Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dangerous Places

Today we visited Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington DC – within feet of the Pentagon’s continent size parking lots. As I considered who it was I wanted to “visit” at the national cemetery, it became immediately obvious to me that it would be the gravesite of Admiral Richard E. Byrd – the great early 20th century explorer. Upon arrival, I looked Admiral Byrd’s site up on the map and off we went to find the grave plot of one of my childhood heroes.

In the 5th grade, I clearly remember reading the account of Admiral Byrd’s harrowing exploration of Antarctica. He decided for still unclear reasons to man single-handedly an Antarctica weather station some 123 miles from the nearest base – all alone – and totally out of reach of any rescuers that he may have needed for whatever reason. He wrote of this adventure in a book aptly titled, ALONE. It was truly an amazing account for a young boy who would later grow up to be an explorer himself. The primary lesson I gleaned from Admiral Byrd’s account was that true exploration was equivalent to struggle in the field and genuine adventure was invariably linked with its uncertainty. Anything else did not equal true exploration but more of a complicated camp-out pre-ordained by advanced press releases.

And so it was that as I knelt down beside Admiral Byrd’s gravesite that I felt a sense of gratitude that of all the explorers that first seized my attention – it was he and not the 20th and 21st century gentleman adventurers who gauge exploration by probabilities of guaranteed success. Admiral Byrd reminds us all that real explorers engaged in real exploration are more often than not fully engaged by the true danger of the adventure and not the adventure’s payoff in the end. Said Byrd,

“I watched the sky a long time, concluding that such beauty was reserved for distant, dangerous places, and that nature has good reason for exacting her own special sacrifices from those determined to witness them.”

Friday, June 20, 2008

Phoenix finds ice!

Ralph Buttigieg
Sydney, NSW
It has just been confirmed , the Phoenix lander has found water ice on Mars:
June 19, 2008 -- Dice-size crumbs of bright material have vanished from inside a trench where they were photographed by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander four days ago, convincing scientists that the material was frozen water that vaporized after digging exposed it. "It must be ice," said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson. "These little clumps completely disappearing over the course of a few days, that is perfect evidence that it's ice. There had been some question whether the bright material was salt. Salt can't do that." .....
(Click on the original graphic link to see the animated gif)
There could be more to come too. The people at the Xentotech website have come up with the following animated gif from the raw graphics. It looks like wet mud dehydrating to me. We will have to wait and see if NASA confirms any more watery discoveries.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Atlantica Log: June 11, 2008

The 2010 World Record Mission Already In Motion

The 2010 World Record Mission for longest underwater stay by a team of aquanauts has already begun in the field. Shown here is a photo taken earlier today of Atlantica Mission crewmember Brett English onboard the Kou Walter near Polaris B – the proposed site of the underwater mission.

A three member team went out to investigate several key logistic elements of the mission. Because of the extensive mission requirements that will see three crewmembers stay down for uninterrupted stays of months duration as well as a full time surface crew and a chain of more than 50 different aquanauts visiting the Leviathan and New Worlds Explorer habitats on a daily basis, the logistics chain has to be well planned. We are already setting it up as shown in this photo in a step wise fashion that requires miles of in water support.

The nearest boat ramp to the location is some five miles distant. Over this distance and two staging points separated by more than 13 miles of water, a constant stream of crewmembers, supplies, fuel, food, water and scientific instruments must be safely traversed. This is why the work has already begun, even though the mission start date is still 781 days away!

Brett English is not only an accomplished diver, he is also the artist responsible for the modeling of the habitats New Worlds Explorer and Leviathan. He is a resident of Orlando, Florida and a graduate of Full Sail University.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

One Way To Aquatica

Ralph loaded a great blog here several days ago titled (below) One Way To Mars. It is not just a fascinating concept – it is also a typically human mindset replete with historic precedent.

For instance, as Claudia and I pointed out in our book, The Proxima Manual of Space Exploration over a decade ago, some of the 17th century settlers of the new world of the Americas left not to stay- but to make their fortunes and return to England rich and famous. Reality, however, had another completely different fate in mind:

In 1606, the first ships left England for the new world. They were jammed to overflowing, each individual clinging to a dream, summed up by a few words on a flyer, clutched tightly in expectant fingers. The flyer read (sic):

"Virginia, earth's onely paradise, where nature hath in store Fowle, Venison and Fish, And the fruitful'st Soyle, And without your Toyle, Three harvests more, All greater than your wish..."

They were headed by the hundreds for this paradise they called Virginia and soon, they would number in the thousands. They were lured away from England, each for their own reasons, but all by promises of fame and fortune or simply the opportunity to escape the slums and poverty and to carve out a better life for themselves and their children.

The ocean itself took the first toll. Thirty-nine of the 144 on the first three ships perished on the way over. Seventeen years later, over 14,000 settlers and colonists had made the trip over. All but 1,134 of them had died in the Virginia paradise. They had been ravaged by disease and savage natives, to be sure, but most died because their life support system failed. The little flyers were partly to blame for the mass deaths. The London Company also bore more than a small share of the responsibility. But the life support system held the key to life and death. It failed them for a number of reasons.

The flyer attracted two distinct and polarized classes of England. The first were the "gentlemen adventurers". They made the crossing to paradise to claim their share of gold and fame, along with whatever other miscellaneous success they could drive out of the wilderness. The second class were the indigent - seeking relief from the brutal English caste system or many were prisoners who chose to be shipped away rather than spend their time in the stockade.

When they arrived in the new world, none of them knew how to farm. Such activity was far beneath the dignity of the gentleman and completely beyond the understanding of both. So they died together when the food ran out and the winter set in. The paradise they had so longed for took their lives without the slightest regard for their social standing.

The experience of the early colonists to the new world is playing itself out all over again both in space as well as in the oceans. The 21st century has dawned with more than just the Atlantica Expeditions setting their sights on the new frontiers. And from my personal encounters with them, the boat is again loaded down to over capacity with the enticement of fame, fortune and gentleman adventurer types who wish to go to the frontier, make their fame and fortunes and retire in style back on the land. The exact same is true for many (not all) modern space farers.

However, it is equally true that there are still some of us who wish to cast off the pier and take our one-way trip outward, with no intention of ever returning. That is what is so remarkable about the Atlantica Expeditions. We are permanent settlers willing and ready to risk our fame and fortune on a citizenry of the future, yet unborn.

Are you interested in this idea? Then join us!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

One Way to Mars

Ralph Buttigieg
Sydney NSW
A few days ago the Phoenix Mars Lander successfully reached Mars. Its mission will be to search for ice water at the Martian Arctic. Already there are indications that it will be successful. The availability of water on Mars will boost both the search for Martian life and the practicality of human exploration.

A human Mars mission faces enormous challenges such a radiation and the long trip in micro-gravity. We not only have to get the astronauts there but we need to bring them back. But do we really need to bring them back to Earth? Why not send them one way, to stay?

If the end goal is human colonization then sooner or later humans will go to Mars to stay. Thats what colonist do. The question really is are we at the stage yet when permanently homesteading Mars is realistic? The European settlement of Australasia and the Americas was preceded by human explorers. No human has visited Mars but space agencies have been sending robotic pathfinders for decades. Perhaps we can skip the human explorer stage and go straight to colonization.

This is not a new idea, George William Herbert laid out a possible architecture several years ago. The basic requirements are shelter, water, air and food. The colonist can take shelter with them, inflatables can be roomy and comfortable, covered with Martian regolith they would be protected against radiation. Water can be condensed from the atmosphere's moisture or better still extracted from ice or the soil if available. Oxygen can be obtained from the water or atmospheric CO2. Enough dehydrated food for several decades would be sent and it would be supplemented by fruit and vegetables grown in a greenhouse.

Of course volunteers will need to be found for the colony. I'm doubtful many volunteers would be found from the current astronaut corps. Astronauts by definition are travelers not settlers. Maybe soldiers are the right people to go. Sergeant First Class William H. Ruth III from the US 101st Airborne Division thinks so, in fact he and the men from his unit are ready to go. SFC Ruth is a battle harden Afghanistan veteran and writes:

"Here is an ‘out of the box idea’," Ruth writes. "Let the heroes of ‘All’ our countries, for once, risk the ultimate sacrifice for something greater than one man’s idea. Maybe once let these men and woman that rise every morning and say ‘today I will stand for something’ and say ‘evil will not prevail, not on my watch’. For once let them volunteer for us all, you never know, mankind, the human race. It might just catch on if we let it."

Ruth continues, "Will we falter at a hint of death or danger? Or will we do now what so many in ‘ALL’ of the world’s history has done before us. NASA of all thinking societies should understand this. Would there even be an America or NASA if a man named Columbus had not pursued a dangerous and possibly deadly voyage to a new world? He certainly had to consider whether or not he would ever return home to see all those he loved so dearly. But what of those aboard his ships, those that left Spain knowing that they would never return. Those few that willingly risked all for the chance at a new world and a new future, could they have possibly known what effects they would have had on the future due to their sacrifices? Now can we have enough vision to see our destiny, can we, for a moment, see past our petty differences of race and religion to see…peace, prosperity and possibly a new world."

SFC Ruth is a man of courage and vision.


All this reminds me of an old story:

NASA wanted to send a professional to Mars but to save money it would be a one person one-way mission.

They first asked an astronomer who said , yes he would go, it would be the fulfillment of his life's work. He would do it for one million dollars which he would give to his family.

A medical doctor was then asked. He said yes, he would go for two million dollars, one million for his family the other million he would donate to medical research.

NASA finally asked a lawyer. He said yes he would go for three million dollars. When asked why he wanted three million he told the NASA official;

“ I'll keep one million dollars, you get a million and with the other million we'll send that stupid astronomer off to Mars”

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Atlantica Expedition's New Position Announced

The Atlantica Expeditions is quite proud to announce the formation of a new Director’s Position – one that was very critically needed. The title of the new Expeditions position is: Director of Entrepreneurial Projects. Filling that position is Bill Kasper of Austin, Texas – quite a remarkable individual. Bill's job is to help develop synergies between the unique scientific opportunities of the Atlantica Expeditions and private enterprise in mutually beneficial entrepreneurial partnerships – and I might add that he already doing an amazing, incredible job!

So instead of telling his story for him, I sallied forth and we sat down across the ethereal virtual table together and held an interview so you could get to know him as I have. Here it is:

Atlantica Expeditions (AE): Bill, can you describe your profession to us in terms that us poor rocket scientists can understand? What is it exactly that you do?

Bill Kasper (BK): I optimize business processes to minimize expense and maximize profit (achieve "zero waste" in the LNW lexicon), evaluate capital activity to identify trends and patterns and develop risk profiles and recommendations for particular investments (particularly in the energy and technology sectors), and define and design software to support those business process enhancements and capital recommendations. It's less boring than it sounds. No, wait. It's exactly as boring as it sounds!

AE: Ok then. Whew! And what would your official title be, given all that?

BK: Technical Architect and Investment Risk Analyst (I occasionally fulfill several other roles such as Project Manager and Business Development Manager as required by circumstances, and depending how impatient I get with the people around me). I'm also a certified technical writer, one-time martial arts instructor, and a world-class sci-fi geek.

AE: Very cool, dude. Together we’ve already explored the core depths of several sci-fi epics but we’ll save our readers that particular agony! But given the certain inherent level of constant solid state insanity associated with the outrageous audacity of creating of humanity’s first undersea empire, as a certified “risk analyst”, what in heaven’s name actually drew you to participate in the expeditions?

BK: I had founded a non-profit corp. called the Alpha Long Range Foundation whose focus was to enhance the human condition at both the individual and species level by encouraging positive human activity and technology and discouraging the negative through financial support of worthwhile activities (micro-loans to stimulate individual capitalism, investment in start-up technology companies, etc.). I had a life-long fascination with colonization of the seas and space, and have always known that mankind's destiny is profitable stewardship of everywhere he can reach. After finding your "Undersea Colonies" through Google, and before getting even 10 pages into it, I joined the LNW. I knew that this was an organization that was already at least 20 years ahead of where I was, with a more precise goal and more momentum than my individual effort. So I have put my own philanthropic endeavors on hold in favor of supporting the lower-risk, higher success probability Atlantica Expeditions. It was a simple case of being lazy, and betting on the obvious winner...

AE: We should also let our fellow crew member know that your commitment is absolute. Even being a non-certified-diver (at this early point), you still filled out the ap and signed up for a position in Atlantica! So here you stand, truly on the verge of settling down to a permanent home in history’s first undersea colony. Any other ideas about that you would like to share with us?

BK: The Atlantica Expeditions represent one of those endeavors which simultaneously seems stupendous in scope and obvious in execution. It elicits my "Wow, that's amazing! You mean we haven't done that yet?" response. With the convergence of many seemingly unrelated factors (sharp increases in the consumer price of energy, food, and commodities, financial and population infrastructural strain across the planet, and technological advancement in materials and techniques), it seems that the time for marine colonization is finally upon us. And when I say "us", I mean Atlantica Expeditions leading the way for the rest of humanity. I have never, ever had any faith in any government organizations to achieve anything (with the possible exceptions of bankruptcy and genocide). The private, individual, commercial conquest of new frontiers always results in increased freedom, wealth, and opportunity, raising the bar for all of humanity. And with the integral philosophical component of "zero waste" and organic sense of care and stewardship of the environment, the Atlantica Expeditions represent the very best combination of human potential: Rational, sustainable, unlimited prosperity proceeding from a culture of cooperative, individual freedom. And we get to participate in this grand step forward for ourselves, our neighbors, our progeny and our planet. What a blessing!

AE: Wow! Where do I sign up for this deal? Bill – I just have to share with everyone that in the past two short weeks you have been a member, you have actually put in at least twice as many hours as I have during the same period. You have put in some long, hard hours, been awake when I’m turning in and awake when I get up answering my emails and text mails instantly. Claudia and I have been at this for many decades now and you are not only amazing but just plain astonishingly encouraging to us. What’s up with all this devotion?

BK: I've been fortunate in coming into the project so late in the game that all the hard work has already been done. You and Claudia and many others have put in countless hours and built upon hundreds of man-years, and I get to join the race 10 yards from the finish line as part of Team Atlantica and get showered with winner's champagne as though I had competing for the whole race. I would say that your gracious professionalism and genuine appreciation when inviting me into a position within the Atlantica Expeditions was an opportunity I would have been foolish to turn down. It is an opportunity to join the most significant human effort currently being undertaken, and I mean that literally, at the point when its success is guaranteed.

I think every crew member and would-be supporter must ask himself the following questions every day: "How can I help, and who can I tell?" If we all ask these questions, and act on the answers that come to us (no matter how seemingly inconsequential or impossibly gigantic in scope they may seem), Atlantica will proceed directly to the colony phase on or even ahead of schedule. We will move mankind from the cradle of the land to the nursery of the seas, and on to the endless frontiers of space one inevitable, personal step at a time. How can any rational human being decline to be part of that?