To Survive, Prinzton Must Earn More in Exports than it Pays for Imports
Part VI Previously Published in Moon Miners' Manifesto #32, February 1990
A- Settlement Import Categories And Strategies To Cut And/Or Avoid Them
1-CAPITAL EQUIPMENT: "MUS/cle" co-manufacture is easily the most promising approach. A minimal sintered iron and glass composite manufacturing capacity must be imported FIRST. Thereafter, complex lightweight electronics-rich ("cle") "works packages" from Earth are mated to Massive Unitary Simple ("MUS") parts made on the Moon of Lunar materials and assembled on the site to make additional equipment for Energy Generation, Mining & Processing, Manufacturing, Construction, Fabrication & Repair, and for Food Production. [SEE: "M.U.S./C.L.E." in MMM # 18 September '88.]
2-SETTLERS: "Bantamweights" will do. Prinzton will be run with brains rather than brawn. Weight savings on settlers can be applied elsewhere.
3-FARM PLANTS AND ANIMALS: Seeds only, and worms and bee colony; Seeds packed in hot pure N2 to kill hitchhiking pests; Unpatented non-hybrid cultivars only; and pregnant female animals only.
4-VOLATILES: Hydrogen, Carbon, Nitrogen: The import burden can be softened by some careful measures faithfully pursued: (a) Harvesting, by heating, of the significant quantities of H, C, N, and other gases adsorbed to the fine regolith particles, thanks to eons of Solar Wind bombardment, during all construction processes involving soil moving; (b) Outsourcing to gravity wells shallower than Earth's e.g. Phobos and Deimos, Earth-approaching asteroids and comets; (c) Conservation of volatile-rich organic materials by religiously thorough recycling efforts. In support of this goal Prinzton will need "kosher" (organics not bonded to inorganics) knock-down- friendly ("KD") assembly methods; systematically thorough and foolproof sorting clues and handy routing managements; and above all the help of ingrained second-nature good habits and expected chore assignments. (d) 'Pre-codesigning' Single-use containers for volume-matched secondary more durable uses. (An example already attempted was the elusive "World Bottle" design i.e. a bottle that could be reused as a brick; Effort not yet successful.) (e) Buttoning up pressurized areas for Nitrogen conservation by use of novel airlock systems: Matchlock docking airlocks to allow suitless shirtsleeve transfer between vehicles and habitat areas; Liquid airlocks for some freight categories such as goods manufactured inside for use in vacuum and vice versa; and Turtleback space suits that back into special mated airlocks for direct entry from suit to habitat and vice verse.
5-RARE METALS: An elegant way to painlessly "co-import" rare metals, and even some synthetics is by making all needed shipping containers end packaging out of such materials i.e. the easily forgotten category of "Tare". [Gross - Net = Tare] Making this standard practice could provide a tidy "cheap" endowment of badly needed materials hard to process from the Lunar soil such as copper, brass, other precious metals, other needed alloying ingredients, and even some volatiles in the form of lightly polymerized synthetics. Crates, Boxes, Barrels, Tanks, Cans, Bottles, and packing stuffing and dividers could all be made of such strategic materials.
6-HABITATS: To make the Prinzton construction camp, an original minimum number of tight-packed space station module type sardine cans can be followed by locally manufactured and constructed Big Dumb Volume Structures in which are placed "Works Core Modules" made on Earth. Such cores would contain Kitchen/Bath facility, electrical service, communications-entertainment center, air conditioning-heating-cleaning unit, etcetera. The total core package would be lighter (no massive hull) and cheaper to upport from Earth and the host habitat would be much more spacious and cabin-fever resistant. Such Works Core Modules, but with an ever greater Made-on-Luna "MUS/cle" content, also serves in Prinzton's Village Homes.
7-NON SELF-MANUFACTURED GOODS: For those needed and desired items Prinztonians need but are not yet capable of providing for themselves, the "MUS/cle" formula is again part of the answer. But substituting metal, glass, Glax* [composites], and ceramics wherever possible for wood and plastics, and doing without wherever this is impractical must be Plan A. Mail order catalogs from Earth will be taboo and instead items from the hands of local artists and ctaftsmen will be treasured. A paperless all-electronic society will be a top priority goal. [SASE Reprint: "Paper Chase", MMM # 4 April 1987]
B-Strategies to Lower Import Costs and/or Increase Import Quantities.
1-ALTERNATE SOURCES: Prinzton will need to import considerable quantities of hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen, most easily handled in the form of methane CH4 and ammonia NH3. Discounting the amortizable capital costs of emplacing the needed equipment, these volatiles can be shipped at a fraction of the total fuel cost, from Phobos or Deimos, moons of Mars, at regular 26 month intervals. Such shallower gravity well sources also include occasional catch-as-catch-can Earth-approaching asteroids, comets, and wildcat-worthy inactive comet-hulks. The Moon's deficiency is the Solar System's gain. For settlers will have a do-or-die urgency in pioneering such markets.
2-LOWERING COST-OFF-EARTH will be above all a matter of developing (at last!) more economical surface-to-orbit launch systems. But our crafty settlers will also attempt to lower prices FOB Earth by buying goods on favorable terms Solar Power Satellite customer nations.
3-LOWERING COST-ONTO-MOON. Unlike both Earth and Mars, the Moon has no handy atmosphere to allow aerobrake assistance. But there are other more inventive alternatives to full retrobraking. These include skid-landing on prepared regolith smoothways. [SEE Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century, W.W. Mendell Editor, Lunar & Planetary Institute, Houston 1985 pp. 848-50 "The Lunar Slide Lander" by Kraft A. Ehricke] and the "Edportation" scheme of Chicago inventor Ed Marwick. Passengers may not line up for such wild rides, but drone "sliders" could bring in needed bulk materials and other hardy cargoes.
C-LUNAR EXPORT CATEGORIES
1-Bulk Materials: Liquid Oxygen; Regolith for shielding; Enriched ores for space processing.
2-Oxygen containing products such as Water and Foodstuffs cheaper than from Earth even if they contain terrestrial Hydrogen and Carbon.
3-Building materials and components: Iron and Steel; Aluminum, Titanium, Magnesium alloy; Glass and Glass-Glass Composites; Ceramics & Concrete.
4-Items manufactured on the Moon to cut imports are also marketable to LEO, GEO, L5, Mars Ph/D (Phobos, Deimos): Furniture and furnishings; Tanks, Holds, Appliance Cases, other items.
Low Earth orbit Space Stations and other manned facilities, Space Colony Oases at L4/L5 or in other orbits, and Mars-bound expeditions are all Markets for Lunar Lox, Food, Water, building materials products, and sundry finished goods all Lunar or MUS/cle assembly). Geosynchronous orbit is a destination for large multi-satellite capacity platforms and Solar Power Satellites.
E-Strategies to increase Exports
1-LOWERING EXPORT LAUNCH & DELIVERY COSTS: Mass Drivers, Bucket, and Pods should be upgraded to launch more profitable VALUE-ADDED GOODS. 1st Upgrade: enriched beneficiated ores: Fe, FeO, TiO, Al203, CaO, MgO, SiO; Batch-loads of glass matrix, glass fiber, and cement. 2nd Upgrade: right-sized ingots: Fe, Al, Ti, Mg. 3rd Upgrade: shock-proofed pods of small manufactured parts. In addition, goods bound for Earth's surface could be shipped in no-transfer self-contained Earth-aerobrake-and-Land "dynasoar" capsules.
2-INCREASlNG MARKET DEMAND: Liquid Oxygen: Would-be Prinztonians should push development of "Stage Plus" Earth Deep-Space Launchers designed for on-orbit LOX refueling. Food deliveries to LEO stations and other space locales, will depend on selection, delivery, and marketing.
Building Materials: Lunar Owned Space Architecture and Space Construction Firms will channel a greater share of space construction profits back to the Settlement. PROMOTION of the 1/6th G lunar Gravity as a Standard for rotating space structures will mean quicker more frequent sales because the rotation rate linked minimum size and mass of such structures will be an order of magnitude smaller, a more attainable threshold.
Prinzton made Consumer Goods can be promoted along with Lunar-type material culture in general as the appropriate norm for near Earth facilities in the era of still expensive volatiles. Such goods involve material substitutions and a high profile for Art/Craft made wares.
Promotion of the Moon as the "Hub" of the ETM (extra-terrestrial materials) economy will be an essential settler policy. Their do-or-die motivation and proven know-how will drive Lunar-initiated market development of Mars and its moons, and of the Asteroids. Key here may be the development of Minimal Mobile Biospheres. The larger deep-space long-cruising vessels have to be to hold self-contained mini-biospheres, the greater the obstacle to opening the asteroids.
3-MARKET TARGETING: Logical Earth Trading Partners for Prinzton are those nations which are at once Energy Importing Countries (Solar Power Satellite sales, Helium-3 sales) and also sources of elements not economically Lunar-sourceable yet strategic to Prinzton development. Many of these countries are in the Urban Tropics.
4-MAXIMIZING TOURIST INCOME. The lure to well-heeled sightseers can be intensified in several ways. A carefully drawn up and publicized "Seven Wonders" list and a variety of enticing itineraries will encourage repeat trips or at least longer stays. In addition, visitors can be offered special ways to taste the settler way of life: Stays in lunar homes, working tours, Art & Craft classes, special tours e.g. of factories and recycling systems, and the opportunity to actually participate in unique Lunan sports. Customs regulations can entice tourists to trade all their Earth garb (for Lunar Stage/Theater Use) in exchange for souvenir Made-on-Luna apparel. Tours should include shopping sprees for unique arts, craft, and clothing pieces at the Settlements cottage industry flea markets.
5-TELEVISION & FILM MEDIA SALES (Ad Revenues) could be appreciable enough to wholly finance the development of Unique Lunan Spectator Sports and construction of the facilities they require. The same goes for the "ethereal" Prinzton Ballet Company, probably awaiting the coming of age of the first native-born generation. Documentaries about Prinzton and Lunar activities at large will vie with space adventure films for the use of the Out Of This World film studio in Prinzton.
6-EXPORTING KNOW-HOW: technology transfer is a potential moneymaker for Prinzton. Hopefully much of the technology needed to make Prinzton a thriving reality will have been pre-developed for profitable terrestrial applications and thus served to keep Prinzton's up front costs far lower than they otherwise could be. But enterprising young Prinztonians will develop new products and processes salable Greenside. P. Kokh
PORT NIMBY: Import/Export $leeper.
Peter Kokh, David Dunlop
Gross Imports that Could Count as Net Exports.
IMPORTING FOR DIRECT PROFITS may seem like a Cinderella idea. Prinzton already works toward overall net profits by putting major emphasis on importing CAPITAL EQUIPMENT to help both lessen the need of further imports and increase exports by enabling ever more local processing and manufacturing MUS/CLE; and CO-IMPORTATION by clever choice of TARE materials. [ace page 3 A.1.,5.]
Every Trade Czar's fairy tale dream, however, is to BE PAID FOR the imports one's people need, rather than paying for them. Simply put, this means agreeing to take something unwanted-with-desperation off the hands (and minds) of some other bailiwick. Highly Toxic Chemical Wastes, Virulent Biological Wastes, Radioactive Wastes - might all fit this description.
"Not In My Back Yard" - "N.I.M.B.Y." - is the classic universal reaction to these leprous byproducts of today's advanced technology. In recent years, the unwelcome reality that every where on Earth is someone's back yard, is slowly sinking into the public consciousness. Governments continue to search for cost-effective-yet-safe ways to store or neutralize such techno-feces but it seems to be a hopelessly intractable problem. Promising solutions emerge only to be found fraught with fatal flaws.
Perhaps we need only be patient and elegantly "safe-yet-cheap" solutions will present themselves. But perhaps not. Meanwhile, problem wastes will keep on accumulating at an alarming rate so long as we do not wish to face the fact that those desirable materials that involve such byproducts may not be worth the ultimate cost.
Ahah! You say! "Space to the rescue!" Several space-involving solutions to this runaway problem have been proposed. (a) Let's move the offensive Chemical Processing and Biological Engineering Plants to LEO, low Earth orbit, where wastes can be dumped harmlessly in space. Alas, we are now learning, LEO is a very temporary place and everything parked there will eventually find a way back into the atmosphere. We must go well out, beyond the Van Alien Belts, to a realm ruled by the Solar Wind rather than by tenuous tentacles of our atmosphere. GEO, the Earth-synchronous orbit that is home to most communications and weather satellites, will do, as will the L4/L5 Earth-Moon libration points, or high-perigee Earth-Moon resonant orbits. The Solar Wind would carry offensive exhausts well beyond the outermost planets. (Heliopause smog?)
(b) "Dump the stuff into the Sun" seems the ultimate solution to those blissfully unmindful of common orbital mechanics facts-of-life. Of all space solutions proposed this is surely the most outrageously expensive in "Delta V" i.e. fuel expenditure requirements. First our skull-and-crossbones payload must be accelerated to some 25,000 mph just to reach the shoulder of Earth's gravity well. Then it must shed All of Earth's forward orbital speed, another 66,000 mph worth of velocity change. A short burn, short by ANY amount, would result in a highly elliptical orbit, bringing our "Flying Dutchman" alternately in towards the Sun and back out to Earth's orbit. In contrast, it would be far cheaper, in terms of fuel cost, to catapult this dreaded stuff in the other direction, out of the Solar System altogether. Another cheaper possibility would be to shoot for the all-engulfing depths of mighty Jupiter, as we hope to do with part of the Galileo probe in December, 1995.
(c) An even less expensive option than feeding the Sun, Jupiter, or the interstellar dust and gas clouds, is available to some future Dreaded Wastes Authority. We could rocket our nasty stuff into simple Solar Orbit, tele-open the canisters, and let the Solar Wind provide the Delta V, gently but inexorably blowing the stuff out of the System.
But all of the above suggestions choose to ignore the old saw that "one person's trash is another person's treasure". All three of the problem waste categories we are discussing, ARE PROBLEMS BECAUSE OF the over-context of Earth's Active Geology and Encompassing Biosphere. This given geo-context renders inherently dangerous any and all methods of value recovery by incineration, distillation, electrolysis, precipitation, or whatever. Take the stuff out of this context and the entire situation has changed. Toxicity = toxicity TO something. Absent one of the two terms (biosphere) and it becomes totally illegitimate to continue to call the substances in question "toxic". Now, in this changed situation, we can talk possibilities fruitfully!
The next step is to determine where these troublesome wastes might have salvage value. You guessed it! - to SETTLERS on our volatiles-impoverished Moon! To illustrate the potential of this Lunar Solution, we included PORT NIMBY on the periphery of the Prinzton Settlement Site. [map] However, our settlers could afford to pay to import such tainted volatile-rich (hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen plus extras) shipments only if they were subsidized by desperate terrestrial authorities TO THE POINT THAT they would be markedly cheaper than the alternative Phobos-Moon "pipeline", with the much greater cost AND difficulty of clean processing of the Nimby hot stuff. Of course, if the shipments were free, FOB Port Nimby, that would be ideal. That is unlikely, however, as one could expect custodial authorities on Earth to foot the bill to toss the stuff out of Earth's gravity- well but not the additional cost of soft-landing it on the Moon. Free "FOB L1", on the hub between the Earth's and the Moon's gravity wells, is about all our settlers can realistically expect.
Biosphere discontinuity (the extremely hard vacuum and the total absence of ground water) between Prinzton and Port Nimby is what makes such an option many orders of magnitude safer than the most ideal of storage-on-Earth schemes. Storage in lava tube sections, which have to date survived intact for nearly 4 billion years, leaves NO RATIONAL basis for qualms of INFORMED conscience. This is NOT case of disrespect for the Moon, anymore than it would be for the Sun. Again, toxics are not disrespectful to the Earth GEO-logically considered, but only BIO-logically considered. That is, they disrespect GAIA (the new name for Earth's biosphere) NOT Earth itself. In contrast the Moon has no biosphere WHATSOEVER, and the totally encapsulated mini-biospheres that we will establish there, can be EASILY kept rigorously isolated.
Much of the salvage processing of these "profitable imports" could be done robotically and/or by teleoperation from the safety of isolated bunkers. The prizes to be gained are recovered water and carbon dioxide, and possibly feedstocks for production of those synthetics for which the settlers are not able to make inorganic substitutes, or reasonably do without. They might also "mine" the ash for heavy and precious metals. Special "designer" bacteria night be of help in the process, though the sheer variety and probable careless premixing of wastes Earthside would tend to make this impractical as a general approach.
It is possible, of course, that we will develop safe methods of detoxifying such wastes on Earth and/or quit producing them in the first place. The point may never be reached where the lunar solution becomes economically attractive. A lot depends on when and if transport costs come down substantially.
What about Highly Radioactive Wastes? This is a considerably more stubborn problem. NO storage site on the geologically active Earth can be safe for the full length of time needed, excepting possibly the deep-INJECTION of such "hot" wastes into active subduction zones, for example where the Pacific plate is slowly diving under the advancing North and South American continental plates. By the time, if ever, such dumpings reemerged up some volcanic throat after tens or hundreds of millions of years of mixing with molten magma deep below the crust, no problem would remain. If that solution remains an impractical dream, then the intractability of the problem could make the "lunar" option very attractive.
But how would settlers put such shipments to use? Perhaps they could be densified by distillation into significantly hotter concentrations, useful for generating Nighttime Power. They would have been reclassified from "fuel" to "waste" when the power density they support fell below a certain level economically useful for the competitive generating stations on Earth. Yet they might still yield economical power in the quite different lunar economic environment.
Any water in which these hot shipments are stored for shipment, once repurified, would be a very welcome "free" addition to the settlement's reserves. Further, radioactive wastes might also come in very handy for maintaining thermal equilibrium for the settlement. And the temperatures generated might allow continued nighttime operations of some industries using concentrated solar heat by day such as glass and ceramics production and other "lifeblood" enterprises.
There are a lot of ifs that we cannot honestly resolve here in 1990, and even if the economics became "right", there will be a host of public misconceptions to overcome. But possibly such "wastes" will be the first "treasures" imported by some Port "N.I.M.B.Y." on the Moon.
DIVERSIFICATION $UB$IDIE$+ EXPORT$
We have outlined a very ambitious picture of what a mature Prinzton economy might look like. But what is the logical order in which such a well-rounded economy might be best achieved? Diversification, will in part depend on a number of things we cannot accurately forecast at this time: cost per pound Earth to LEO, LEO to Moon; Size of the LEO market for Lox, Building Materials, other Manufactured and Processed Goods; Progress in opening Phobos/Deimos; etc. But different scenarios can be plotted assuming various rates for these unknowns.
We CAN list some very pertinent questions, however. Their answers will greatly affect the strategy and game plan chosen. For each industry proposed for Prinzton we will want to know the following:
- (1) What is industry's capacity to GENERATE EXPORT tonnage:
( ) Major, ( ) Medium, ( ) Minor?
- (2) What is the industry's capacity to DEFRAY IMPORT tonnage:
( ) Major, ( ) Medium, ( ) Minor?
- (3) What is the export VALUE-ADDED per ton:
( ) Major, ( ) Medium, ( ) Minor, ( ) None?
- (4) To what degree is the industry labor intensive:
( ) Major, ( ) Medium, ( ) Minor?
- (5) To what degree is the industry energy intensive:
( ) Major, ( ) Medium, ( ) Minor?
- (6) What is the industry's pressurized acreage need:
( ) Major, ( ) Medium, ( ) Minor
- (7) How well can the industry's operations be separated into successive diurnal energy-intensive vs nocturnal labor-intensive portions:
( ) Good, ( ) Medium, ( ) Poor?
- (8) How much heat is needed for operation:
( ) Low. ( ) Medium, ( ) High?
- (9) How much heat is generated by operation:
( ) Low. ( ) Medium, ( ) High?
- (10) What is the industry's need for vacuum:
( ) None, ( ) Partial, ( ) Total
- (11) Portion of chemical reagents needed that can be recycled:
( ) None, ( ) Part, ( ) All?
- (12) Can the industry be set up in modular units? Import tonnage of the initial module? Can MUS/cle co-manufacturing savings be applied to added modules? Ease of increasing capacity?
- (13) What prior industries are presupposed: needing prior material byproducts?; needing prior processing capacities?
- (14) What subsequent industries are enabled: By new byproducts generated?; By new processing capacities offered?
- (15) How ready-to-go is the technology needed for operation in Lunar conditions:
( ) Not at all ( ) Somewhat ( ) Almost ( ) Let her rip?
Once we've done our homework on these and similarly relevant questions, we will be ready to begin discussing long-term Lunar Industrialization plans seriously.
PART VI - The Import-Export EquationBack to LRS/MMM Papers