are getting atomic weapon yields out of something with
an energy density only an order of magnitude better than chemical.
An iron package would be about 18 m^3 (a 3.2 m diameter sphere). An
osmium one would be but 6.2 m^3 (a 2.3 m diameter sphere).

NASA tracks orbital debris as small as 10 cm, and current
radar technology (which is to say, of an era earier than the Lunar
Catapult) can track items as small as 3 mm, albeit below 600 km
altitude at present.

Incoming ingots are therefore likely to be noticed fairly early.


Wave formation:

Stolen without attribution from _Hazards Due to Comets & Asteroids_

Wave height, impact in shallow water:

h = 1450 m [d/r] [y/gigatons]^1/4

h = wave height
d = water depth
r = range to impact
y = yield


ditto, impact in deep water:

h = 6.5 m [y/gigaton]^0.54 [1000km/r]


Wave run in:

Xmax ~ 1.0 km [h/10 meters]^4/3

And this really is a *very* rough rule of thumb. Consider
what happens to a 10 meter wave hitting the cliffs of Dover vs
Bangladesh (with 17 million people roughly 1 meter above high
tide, IIRC).

RAH is unfortunately specific about the UK offshore impacts,
which is what led to the conclusion that the wave height at Margate
was 7 cm. Even more unfortunately, _The Effects of Nuclear Weapons_
would led one estimate this and it was available when TMIAHM was
written.

Small ingots make tiny waves. Large ingots are, well, large
and attract early detection and countermeasures.


Energy:

One of the attractive things about Lunar catapults is
that they led you leverage your input: most of the Ek comes
from falling 380,000 km rather than directly from the capapult
[After all, if the catapult could fire things at 11/km, you
could just put it on the Earth and lob objects at semiorbital
velocities around the planet]. You do have to get the objects
off the Moon, though.

Say this is an investment of 2.5 km/s. Each ingot masses
140,000 kg, so the Ek is 4x10^11 Joules. At ten gees, that's 25
seconds, or a power output of 16 gigawatts. This catapult needs
Pickering sized nuclear reactor or its equivelent to power it.

This raises more stealth issues. If 90% of the power goes into
Ek and 10% into heat, this is generating about 1.8 GW of heat for
half a minute. This is a serious problem because the heat flare lets
the targets know a shot has been fired. It also lets them know
where the radiators are, inviting attacks on them.

This is another reason why steathy attacks are hard with the
catapult. The reason I mention stealth is because of


Time to Target:

A low energy orbit to Earth takes 3 - 5 days (Or even longer,
for other solutions). A Lunar Bombard begins by announcing each launch
with a flare of heat, then a large trackable object slowly orbits to
Earth, where it experiences a lithobraking phase at least 72 hours
later.

By comparison, a 1 km/s projectile fired from 100 km away
arrives in about 2 minutes (Hastily checks to make sure 100 km is
within the range of a 1 km/s ballistic object).

A Standard Wheelchair Bound Grandmother [SWBG] is assumed to
be able to procede over paved road at 2 km/hr and 100 m/hr on broken
ground. In 72 hours, assuming 8 hours of rest in every 24, a SWBG
can procede 96 km on paved road and 4.8 km in rough terrain. A SWBG
could therefore evade most of the effects of a 2 kt groundburst.

By comparison, a SWBG could only move 70 meters on paved ground
(the best case scenario), if the 2 kt event package was sent at 1 km/s
from a source 100 km away. 70 m is within the fireball of a 2 kt event.
Most SWBGs will not survive being in a fireball.

Lunar bombards are therefore only good against static targets.
And we already have weapons just as effective on static targets that
don't take half a week to arrive. Therefore Lunar bombards are not
competitive for targets on Earth with weapons we already have.

Thomas Womack

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 6:42:10 PM12/4/03
to
In article <bqoe8l$q3e$1...@panix3.panix.com>,
James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> wrote:

> Small ingots make tiny waves. Large ingots are, well, large
>and attract early detection and countermeasures.

What are the relevant countermeasures? Evacuating the target
region, obviously, and sending shock-troops to take out the
catapult, of course, but I'm not quite sure what you can do
about the ingot. Unless you plan ahead and have nuclear
warheads on launchers capable of intercepting and vapourising
the ingot before it gets anywhere near the ground (might
as well send one to the catapult too ...)

And detonating nuclear weapons in high Earth orbit has famously
unfortunate effects on everything else up there.

Tom

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 6:59:50 PM12/4/03
to
In article <bqoe8l$q3e$1...@panix3.panix.com>,
James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> wrote:

> Crater diameter scales roughly according to the cube root of
>the delta energy. Barringer is ~1 km across and was formed by a 15 MT
>(~6x10^16J) event. Diamter/depth ~6 is not a bad rule of thumb.
>
> Say our lunar impactor is a 2 kt event. The crater would be
>1 km x [8.4x10^12 J/6x10^16 J]^1/3 or ~50 m diamter x 8 m deep.
>
> Cheyenne is destroyed in TMISHM by the impact of many rocks
>from the Moon. As near as I can figure, Cheyenne Mountain's peak is
>about 1000 meters higher than the surrounding terrain, so this would
>have taken about 125 shots. If the Lunar Capapult is able to accelerate
>payloads at 10g (and I don't recall the actual numbers: that one is
>made up), it can fire one package every half minute or so [SEE ENERGY],
>so this might be about an hour's work.

This is wildly incorrect.

I should have used the crater volume (about 5300 m^3 for that shape
ding) and the volume of the mountain. Call it a cone of r = 1000 m
and h = 1000 m, for a volume of about 10^9 m^3. It would therefore
take very roughly 200,000 shots or at least 67+ days.

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 7:01:29 PM12/4/03
to
In article <w4j*ug...@news.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,

Thomas Womack <two...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
>In article <bqoe8l$q3e$1...@panix3.panix.com>,
>James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> wrote:
>
>> Small ingots make tiny waves. Large ingots are, well, large
>>and attract early detection and countermeasures.
>
>What are the relevant countermeasures? Evacuating the target
>region, obviously, and sending shock-troops to take out the
>catapult, of course, but I'm not quite sure what you can do
>about the ingot. Unless you plan ahead and have nuclear
>warheads on launchers capable of intercepting and vapourising
>the ingot before it gets anywhere near the ground (might
>as well send one to the catapult too ...)

One method proposed for asteroids is to hit the incoming object
with another, smaller one. The impactor vapourizes and the jet of
material pushes the ingot off course.

Joel Rosenberg

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 7:11:14 PM12/4/03
to
Thomas Womack <two...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> writes:

Depends how quickly you can get to it. Apply a preposterously tiny
delta-vee early, and it misses the planet entirely. If you're talking
about hitting it late, you've got to smash it into little bits that
will be relatively harmless.

As to how large the projectile has to be, not very. Some of the
numbers I've seen for Thor use pieces of metal that are basically the
size of a crowbar. Utterly useless for raising a tsunami to wipe out
a city, but rather more powerful than a Hellfire; as is usual for such
things, it's more what you do with it than how large it is.

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 7:24:32 PM12/4/03
to
In article <m2he0g1...@joelr.ellegon.com>,

Joel Rosenberg <jo...@ellegon.com> wrote:
>Thomas Womack <two...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> writes:
>
>> In article <bqoe8l$q3e$1...@panix3.panix.com>,
>> James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> wrote:
>>
>>> Small ingots make tiny waves. Large ingots are, well, large
>>>and attract early detection and countermeasures.
>>
>> What are the relevant countermeasures? Evacuating the target
>> region, obviously, and sending shock-troops to take out the
>> catapult, of course, but I'm not quite sure what you can do
>> about the ingot. Unless you plan ahead and have nuclear
>> warheads on launchers capable of intercepting and vapourising
>> the ingot before it gets anywhere near the ground (might
>> as well send one to the catapult too ...)
>>
>> And detonating nuclear weapons in high Earth orbit has famously
>> unfortunate effects on everything else up there.
>>
>> Tom
>
>Depends how quickly you can get to it. Apply a preposterously tiny
>delta-vee early, and it misses the planet entirely. If you're talking
>about hitting it late, you've got to smash it into little bits that
>will be relatively harmless.

Or make it unaerodynamic enough to come apart on the way
down, as most small objects do at those speeds. Or divert it a little
and let it hit the Earth, which has only 50 people per km^2 on
average.

>As to how large the projectile has to be, not very. Some of the
>numbers I've seen for Thor use pieces of metal that are basically the
>size of a crowbar. Utterly useless for raising a tsunami to wipe out
>a city, but rather more powerful than a Hellfire; as is usual for such
>things, it's more what you do with it than how large it is.

Thor, only from the Moon? So very difficult to aim (plasma
sheath) and even slower to arrive? At least the old Thor only gave
the SWBG 20 minutes to flee (Seven football fields on paved road).

On the other hand, MoonThor doesn't raise the question 'If
I have a system that can orbit and deorbit the crowbar, why don't
I just use all the delta vee available by firing the thing directly
at the target instead of wasting some heading to orbit and then back
down?'

And you don't have worry about the limited footprint of LEO
crowbars and the destabilizing effect of every nation in the footprint
needing to tell if

1: The crowbars are deorbiting, once every 90 minutes for each crowbar.

2: The crowbars are actually nukes re-entering.

3: Whether the recent round of budget cuts due to the Peace Dividend Mk II
means that unplanned deorbits will become more common.

Karl Johanson

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 8:23:43 PM12/4/03
to
"Nancy Lebovitz" <na...@unix5.netaxs.com> wrote in message news:SuHzb.128

> Not that this is necessarily relevent, but would a military base on


> the moon make any sense at all?

Of course it would. For example, if the army had a base on the moon they
could look at the navy & marines & airforce and say, 'neener neener, we have
a base on the moon & you don't! Blah! Pssssststsststhhh! So there Nyaaaa!'

Karl johanson

Kip Williams

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 8:44:20 PM12/4/03
to
Nancy Lebovitz wrote:
> In article <HpDIt...@kithrup.com>,
> Dorothy J Heydt <djh...@kithrup.com> wrote:
>>In article <7f43a1-...@mail.sfchat.org>,
>>Nate Edel <arch...@sfchat.org> wrote:
>>
>>>If I actually believed we'd see anything out of Shrub's talking a good game,
>>>perhaps it would give me one less reason to dislike him, but... frankly I
>>>doubt it.
>>
>>Oh, it's entirely possible he really intends, and if re-elected
>>will push through, a return to the moon and a base thereon.
>>
>>Trouble is, it will be a military base armed to the teeth.
>
> Not that this is necessarily relevent, but would a military base on
> the moon make any sense at all?

Gotta protect against them godless Venusians.

--
--Kip (Williams) ...at members.cox.net/kipw
"The politics of failure has failed! And I say we must move forward,
not backward. Upward, not forward. And always twirling, twirling,
twirling toward freedom!" --Kodos

Kip Williams

unread,
Dec 4, 2003, 8:48:55 PM12/4/03
to

"Now we can fight the real enemy!"
"The navy!"

--
--Kip (Williams) ...at members.cox.net/kipw

"I thought we were the Judean Popular Front..."

Tony von Krag

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 1:25:16 AM12/5/03
to
In article <iv45a1-...@mail.sfchat.org>,
arch...@sfchat.org (Nate Edel) wrote:

> Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:
> > I'm told that the magnetic launcher isn't nearly as practical as SF
> > readers (incl. me) would like to believe. At a minimum, building such
> > a thing would take decades of serious infrastructure investment -- and
> > we *already* have the capacity to blow shit up anywhere on Earth.
>

> But can we blow _that much_ stuff up, without incurring radioactive fallout?
> Although I wonder what the effects of nonradioactive fallout from a large
> scale meteorite-like weapon would be?

We experence this every time a volcano erupts I'd think or maybe a large
forest fire.

tony

--
Chef Anthony von Krag ACF retired
Have spices & cast iron cookware, will travel
User of sharp knives, Washer of hands and cutting boards
You want Me!!! To cook *THAT* well done?

Thomas Womack

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 3:27:23 AM12/5/03
to
In article <m2he0g1...@joelr.ellegon.com>,

Joel Rosenberg <jo...@ellegon.com> wrote:
>Thomas Womack <two...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> writes:
>
>> In article <bqoe8l$q3e$1...@panix3.panix.com>,
>> James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> wrote:
>>
>>> Small ingots make tiny waves. Large ingots are, well, large
>>>and attract early detection and countermeasures.
>>
>> What are the relevant countermeasures? Evacuating the target
>> region, obviously, and sending shock-troops to take out the
>> catapult, of course, but I'm not quite sure what you can do
>> about the ingot. Unless you plan ahead and have nuclear
>> warheads on launchers capable of intercepting and vapourising
>> the ingot before it gets anywhere near the ground (might
>> as well send one to the catapult too ...)
>>
>> And detonating nuclear weapons in high Earth orbit has famously
>> unfortunate effects on everything else up there.
>>
>> Tom
>
>Depends how quickly you can get to it. Apply a preposterously tiny
>delta-vee early, and it misses the planet entirely. If you're talking
>about hitting it late, you've got to smash it into little bits that
>will be relatively harmless.

Ah, I entirely missed the critical point here.

It's not a matter of delta-vee, it's a matter of economics; the
situation is exactly the same as the cruise-missile versus tent or
second-hand Scud held together with baling wire versus gold-plated
Patriot missile issues that the US has seen over the last decade.

The counter-measure to each rock is a non-trivial piece of hardware
launched on something the scale of a Proton, from a launch-pad which
is quite a substantial capital investment. And, assuming you do
the rational thing and launch a massive nuclear strike when the
launch of the first rock is confirmed [1], the 72 hours work the other
way.

By the time the hydrogen bombs arrive, there are (if I get your
calculations right) about three hundred rocks in the pipeline;
there aren't three hundred launchpads, and "salvo launch" to GEO,
whilst it's been proposed, seems to be "you can use the same
launchpad twice in a month". You're taking damage equal to a few
hundred Bhopals or WTCs.

Or, I suppose, a one-off expenditure of $50 billion to build enough
launch pads and interceptors to take out the whole pipeline at once,
with a similar expenditure every time the Lunies build a power
station ... SDI again, but with the US playing the role of the USSR.

[1] I'm sounding like the demented cross between Curtis LeMay and
von Neumann. If someone can convince me that there's a method
short of total annihilation, I'd appreciate it.

Tom

Thomas Womack

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 3:32:51 AM12/5/03
to
In article <bqoj80$4o9$1...@panix3.panix.com>,
James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> wrote:

> On the other hand, MoonThor doesn't raise the question 'If
>I have a system that can orbit and deorbit the crowbar, why don't
>I just use all the delta vee available by firing the thing directly
>at the target instead of wasting some heading to orbit and then back
>down?'

That's not a very good question, given that the Titan 4 itself is very
far from being a credible anti-tank weapon ... putting ten tons into
LEO is fairly routine, accelerating 1kg to 10km/s ten thousand times
within ten kilometres of the Fulda Gap may be harder.

[though one could somehow capture the kinetic energy of a few
kilograms of suitably gentle propellant in, perhaps an
aerodynamically-shaped piece of very dense material ... definitely
some research potential there]

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 10:47:17 AM12/5/03
to
In article <dZc*Ab...@news.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,

Except that this is occuring in a regime where it's practical
to build a 31+ km track and the associated radiators plus the nuclear
generator (Or solar, at about 5 watts per kilogram for photovoltaics,
IIRC) on the Moon. So they have cheap access to space or this wouldn't
be happening.

One thing you could do is build a similar, more powerful
accelerator on Earth. It needs a lot more power (20x/kg) but can
draw on the planetary grid. It's also huge, more than 600 km long.

>Or, I suppose, a one-off expenditure of $50 billion to build enough
>launch pads and interceptors to take out the whole pipeline at once,
>with a similar expenditure every time the Lunies build a power
>station ... SDI again, but with the US playing the role of the USSR.

These people have cheap access to space, or the lunar device
would never have been built in the first place.

>[1] I'm sounding like the demented cross between Curtis LeMay and
>von Neumann. If someone can convince me that there's a method
>short of total annihilation, I'd appreciate it.

Hmmm. Shades of the railway destruction thread on another group.
The accelerator might be designed so that defective units could be swapped
in and out fast (If it's originally a commercial unit, I'd definitely want
to minimize down time). Go for the power source or the radiators.

Bill Higgins

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 1:30:05 PM12/5/03
to
On Fri, 5 Dec 2003, James Nicoll wrote:

> In article <dZc*Ab...@news.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,
> Thomas Womack <two...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
> >
> >The counter-measure to each rock is a non-trivial piece of hardware
> >launched on something the scale of a Proton, from a launch-pad which
> >is quite a substantial capital investment.

[...]


> >By the time the hydrogen bombs arrive, there are (if I get your
> >calculations right) about three hundred rocks in the pipeline;
> >there aren't three hundred launchpads, and "salvo launch" to GEO,
> >whilst it's been proposed, seems to be "you can use the same
> >launchpad twice in a month". You're taking damage equal to a few
> >hundred Bhopals or WTCs.
>
> Except that this is occuring in a regime where it's practical
> to build a 31+ km track and the associated radiators plus the nuclear
> generator (Or solar, at about 5 watts per kilogram for photovoltaics,
> IIRC) on the Moon. So they have cheap access to space or this wouldn't
> be happening.

It occurs to me that in *The Moon is a Harsh Mistress* we have a situation
like September 11th: a means of transportation, and attendant
infrastructure, used for civilian purposes, which the Loonies convert into a
weapon.

The Earth military forces don't seem to have countermeasures prepared, and
seem not to have considered the electromagnetic catapult as a possible
weapon. (Though we can't infer very much about their thinking from the
novel.)

--
"Whew! That looks like the combined | Bill Higgins
mince-pie nightmares of a whole flock of | Fermilab
linotype operators, pipe-organists, |
and hard-boiled radio hams!" |
--E.E. "Doc" Smith, probably describing | Internet:
Fermilab's Colliding Detector Facility | hig...@fnal.gov

Bill Higgins

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 2:02:48 PM12/5/03
to
On Thu, 4 Dec 2003, James Nicoll wrote:

> In article <Pine.SGI.4.58.031...@fsgi01.fnal.gov>,
> Bill Higgins <hig...@fnal.gov> wrote:
> >I presume James is aware of David Sander, in Australia, who is doing 21st
> >Century updates of the von Braun films (but not quite in the sense James
> >means) in his "Man Conquers Space" project. It answers the question, "What
> >would a History Channel documentary about the first Moon and Mars landings
> >look like, in an alternate history where von Braun's spacecraft of the
> >Fifties actually got built?"
>
> !
>
> !!!
>
> !!!!!!!
>
> No. I wasn't.

Oh. I only put it that way because you are the kind of guy who is
usually hip to this sort of thing.

Glad to have introduced you to a really cool idea. Have fun looking through
David Sander's site, and be sure to watch the trailer if you have the
bandwidth. (As I mentioned in the snipped portion, it's
<http://www.users.bigpond.net.au/surfacesrendered/MCSHomepage.html>.) The
project has raised a lot of enthusiasm on sci.space.history, not
surprisingly. I'm not sure when the finished program will be released,
but it's intended as a 1-hour TV documentary.

I have to give David extra points for the name of his production company:
Surfaces Rendered.

Also, the old *Disneyland* episodes about space, to which you alluded, have
just been released on DVD. I mentioned this here on 10 October, but nobody
seemed to care. See
<http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=Pine.SGI.4.58.0310102217190.1721165%40fsgi01.fnal.gov&output=gplain>
and <http://disneyvideos.disney.go.com/moviefinder/products/3174903.html>.

Wouldn't mind finding it under the Christmas tree, to watch while I'm
waiting for *Man Conquers Space* to come out.

--
She was only a | Bill Higgins
rocket scientist's daughter, | Fermilab
but she left the boys | Internet:
exhausted behind her. | hig...@fnal.gov


Kate Gladstone

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 2:39:36 PM12/5/03
to
David notes that many expect ...

> ... Bush ... to announce a


> re-commitment to manned space exploration centered around a return to
> the moon, including a possible base there.

According to this CNN report -

http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/space/12/04/us.moon/index.html -

plans also include /1/ determining costs/benefits for *permanent* Lunar
settlement & /2/ considering proposals for *manned* Mars missions.

--
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Kate Gladstone - Handwriting Repair - ka...@global2000.net
http://www.global2000.net/handwritingrepair
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 2:45:11 PM12/5/03
to

Ah. I don't read sci.space.history on a reliable basis, nor
ss.policy (which I mainly value as a distraction for an editor of
a media-tie in line, who used to post in rasfw) on account of how
deadly repetitive they can be.

>Also, the old *Disneyland* episodes about space, to which you alluded, have
>just been released on DVD. I mentioned this here on 10 October, but nobody
>seemed to care. See
><http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=Pine.SGI.4.58.0310102217190.1721165%40fsgi01.fnal.gov&output=gplain>
>and <http://disneyvideos.disney.go.com/moviefinder/products/3174903.html>.
>

Cool. Wonder if my local video store will get it?

Vicki Rosenzweig

unread,
Dec 5, 2003, 6:39:53 PM12/5/03
to
Quoth jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) on 4 Dec 2003 17:59:33 -0500:

If I recall correctly, in the book the Terrans have some anti-missile
capacity, but no anti-asteroid/comet capacity, and the attempts they
make shooting down the lunar ingots fail because the anti-missiles
are programmed to estimate the distance of mostly-metal missiles,
not of what are essentially lumps of rock.

That's a good point, and I'm not convinced that the concealment
technique described, briefly, in the book would be sufficient.


>
> This is another reason why steathy attacks are hard with the
>catapult. The reason I mention stealth is because of
>
>
> Time to Target:
>
> A low energy orbit to Earth takes 3 - 5 days (Or even longer,
>for other solutions). A Lunar Bombard begins by announcing each launch
>with a flare of heat, then a large trackable object slowly orbits to
>Earth, where it experiences a lithobraking phase at least 72 hours
>later.
>
> By comparison, a 1 km/s projectile fired from 100 km away
>arrives in about 2 minutes (Hastily checks to make sure 100 km is
>within the range of a 1 km/s ballistic object).
>
> A Standard Wheelchair Bound Grandmother [SWBG] is assumed to
>be able to procede over paved road at 2 km/hr and 100 m/hr on broken
>ground. In 72 hours, assuming 8 hours of rest in every 24, a SWBG
>can procede 96 km on paved road and 4.8 km in rough terrain. A SWBG
>could therefore evade most of the effects of a 2 kt groundburst.

The hard part is a combination of (a) how do you convince people to
evacuate--the book asserts (perhaps purely because it serves the plot)
that the first impacts had high casualty rates because at least some of
those warned assumed it couldn't be a problem and stayed put and
(b) the problem of evacuating densely-populated urban areas,
especially places like New York: your SWBG, or even your Standard
Temporarily Able-Bodied Office Worker, may do okay on broken
ground, but is going to have trouble crossing Long Island Sound or
the Hudson River without using the existing bridges, tunnels, and
ferry service. On the other tentacle, several hundred thousand people
were evacuated from Lower Manhattan by boat two years ago, with
no pre-planning.

> Lunar bombards are therefore only good against static targets.
>And we already have weapons just as effective on static targets that
>don't take half a week to arrive. Therefore Lunar bombards are not
>competitive for targets on Earth with weapons we already have.

Granted. But if you don't have any weapons except lots of rocks and
a launch catapult, you might decide to try throwing rocks.
--
Vicki Rosenzweig | v...@redbird.org
r.a.sf.f faq at http://www.redbird.org/rassef-faq.html

raymond larsson

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Dec 5, 2003, 7:42:15 PM12/5/03
to
In article <bqoj80$4o9$1...@panix3.panix.com>, James Nicoll says...
[re: THOR]

> 3: Whether the recent round of budget cuts due to the Peace Dividend Mk II
> means that unplanned deorbits will become more common.

or 4: Whether the recent round of budget cuts due to the Peace Dividend
Mk II means that planned deorbits will become more common.

(obviously not a best case scenario)

Mark Jones

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Dec 5, 2003, 8:05:45 PM12/5/03
to
Vicki Rosenzweig wrote:

> If I recall correctly, in the book the Terrans have some anti-missile
> capacity, but no anti-asteroid/comet capacity, and the attempts they
> make shooting down the lunar ingots fail because the anti-missiles
> are programmed to estimate the distance of mostly-metal missiles,
> not of what are essentially lumps of rock.

Not just mostly-metal missiles, but mostly-metal missile containing
complex warheads which have to function correctly in order to go Bang!
Whereas the lumps of rock use only their mass and velocity to cause
damage when they impact. Enough damage to destroy a missle (i.e.,
render it incapable of exploding) wouldn't be nearly enough to damage
something big and massive.


Manny Olds

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Dec 5, 2003, 8:21:41 PM12/5/03
to
James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> wrote:

> Lunar bombards are therefore only good against static targets.
> And we already have weapons just as effective on static targets that
> don't take half a week to arrive. Therefore Lunar bombards are not
> competitive for targets on Earth with weapons we already have.

I think that the point is TMIAHM is not that Lunar Bombards are your
first-choice weapons, but that you can use them if you already have the
launchers handy and nothing else to shoot with.

--
Manny Olds (old...@pobox.com) of Riverdale Park, Maryland, USA

"Reporters perform lossy compression on data." -- Jonathan W Hendry

Jay E. Morris

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Dec 5, 2003, 9:34:30 PM12/5/03
to
In message <20031204.14...@zhochaka.demon.co.uk>,
db...@zhochaka.demon.co.uk ("David G. Bell") got all excited and spit out::
......

>
> (Has Jordin tried Morris Dancing?)
>
Not with me.
--
Jay E. Morris - mailto:wi...@epsilon3.comremovethiscrap
Posted with Ink Spot (for Windows CE) from DejaVu Software, Inc.
Usenet wherever you are - http://www.dejavusoftware.com/

David Dyer-Bennet

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Dec 6, 2003, 1:35:02 AM12/6/03
to
Vicki Rosenzweig <v...@redbird.org> writes:

> Quoth jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) on 4 Dec 2003 17:59:33 -0500:

> > NASA tracks orbital debris as small as 10 cm, and current

> >radar technology (which is to say, of an era earier than the Lunar
> >Catapult) can track items as small as 3 mm, albeit below 600 km
> >altitude at present.
> >
> > Incoming ingots are therefore likely to be noticed fairly early.
>
> If I recall correctly, in the book the Terrans have some anti-missile
> capacity, but no anti-asteroid/comet capacity, and the attempts they
> make shooting down the lunar ingots fail because the anti-missiles
> are programmed to estimate the distance of mostly-metal missiles,
> not of what are essentially lumps of rock.

And because they're ballistic hunks of metal-encased rock; not
fragile. They damaged the guidance package, but that just made the
final placement more random -- and the original targets were all
harmless, but sometimes *close* to soft targets. So the added
randomness greatly *increased* the damage.

(And H-bomb, in comparison, takes very accurate and precise sequencing
to actually explode properly. They're pretty fragile.)
--
David Dyer-Bennet, <dd...@dd-b.net>, <www.dd-b.net/dd-b/>
RKBA: <noguns-nomoney.com> <www.dd-b.net/carry/>
Photos: <dd-b.lighthunters.net> Snapshots: <www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/>
Dragaera/Steven Brust: <dragaera.info/>

Tony von Krag

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Dec 6, 2003, 1:52:05 AM12/6/03
to
In article <3nu6a1-...@mail.sfchat.org>,
arch...@sfchat.org (Nate Edel) wrote:

> Tony von Krag <von...@macnospam.com> wrote:


> > arch...@sfchat.org (Nate Edel) wrote:
> > > But can we blow _that much_ stuff up, without incurring radioactive
> > > fallout? Although I wonder what the effects of nonradioactive fallout
> > > from a large scale meteorite-like weapon would be?
> >
> > We experence this every time a volcano erupts I'd think or maybe a large
> > forest fire.
>

> *nod* although the scale continuum between forest fires->small volcano->big
> volcano covers a big range. What size meteorite-like weapon be more like A,
> B, or C?

I don't have a clue as to what sizing a mass thrower might be able to
do, I do seem to recall that the crater in AZ USA was caused by
something less than 50000kg in mass. I'd guess that anything we could
build might on the small end be in the low thousands of kg range to the
big end maybe one order of magnitude larger?

Sea Wasp

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Dec 6, 2003, 9:01:09 AM12/6/03
to
Tony von Krag wrote:
> In article <3nu6a1-...@mail.sfchat.org>,
> arch...@sfchat.org (Nate Edel) wrote:
>
>
>>Tony von Krag <von...@macnospam.com> wrote:
>>
>>> arch...@sfchat.org (Nate Edel) wrote:
>>>
>>>>But can we blow _that much_ stuff up, without incurring radioactive
>>>>fallout? Although I wonder what the effects of nonradioactive fallout
>>>>from a large scale meteorite-like weapon would be?
>>>
>>>We experence this every time a volcano erupts I'd think or maybe a large
>>>forest fire.
>>
>>*nod* although the scale continuum between forest fires->small volcano->big
>>volcano covers a big range. What size meteorite-like weapon be more like A,
>>B, or C?
>
>
> I don't have a clue as to what sizing a mass thrower might be able to
> do, I do seem to recall that the crater in AZ USA was caused by
> something less than 50000kg in mass. I'd guess that anything we could
> build might on the small end be in the low thousands of kg range to the
> big end maybe one order of magnitude larger?

In terms of taking a rock from the moon or something and throwing
it, probably. Though it's just a matter of energy. OTOH, you could
just pop out to one of the earth-grazing asteroids and tweak its orbit
slightly...


--
Sea Wasp
/^\
;;;
http://www.wizvax.net/seawasp/index.htm

mike weber

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Dec 6, 2003, 9:12:56 AM12/6/03
to
On Fri, 5 Dec 2003 12:30:05 -0600, Bill Higgins <hig...@fnal.gov>
typed

>The Earth military forces don't seem to have countermeasures prepared, and
>seem not to have considered the electromagnetic catapult as a possible
>weapon. (Though we can't infer very much about their thinking from the
>novel.)

Nobody seems to have -- it comes as a complete surprise to Manny and
Prof when mike suggests it.
--
"...no use looking for the answers when the questions are in
doubt..."
"The Love of My Life" by F.LeBlanc (Cowboy Mouth)

mike weber <mike....@electronictiger.com>
Book Reviews & More -- http://electronictiger.com

mike weber

unread,
Dec 6, 2003, 9:31:40 AM12/6/03
to
On Fri, 05 Dec 2003 23:39:53 GMT, Vicki Rosenzweig <v...@redbird.org>
typed

>If I recall correctly, in the book the Terrans have some anti-missile
>capacity, but no anti-asteroid/comet capacity, and the attempts they
>make shooting down the lunar ingots fail because the anti-missiles
>are programmed to estimate the distance of mostly-metal missiles,
>not of what are essentially lumps of rock.

Also, doesn't at least one attempt to knock out a rock actually
*increase* the devastation by knocking it off-course into a
more-heavily-populated area?

Robert Sneddon

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Dec 6, 2003, 9:29:14 AM12/6/03
to
In article <3FD1E126...@wizvax.net>, Sea Wasp <sea...@wizvax.net>
writes

>
> In terms of taking a rock from the moon or something and throwing
>it, probably. Though it's just a matter of energy.

What you have to reckon is the energy required to sling the rock up and
over the "hill" has to be supplied in the few seconds it is in the
accelerator. Assuming it gets to the top of the "hill" and no more then
its speed at point of impact will be effectively Earth escape velocity
minus a delta for air resistance (and I assume that the makers of the
rocks will design them to be aerodynamic to reduce this loss and
concentrate the kinetic energy on the target).

That means giving about 2.5km/s of Lunar escape velocity (figured from
the Artemis Project) to a given rock, or roughly 3x10^9J per tonne mass.
That's a lot of energy needed if the rock is accelerated quickly -- say
in ten seconds, that would 300MW per tonne assuming no losses in the
catapult system. I've seen no figures on how efficient a mass driver
would be in terms of electricity consumed versus acceleration and I
don't know if they are available anywhere.

The real bonus for a Lunar driver is the gravity gauge; terminal
velocity on the Earth's surface would be 11km/sec (minus a little for
air resistance and the fact the Moon is well within the Earth's
gravitational grasp) so the hypothetical tonne of rock would deliver
about 10^11J on target. That's an energy multiplier of 30.

--
Email me via nojay (at) nojay (dot) fsnet (dot) co (dot) uk
This address no longer accepts HTML posts.

Robert Sneddon

Thomas Womack

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Dec 6, 2003, 11:03:07 AM12/6/03
to
In article <bqq9a5$stj$1...@panix1.panix.com>,
James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> wrote:
>Tom Womack wrote:

[rocks are cheap, anti-rock missiles expensive, launchpads even more so]

> Except that this is occuring in a regime where it's practical
>to build a 31+ km track and the associated radiators plus the nuclear
>generator (Or solar, at about 5 watts per kilogram for photovoltaics,
>IIRC) on the Moon. So they have cheap access to space or this wouldn't
>be happening.

They have cheap access to space, but I don't recall this being cheap
and rapid access to space -- Truax's Sea Dragon was cheap access to
space, but would be singularly useless for launching anti-rock
missiles. I assumed the lunar colony was started off with a Standard
Colonisation Package a few stps down from van Neumann machines, and
that the track, radiators, generator and panels were made from
indigenous materials. It's probably worth shipping up plutonium;
I'm not sure how much else is unreasonable to build on-site.

> One thing you could do is build a similar, more powerful
>accelerator on Earth. It needs a lot more power (20x/kg) but can
>draw on the planetary grid. It's also huge, more than 600 km long.

Doesn't it either produce pretty meteor trails at its outbound end,
or have to be elevated to have one end above the atmosphere? I'm
not at all convinced a 600km project is anything like affordable -
note that the Superconducting Supercollider wasn't, and that was
allowed to be circular and launched protons rather than rocks.

>>[1] I'm sounding like the demented cross between Curtis LeMay and
>>von Neumann. If someone can convince me that there's a method
>>short of total annihilation, I'd appreciate it.
>
> Hmmm. Shades of the railway destruction thread on another group.
>The accelerator might be designed so that defective units could be swapped
>in and out fast (If it's originally a commercial unit, I'd definitely want
>to minimize down time). Go for the power source or the radiators.

Ah. I wasn't proposing blowing up the accelerator, I was proposing blowing
up Luna City. Yes, you destroy the power source and the radiators too --
I don't recall whether or not destroying the power source would leave
Luna City with the power-supply issues of 9th April Baghdad, but without
the Tigris to drink from or the free air blowing in.

Tom

David Dyer-Bennet

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Dec 6, 2003, 11:47:11 AM12/6/03
to
Thomas Womack <two...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> writes:

> In article <bqq9a5$stj$1...@panix1.panix.com>,
> James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> wrote:

> > One thing you could do is build a similar, more powerful
> >accelerator on Earth. It needs a lot more power (20x/kg) but can
> >draw on the planetary grid. It's also huge, more than 600 km long.
>
> Doesn't it either produce pretty meteor trails at its outbound end,
> or have to be elevated to have one end above the atmosphere? I'm
> not at all convinced a 600km project is anything like affordable -
> note that the Superconducting Supercollider wasn't, and that was
> allowed to be circular and launched protons rather than rocks.

There's considerable discussion of building a catapult on earth in the
book. Yes, they want a relatively high end point. But they're
doubling the acceleration, to 20g as I remember it, and building
something *much* shorter than 600km.

James Nicoll

unread,
Dec 6, 2003, 3:58:26 PM12/6/03
to
In article <m2r7ziq...@gw.dd-b.net>,

David Dyer-Bennet <dd...@dd-b.net> wrote:
>Vicki Rosenzweig <v...@redbird.org> writes:
>
>> Quoth jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) on 4 Dec 2003 17:59:33 -0500:
>
>> > NASA tracks orbital debris as small as 10 cm, and current
>> >radar technology (which is to say, of an era earier than the Lunar
>> >Catapult) can track items as small as 3 mm, albeit below 600 km
>> >altitude at present.
>> >
>> > Incoming ingots are therefore likely to be noticed fairly early.
>>
>> If I recall correctly, in the book the Terrans have some anti-missile
>> capacity, but no anti-asteroid/comet capacity, and the attempts they
>> make shooting down the lunar ingots fail because the anti-missiles
>> are programmed to estimate the distance of mostly-metal missiles,
>> not of what are essentially lumps of rock.
>
>And because they're ballistic hunks of metal-encased rock; not
>fragile. They damaged the guidance package, but that just made the
>final placement more random -- and the original targets were all
>harmless, but sometimes *close* to soft targets. So the added
>randomness greatly *increased* the damage.
>
>(And H-bomb, in comparison, takes very accurate and precise sequencing
>to actually explode properly. They're pretty fragile.)

An incoming rock is pretty fragile as well. In fact, they
usually break apart in the air on the way down (Obviously, as at
Tunguska, there can still be noticable surface effects but Tunguska
was much more energetic than the objects we have been discussing).

A design challenge with the Lunar Bombard is to come up
with something that can make it all way to the surface without
breaking apart or being braked as it tears through the atmosphere
(Hence the osmium rounds: highest mass to volume I could find).

James Nicoll

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Dec 6, 2003, 4:00:33 PM12/6/03
to
In article <3PD*U9...@news.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,

Thomas Womack <two...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
>In article <bqq9a5$stj$1...@panix1.panix.com>,
>James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> wrote:
>
>> One thing you could do is build a similar, more powerful
>>accelerator on Earth. It needs a lot more power (20x/kg) but can
>>draw on the planetary grid. It's also huge, more than 600 km long.
>
>Doesn't it either produce pretty meteor trails at its outbound end,
>or have to be elevated to have one end above the atmosphere? I'm
>not at all convinced a 600km project is anything like affordable -
>note that the Superconducting Supercollider wasn't, and that was
>allowed to be circular and launched protons rather than rocks.

If 11 km/s rocks can't make it up out of the atmosphere,
they won't make down through the atmosphere.

>>>[1] I'm sounding like the demented cross between Curtis LeMay and
>>>von Neumann. If someone can convince me that there's a method
>>>short of total annihilation, I'd appreciate it.
>>
>> Hmmm. Shades of the railway destruction thread on another group.
>>The accelerator might be designed so that defective units could be swapped
>>in and out fast (If it's originally a commercial unit, I'd definitely want
>>to minimize down time). Go for the power source or the radiators.
>
>Ah. I wasn't proposing blowing up the accelerator, I was proposing blowing
>up Luna City. Yes, you destroy the power source and the radiators too --
>I don't recall whether or not destroying the power source would leave
>Luna City with the power-supply issues of 9th April Baghdad, but without
>the Tigris to drink from or the free air blowing in.
>

Killing everyone in Luna City doesn't stop the rocks from
being fired but it certainly pisses off the bombard operators.

Robert Sneddon

unread,
Dec 6, 2003, 5:14:48 PM12/6/03
to
In article <bqtg1h$n90$1...@panix2.panix.com>, James Nicoll
<jdni...@panix.com> writes

>
> If 11 km/s rocks can't make it up out of the atmosphere,
>they won't make down through the atmosphere.

On the way down they're only going to be in significant amounts of
atmosphere for about two or three seconds. On the way up propelled by an
Earth-based mass driver they're going to be punching their way through
thick atmosphere for tens of seconds, maybe longer.

A weapon-rock dissipating some of its energy as heat and shock is going
to damage the area surrounding the impact site somewhat. An Earth-based
mass driver is going to have to *withstand* that kind of close-in
hypersonic shockwave for much of its length (unless they can evacuate
it, not an easy trick).

Robert Sneddon

unread,
Dec 6, 2003, 5:23:34 PM12/6/03
to
In article <bqtfti$muj$1...@panix2.panix.com>, James Nicoll
<jdni...@panix.com> writes
>

> An incoming rock is pretty fragile as well. In fact, they
>usually break apart in the air on the way down (Obviously, as at
>Tunguska, there can still be noticable surface effects but Tunguska
>was much more energetic than the objects we have been discussing).

Bombardment rocks would not be as flawed as naturally-occurring
asteroids and cometary bodies which are often aggregates. Aerodynamic
slugs of remelted basalt cast in vacuo and then X-rayed for flaws are
more likely than random regolith lumps chiselled out of a nearby Lunar
hillside. Possibly a heatshield would be fitted on the nose to prevent
heat damage in the second or two it would take to punch through the
atmosphere to ground level.

> A design challenge with the Lunar Bombard is to come up
>with something that can make it all way to the surface without
>breaking apart or being braked as it tears through the atmosphere

Basalt is about 2.9 tonnes per cubic metre so a 100-tonne missile would
be about 30 cu. metres. You'd be looking at a slug about 8 metres long
and 2.5 metres in diameter, shaped like a rifle bullet.

Paul F. Dietz

unread,
Dec 6, 2003, 5:28:45 PM12/6/03
to
James Nicoll wrote:

>>Ah. I wasn't proposing blowing up the accelerator, I was proposing blowing
>>up Luna City. Yes, you destroy the power source and the radiators too --
>>I don't recall whether or not destroying the power source would leave
>>Luna City with the power-supply issues of 9th April Baghdad, but without
>>the Tigris to drink from or the free air blowing in.
>>
>
> Killing everyone in Luna City doesn't stop the rocks from
> being fired but it certainly pisses off the bombard operators.


The radiators associated with the accelerator cannot be hidden.
You can take out the accelerator by nuking the radiators. (Remember,
a nuke the size of one of these inert projectiles would have
a yield of 100 megatons or more, and large nukes are really cheap
per megaton.)

You could also find the accelerators by seismic means. Each launch
will produce seismic waves that are audible across the entire moon.