by Frank Wynerth Summers III (Notes) on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 3:35pm
I write many notes that I do not much tag and make it a habit not too tage heavily in my notes. At the time I write this I have 1,149 Facebook friends and dozens of them (you) were members of the group at the center of this topic. Feel free to converse or comment but please do not be offended for not being tagged. Most of those who are tagged were not memebers. Some are both. I just tagged a sampling of relevant Facebook friends who may or may not choose to read this trhough. I am comemorating the passing of one of the reasons I first opened this Facebook profile and keeping the ideas out there in the world one more day. This Note is really about a broader topic than the on I have selected for the title but the one I have selected for the title does matter. I am writing this note about the exploration of space and the colonization of the solar system and about my own life and efforts as well. So in context here are some thoughts:
Recalling A Facebook Group
Years ago I founded a group on Facebook called the Crater Cap Colony Concept Group. That group has now been defunct longer than it was in existence but it did involve people from all around the world and have a great number of images, formulations, discussions and diagrams related to the colonization of the Moon and Mars. It was perhaps one of the most difficult and daring undertakings of my life to bring that group into bing and was in many ways the very antithesis of the Obama presidency’s real inner meaning regardless of what else is going to come out of this period of American History. The time and energy freed up for me since the demise of this group has been time to do other things and I have done other things. In fact my whole life has been active enough.
The careful and methodical closing of the Crater Cap Colony Concept Group has been the putting aside of a dream which was busily working on for a few years in that context. Everyone has dreams and almost all of us have dreams that do not come true and which mattered to us significantly. My father dreamed of teaching at a university when I was a little child and he never did. It has always intrigued me to do so but it has never been as much a dream for me and I have already taught at a university and at a lot of other places. My dad has done some teaching as well but not as a regular instructor at a university. My father is retired and sort of emeritus head of a missionary organization of Catholics now but one of the reasons he was given for being refused a teaching assistantship at one university that gave him an interview is that at the time he was an atheist and that particular institution did not hire atheists as instructors. Years later he returned to his Roman Catholic heritage. Teaching, reading and scholarship are ready parts of my life and already parts of my life. I have been out of school for a long time but not entirely separate from these things, nor from the contacts I made in school. This past year I took the revised GRE and seriously considered going back to graduate school. I was serious about the Crater Cap Colony Concept Group but it was a kind of seriousness that was attenuated by the great difficulty in achieving these goals. I chose to shut down the group when the format changed and felt certain about that choice but it was not a simple or pleasant choice to make.
The Crater Cap Colony Concept Group also gave me connections to many people and an opportunity for many interesting discussions. However, that was not the first time I had ever been plugged into large groups of peopIe or had conversations that I cared about. I have spoken to perhaps thousands and certainly hundreds of audiences in my life and I have written a lot. I have been published a good bit as well. That history of publishing includes a good number bylines in periodicals read by those around me and in the places where I functioned then and still function now. These media include the Abbeville Meridional, The Advertiser, Bonnes Nouvelles (Vermilion) and the already much mentioned Vermilion. In the Crater Cap Colony Concept Group I had a chance to express my own opinions but I have often done that elsewhere. I have had letters to the editor appear in a variety of venues a few times over many years but those include Time and Newsweek. My only truly academic publication is a review of F.D.R.’s Moviemaker: memoirs and scripts written by Pare Lorentz and published posthumously in 1992 by the University of Nevada Press. The review appeared in the Book Reviews section of the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television in one of the issues of late 1992 or early 1993 on page 106 of that issue. I began that review with the words “Some memoirs and autobiographies of creative people require a sympathetic reading. Pare Lorenz’s memoirs do not.” My own brief autobiography in the Introductory personal statement on the old group cite may have required some sympathy to make good reading. But that is partly because there was a lot of my life to cover in a document like this and I was writing in the style one adopts when one knows that most of the essentials will not be covered I suppose.
My writing history has been in different categories, writing about Colonizing space was a special and useful outlet it has not and will not be replaced. I admit that one of my main motivations in founding the group was to seek out the institutional support for my own idea and to indulge my writerly interest in expressing that vision for the future which I still find essential. Since the closure of the group I have continued to comment on policy. I am (or at least often have been) a regular commenter on Lords of the Blog which has won the British Nominet awards as best public affairs blog. I am also a Grand Prize Winner on Lord Norton’s Quiz on that blog and have commented on his own The Norton View a great deal. I have over a thousand Facebook friends on the account where this note is first appearing. These Facebook friends are people who are very diverse and in many ways very select and elite as well. I have another account with hundreds of friends where I have an online novel which is largely set in Crater Cap colonies on the Moon that novel is the principal business of that second profile.
Thus if I am nostalgic about the old group that nostalgia must be seen in a realistic context. I still miss the group at times but it is not so easy to say why. I suppose part of it is a sense of being slighted or badly used in a number of ways and having suffered the effects of unfortunate circumstance. However, I have suffered a vast number of unfortunate circumstances and been slighted and ill used a vast number of times. Therefore that sense of injustice is not unique to the group either. I also have a sense of great opportunity lost and of wasted hope, energy and potential but that must be seen in the context of one who looks around the world and sees almost an infinite amount of lost and frustrated potential. One who finds a planet teaming with squandered opportunity and frustrated brilliance. The Crater Cap Colony Concept Group does not stand as lone mountain exceptional in a plain of even handed justice. Rather it is one copse of metaphorical trees of such frustration in a vast rainforest system of such ills.
I want to write about Space exploration, the space program and other things related to astronomy and other matters but I want to do so in a way which is responsive to the real context in which my own interest in Space and things related to astronautics has developed. For me the end of all things meaningful has been on a plane and trajectory at harmony with my life for a very long time. But still I am taking time to remember the end of this little Facebook group episode. I think that I have gotten too tired to recount all that has been lost
What the Crater Cap Colony Concept Was All About
This portion of the Note contains some material that has appeared on my Facebook page before now. I seek to articulate here what the CCCC Group sought to understand and bring to light in some kind of development. In origins and essence it grew from my own personal vision and beliefs as regards outer space itself. Outer space is that portion of the universe that is farther from the center of the Earth than the highest reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere. It makes up more than 99.99999999999999% of the universe which we can physically perceive. If we were to divide up all of the physical space we can see or detect equally among all the inhabitants of the Earth the amount of space occupied by all humans alive today would make a minute and entirely insignificant portion of the share belonging to each person. However, most of that space is dark empty and has hardly any atomic particles in it and it is so far away that physicaly using those particles in any way in the next 100 generations can’t be reasonably imagined. But even our solar system alone would allow us to use a fraction nearly as big as that we started this argument with or maybe bigger. In the solar sytem most of the oxygen is in outer space, most of the carbon is in outer space, most of the hydrogen is in outer space, most of the helium is in outer space, most of the metals we call precious are almost cerianly there and the metals we need for highly specialized uses abound in outer space. It is almost certain that there is more liquid water under the ice of Jupiter’s moon Europa than there is on Earth. Nothing between the Sun and the orbit of Pluto is intrinsically beyond the reach of our own basic technology to reach, tag and return from roboticaly. Cost, law, design glitches and time are clearly identifiable obstacles. I said these things were not intrinsically impossbible by rearranging and refining existing technology. Given thse basic facts, I believe that an aggressive space policy is in the interest of all humans and of the Earth and all its species so long as it is mostly a wise policy or even largely a wise policy.
What inspires me to write this note today is the small concept group which I mentioned in a previous Facebook note. I believe that the development of outer space is as important as anything else that confronts human beings in our age. The concept group was called Crater Cap Concept Colony Group. It is not the only group of people exploring the possibilities of space as a group and it is not the biggest such group either. However, it is certainly the only one that I had founded on Facebook. So that rates it an important mention in these notes.
Space colonization follows a chain going from observation, to exploration, to travel and exploration and then to stationing. After these things comes colonization. Space colonization has the chance to be the biggest change in human economy since the development of agriculture. The coming of agriculture was not an unmixed blessing but it was one of the most justifiable of all social changes in human history. Had humanity not become agricultural sooner or later things would have become much worse than they have gotten so far. Life today awaits at a crossroads as great as that of agriculture. The great works of irrigation for large scale agriculture created the mighty powers that ruled ancient China and Egypt and created societies that could pour weatlh into purchases that enabled other peoples to change from nomadic hunting or nomadic herding to a combination of nomadic herding and carrying trade goods. It enabled fisherfolk to increase their population by adding waterborne trade to their fishing economy. It enabled warrior bands to enter int0 long-term contracts with landholding kings and to earn a living partly from keeping the peace. Agriculture really made a different human world and remade much of the world as well. The best hunter-gatherers were actually richer, healthier and freer than the new farmers but in the end the choice of the species as a whole to emphasize agriculture was a choice vital to both survival and any real chance of prosperity. I think that space colonization requires a similar leap and offers similar sets of consequences. I don’t really expect to live to see a working colony on the Moon or Mars. However, as long as I do live I will apply some of my energy to that transition humanity must make towards becoming a space colonizing species. The Crater Cap Concept Colony is the model I thought then and still think now that we should be pushing towards making a reality. While astronomy has always been a discipline that was a significant teacher and leader into fields of knowledge for much of the human race’s journey into development — it must yield to the leadership of those who will build permanent and sustainable colonies. On the day when Humans have a few colonies on the moon with tens of thousands of residents each it will be very easy to make huge progress in astronomy. However, aiming only for a golden age of astronomy will not necessarily bring about lunar colonization. The larger possibility must find the rank and leadership in these areas.
Craters are distinct features which can be studied and which have common characteristics. They exist on the Earth, the Moon, Mars, asteroids, several moons of our solar systems planet and can be theorized to exist in or near many other objects around our sun or other stars. Capping a crater has an intrinsic economic and resource wisdom to it because one is using the enormous energy already expended in creating the bowl and only creating one side. Frequently one could achieve enormous benefeits in blicking our cosmic rays and radiation. All of these benefits are true even for asteroids. However, in larger round objects like the Moon and Mars it is very likely that one could use the gravity to create a highly functioning biospheric hemisphere. In terms familiar to some, one could make a terrarium including one or more aquaria. Whether or not there is air or liquid water on the heavenly body would have little to do with the success of the crater cap colony. People could live in these and that is the basis of our little concept group. that ended so long ago. It was confrimed in its hypothesis by many of the findings of lunar and Martian missions which have occurred since that time. I am including some drawings of various parts of the process at the end of this note without explanation.
I also think that once there is a crater colony (or certainly a few crater colonies) thriving on the moon then one would have a basis for many industries. Things manufactured on the moon would be easily lifted and deployed to Mars colonization, to space ships, to Earth orbiting stations and to asteroid miners. One sixth gravity is economic magic that would make all solar system operations entirely different. Producing goods in space and dropping them to earth is intrinsically cheap. Thus carbon fuels highly refined could be lifted to the moon where they will be mixed with gasses made impure for colonies by various accidents and industries. These fuels would lift six times as much from the Moon as they would from the Earth and these fuels would not affect Earth’s air and climate when burned. Very precious things would be “downported” by Earth to maintain a balance. In the distant future components of landing craft returning to Earth would be built with precious metals needed by agencies and nations on Earth. This would create a flow of commerce to bring our population base into outer space. Within a few centuries perhaps a significant minority of cities and farms could be in outer space without any flash bang science that includes things we cannot imagine.
Once we have a couple of crater colonies on the Moon we would need geosynchronous satellite and another base perhaps at an L point between lunar and Terran gravity. These would be the places where all aging nuclear weapons were disposed of by either being loaded on spacecraft for second or third explosions or used in initial explosions to launch really massive spacecraft to move very fast on the way to other colonies and smaller robots on their way to the stars.
None of this is pure fantasy. I think we should divide up most of the surface of the Moon and Mars among all of earth’s nations unequally, sell some as new national sites and keep a good portion as a permanent UN mandate. Failing to act wisely now either means we willl lose humanity’s greatest economic opportunity or else end up with a really horrible policy made under more pressing conditions. I am not optimistic that we will make good choices. But I think our behavior in this century will determine the human future’s outlook for all of foreseeable human society.
I am committed to specific goals but I support all who are sincerely striving for a human future in space that is wise and sustainable. Good luck and God Bless to all of you out there. I am not a likely expert or member of the space community but I cherish this hope for an expanding future. Perhaps the humanist and amateurish perspective will cost me a few Facebook friends. I lost some over the years of all types and besides professionals in space matters who mattered to me even lately. However, I am grateful for the professionals on my list at the time of this writing
The crater cap colony concept itself in diagram
details of a fast colonial ship design.