X-Message-Number: 12145
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: about full space travel and when it will arrive, really
Date: Sat, 17 Jul 1999 22:56:18 +1000 (EST)

To Olaf Henny:

You raise one of the problems I myself have with predictions that we'll
be mining asteroids on 25 years.

I will say this, however, as someone who tries to follow developments in
space. There has been progress, though much more slowly than people
thought 30 years ago. Right now several agencies, both public and private
companies, are planning the design of ships able to reach an orbit using
only one stage and with prices similar to those of an aircraft flight.
This level of cost actually seems reachable within current technology
(though to be fair, it wasn't reachable 30 years ago).

Yes, such an ability requires a lot more before we start mining asteroids,
or even modifying their orbits to keep them from hitting the Earth. But
there has been slow progress. Moreover, there's no sign that this slow
progress will cease. Ultimately this will all be to the good, even for
cryonicists: I once did some calculations suggesting that quite
inevitably, in about 300 years we'd simply HAVE to move a lot of our 
industries off the Earth. (Yes, the calculations were VERY approximate).
This would not be because of any of the pollution problems (such as CO2)
that we hear of now, but simply due to the waste heat generated by
our use of power --- something much harder to deal with than any kind
of simple pollution.

So I do expect that we'll be mining asteroids and all the rest. But not
in 25 years, not at all.

			Best and long long life,

				Thomas Donaldson

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