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The Great Asian Space Race
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The Great Asian Space Race:

Looks like Japan is pretty serious about competing with China in space, and others are putting their hat in the ring, too. Japan in particular has done some pretty impressive robotic missions lately (solar sail-craft, orbiter around Venus, sample-return mission that visited a comet), and I know that the Japanese are serious about orbiting solar power stations and star ladders (there government has funded preliminary studies, and they have a real need for energy resources that they don't have to import, so there's an economic incentive for them to build orbiting solar power stations that beam the energy wirelessly back down to Earth).

So, where do you see this heading? Are we going to see China and Japan kick off a new space race? While I still think that the USA will be the first to Mars, I don't see us being the ones to successfully start colonies there (why bother when you have plenty of fertile land and bountiful resources here at home?). Japan on the other hand, free energy and minerals from space is their wet dream. And China could use somewhere to dump its excess population, somewhere like Mars.
 2 Colonial1. 1, Wed, 7th Dec '11 3:42:29 PM from The Marvelous River City
Crazed Lawrencian
Doesn't India have something too?
Proud member of the IAA

What's the point of being grown up if you can't act childish?
[up]India and South Korea are wild cards. India doesn't have the same sort of economic incentives to colonize space, but they do have military reasons for wanting to maintain parity with China.

South Korea is an up and comer, but on a nominal level they seem willing to work with the Japanese and might end up doing joint missions with them.
 4 Colonial1. 1, Wed, 7th Dec '11 5:05:21 PM from The Marvelous River City
Crazed Lawrencian
Any others?
Proud member of the IAA

What's the point of being grown up if you can't act childish?
 5 Aceof Spades, Wed, 7th Dec '11 6:29:10 PM from The Wild Blue Yonder Relationship Status: I wanna know about these strangers like me
Mmm... I think Japan's going to have a more significant presence in space, at least for a while. For one thing, they're pretty willing to work with others in this arena. And fancy tech kind of seems to be their thing now.

But more realistically I'm thinking most things like colonization will be joint efforts between countries. You know, sharing of our resources, expertise, and defraying the monetary costs between countries. So yeah, maybe Japan/South Korea. (Does Korea even have a space program currently?)
 6 USAF713, Wed, 7th Dec '11 6:32:48 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Bleh... I've basically resigned myself to the fact that meaningful American space exploration is dead for the foreseeable future.

Thanks, Congress!

So... what the Asian countries do with this is their own problem. They can have their crack at it and find out how short-sighted people are.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 7 Joesolo, Wed, 7th Dec '11 7:29:00 PM Relationship Status: watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
This is why I want to get Filthy rich. I'll donate shit loads of money to Nasa, and we could compete again. Well, that and set up a company where the workers actually benefit as much as they deserve.

I'm a weird capitalist, arn't I?
I am going to shove the sunshine so far up where the sun don't shine that you will vomit nothing but warm summer days -Belkar
 8 USAF713, Wed, 7th Dec '11 7:50:29 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
You are one who sees how the system ought to work.

You won't last long in the business world.
I am now known as Flyboy.
Well I suppose this depends on how China goes about its space program. They had hinted at creating a 2nd international space station for all the people not allowed on the ISS because they were blocked by the US government (China, Pakistan, mideast countries etc).

At the same time, if China and India can get over their differences they can join together on the space program. Seeing as how the Chinese leadership loves symbolic bullcrap, it's likely. That can also happen between China and South Korea.

As for Japan, it's hard to say. I feel like they might just go with NASA, or go it alone. It'd be difficult for them to get cooperation with South Korea. Space programs are typically military oriented, so South Korean military personnel would despise working with the Japanese. It's a matter of how much the US can force cooperation in that regard.

 10 Deboss, Wed, 7th Dec '11 10:05:20 PM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Well, SK has the advantage. All they need to do is fly a single command center full of SC Vs up there and they're set.

I thought it was China giving a victory lap.
I will always cherish the chance of a new beggining.
 12 Greenmantle, Thu, 8th Dec '11 3:39:57 AM from Thornycroft-land Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Dodge-ing The Water
@ breadloaf: Japan already has the Japanese Experiment Module (Kibo) as the largest single module of the ISS, so they're not exactly uninvolved with NASA.
"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield" — Alfred, Lord Tennyson
 13 pagad, Thu, 8th Dec '11 6:15:42 AM from perfidious Albion Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Sneering Imperialist
orbiting solar power stations that beam the energy wirelessly back down to Earth

How feasible are these?
[up]Very, if given the proper funding. NASA just released a study on the potential, and found that they could be launched within a few decades if given some government support. And the military is serious about seeing these things put up, because wireless power anywhere in the globe boosts our projection power drastically. To keep the microwaves beams that these things would use from burning stuff, the beams would be low frequency.
@ Greenmantle

Well I meant that they would stay with the US rather than strike out on their own. Plus joining up with SK isn't going to help them and no need to deal with the political barriers in that regard.

@ Pagad

IEEE (association for electrical/electronic engineers) have been discussing plans for quite a while. The last thing I saw was that they'd have large orbiting solar panel satellites that would have a wide microwave beam pointed at a large metal grid on the ground.

The current issues are the attenuation of the beam through various weather. Most of the frequencies have already been purchased for use in all sorts of things (emergency frequencies, cell phones etc), so it might be tough in a regulatory sense to have a good frequency to beam the energy in at.

Also, as is usual for engineering issues, the question that is always asked is "what happens if something goes wrong?". So there needs to be some study about disaster mitigation and so on. Like, for instance, what happens if the beam goes off target?

 16 USAF713, Thu, 8th Dec '11 4:45:34 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
"What if it misses" is the big reason I say fuck orbital microwave power.

I think simple solar and wind and such is far better than putting what amounts to space lasers in orbit...
I am now known as Flyboy.
 17 Colonial1. 1, Thu, 8th Dec '11 4:49:03 PM from The Marvelous River City
Crazed Lawrencian
" far better than putting what amounts to space lasers in orbit..."

I fail to see the problem here.
Proud member of the IAA

What's the point of being grown up if you can't act childish?
[up]Which is why you go with low-frequency microwaves - so if the satellite misses, you don't set stuff on fire, and so that stray satellites and birds and what-not can pass through the beam if they go off course. And as an added safety measure, airlines could always equip their electronics with a faraday cage (basically, wire mess) - with the added bonus of allowing customers to use electronics on the plane.
 19 USAF713, Thu, 8th Dec '11 4:53:12 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
If you don't see a problem with using space lasers for power generation when they're absurdly expensive and sensationalist for the task versus solar and wind, you're one of those For Science! types that shouldn't be allowed within a thousand miles of a government grant.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 20 Colonial1. 1, Thu, 8th Dec '11 4:55:08 PM from The Marvelous River City
Crazed Lawrencian
—smiles, shrugs—

You're right, I'm not a scientist. Now lighten up and let me bask in threads like this.

Weren't there other countries in the Pacific with plans for a space program?
Proud member of the IAA

What's the point of being grown up if you can't act childish?
 21 Shinziril, Thu, 8th Dec '11 6:13:09 PM from the internet
Compulsive Researcher
A primary safety mechanism for space-based solar power would be to make the beams wide, so that any point in the beam isn't receiving more power than you would from, say, standing in direct sunlight. This makes them quite passively safe. The main problem with this is that the receiving rectennas have to be quite large to receive any significant power if you're limiting power per area. They're not necessarily horribly obtrusive (something like a grid of wires above the ground; you could even have plants and wildlife living underneath them, given that the intensity of the microwaves isn't high enough to be harmful), but you need to have a big open space you aren't using for anything else. This might be a problem in, say, Japan, which has little enough space already.

A second safety method mentioned in the Wikipedia article uses a method that basically makes it impossible for the microwave beam to be focused anywhere that doesn't have a "pilot" beam transmitting to the station. If the pilot beam goes away, the power beam defocuses (presumably to levels that are again below the level of direct sunlight).

The last problem that needs to be dealt with is launch costs. If we want to launch this stuff from Earth, for it to be economically feasible, space launch costs had better come way down. The one good thing here is that part of the reason why space launch is so expensive is there isn't a reliable demand for enormous quantities of it; space-based solar power might provide enough demand to really get some economies of scale going. Remember that an airliner may cost several hundred million dollars, and need to produce say a 10-15% annual return on investment for people to be interested in fronting the money for one, but it carries hundreds of people every day, so you can spread the costs out quite a bit.

Another problem is that space has lots of nasty radiation and such in it; the solar panels degrade a lot faster out there than they do down here. You'd have to keep replacing these things. That might be useful for ensuring a constant supply of high-quality low-cost space launch, come to think of it . . .

The primary advantage of space-based solar over ground-based solar is that it's reliable, 24/7 power. You can't get that from ground-based solar, and storing electricity, while possible, is annoyingly difficult and expensive. There's a reason the electrical grid is currently mostly designed to produce electricity exactly when it's needed rather than storing it for later.

edited 8th Dec '11 6:19:20 PM by Shinziril

 22 Deboss, Fri, 9th Dec '11 2:51:27 AM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
It's not a laser. Not anything like one either if you're thinking of something that can cut things.
 23 USAF713, Fri, 9th Dec '11 3:44:43 AM from the United States
I changed accounts.
No, I'm thinking of something that makes things melt or (to the naked eye) spontaneously combust, like a chemical laser. "Beam" is likely more appropriate.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 24 Deboss, Fri, 9th Dec '11 4:23:55 AM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Won't do that either.
 25 Blue Ninja 0, Fri, 9th Dec '11 7:41:36 AM from The Middle of Nowhere Relationship Status: She's holding a very large knife
Slowly dying on the inside
you need to have a big open space you aren't using for anything else. This might be a problem in, say, Japan, which has little enough space already. - Shinziril
Wouldn't, say, the roof of a large building be perfect for such a recepticle?
Once the avalanche has started, it is too late for the pebbles to cast their vote. - Ambassador Kosh
Total posts: 26

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