OVERTURE

“It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.”
– AC / DC

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One of the many afflictions that besiege any intelligent species in the Universe is the urge to expand their territorial domain. This, of course, includes adventures into outer space. Humans are no different. However, space travel is currently the birthright of various governments and billionaires, for only these entities have the Right $tuff to accomplish the seemingly impossible. This most unfortunate axiom is the reason why commercial spaceflight has not yet fully become a reality.

This blueprint presents one possible solution to that dilemma.

Tourism will be the number one industry in the coming multi–trillion dollar outer space market while simultaneously helping to boost other industries and markets, including science. Tourism can and will pay for space; all that is lacking is the infrastructure and the will to do it. This blueprint describes how to use contemporary ideas and technology to provide a presence in Earth orbit and the Moon.

Critics say that there does not exist a flock of tourists spending gobs of money going to Antarctica for a vacation, and it's a lot cheaper to get there than flying to the lunar surface, for example. So why would anyone pay to go to the Moon?

My answer to this question is the Overview Effect. It is an apples–to–oranges comparison. There is nothing really exciting to see or experience in Antarctica, except lots of whiteness and cold. On the Moon, they get to see the Earth as the fragile, beautiful, and awe-inspiring “Christmas Tree ornament" as Jim Lovell put so well. Their lunar surroundings will be a "magnificent desolation" as Buzz Aldrin put so well as well. That's the difference between Antarctica and the Moon. The Overview Effect is probably not going to happen in Antarctica, but it's a sure bet it will happen in space.

We can even hope these millionaires come back having a newfound respect for "the good Earth," as Frank Borman said while orbiting the Moon. It was once said that Apollo 8 went to the Moon and discovered Earth. Maybe space tourism will be similar?

Once we have a permanent location in space, science will surely follow. But tourism will always lead the way.

This paper will show that using present–level technology, a Single–Stage–To–Orbit launch vehicle is not only possible but feasible, and that this spacecraft can carry other spacecraft that will eventually reach out into cislunar space. The vision entailed is one for science fiction movies such as 2001: a Space Odyssey: a spaceport oasis in the middle of a desert, complete with manufacturing plants, control towers, runways, launch pads, propellant storage, training facilities, etc., all powered using a vast array of solar panels, commercial passenger spaceliners, space hotels, space tugs, and lunar landings at a lunar base. Of all the components, the spaceliner is absolutely essential for tourism to happen.

Cryogenic propellant for the spaceliners back on Earth will be produced by bringing fresh water in from a nearby coast using a pipeline and using power from solar panels for electrolysis and liquefaction. Single–Stage–To–Orbit Reusable Launch Vehicles will carry cargo into an orbital altitude that will assure regularly scheduled flights into space and offer a more stable orbit to house a permanent space station, its crew, and, of course, tourists. The orbital station will be the launch point for various sorties, including missions involving science, but mostly, tourism. The station will also refurbish spacesuits and spacecraft and crew modules for reuse by the crew and tourists alike.

Freeflying platforms will provide invaluable and profitable science products. For example, the electrophoresis process in a microgravity environment can easily produce pure proteins for medical uses. The same environment aides in the growth of large crystals for use in electronics. As the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has shown, a medium–sized mirror in space can produce spectacular scientific results. With several HST–style telescopes in orbit, the process of Aperture Synthesis can be used to peer even further into the abyss.

The list of science spin–offs that are realistically achievable is virtually endless.

But before any sortie can take place from the station, cryogenic propellant replenishment of orbital spacecraft must become simple and routine. The replenishment module will fit into the Reusable Launch Vehicle. The module will rendezvous and dock with an orbital spacecraft, then use sump pumps to transfer three cryogenic substances: Liquid Hydrogen (fuel), Liquid Oxygen (oxidizer), and Liquid Nitrogen (oxidizer tank pressurization). The module is then returned to Earth for refurbishment and refill and returned to orbital space for reuse. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The moment spaceships can be easily refilled, flights into cislunar space will become just as routine as flights into space. Crews will eventually land on the Moon. Once on the lunar surface, a base will be set up near the lunar equator for easy access. The philosophy of In–Situ Resource Utilization can then be implemented to process regolith using electrolysis to separate oxygen, aluminum, silicon, nitrogen, and other materials. The oxygen will be liquefied to be mostly used as a rocket engine oxidizer. By combining the liquid oxygen with liquid hydrogen fuel transported from Earth, a fairly easy process for propellant replenishment on the lunar surface will be achieved. Meanwhile, aluminum and silicone will be used to build shelters and other structures at a reduced cost. Additionally, scientists and tourists will have a place to stay and will fly sorties to interesting lunar destinations. Before long, flights to the ice fields in the permanently–shadowed craters at the South Pole will occur, where rovers will collect ice and use electrolysis to separate the hydrogen and oxygen, thus finally providing a source of propellant independent of Earth.

Finally, most technical papers that call for ambitious goals in space always seem to assume that the taxpayer will pick up the bill for everything in sight or that a billionaire will swoop in to financially save the day. We will instead call for raising the initial startup capital by distributing the cost over a wide net of millionaire individuals, thus becoming the first crowdsourced private human space program in history; not one penny of government funds will be used for this endeavor. Each person that signs on to the program will actually be a true space entrepreneur, where they will have invested in the high ground of space and will get an equally high yearly Return On Investment (ROI) by providing a service for individuals that wish to experience the ultimate high that is space tourism. Ergo, this blueprint could very well be looked upon as a kind of prospectus for prescient investors.

Realistic science fiction movies will serve as our vision. The concepts of hardware reuse and commonality will be our inspiration. Refilling cryogenic propellant tanks in space will be our driving force. In–Situ Resource Utilization will be our guiding principle. Everything will be accomplished within the first 3,000 days, which just happens to be about the same amount of time between President Kennedy’s speech calling us forward to the Moon and Armstrong’s famous words reverberating from Tranquility Base into the beyond. If they can do it, so can we.

It may be a long way to the top of the space industry, but using established designs coupled with present–level technology, the payoff will be just as high. It is desirable to seize the opportunity afforded to us during this moment in history.

In the end, it is a win–win scenario for everyone: the next generation of potential future space travelers get to be inspired and we get to make space history. Our argument thusly becomes: wouldn’t it be nice to make a little money while doing all that inspiring and space history–making?

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