Friday, 18 November 2011

The Next Frontier?

Isaac Asimov visits the first L5 space colony in 2026.

I remember when the idea for these had a vogue in the 1970s.  Then and now it struck me that the whole project was a classic example of brilliant engineering combined with wild optimism and no understanding of economics.  It's like living on an aircraft carrier and never being allowed to go on deck.

Or worse, a small university campus that you can never escape from.  My personal vision of Hell.

1 comment:

eon said...

I was always fascinated by the concept that Gerard O'Neill and his disciples thought putting a large, complex, and fragile megastructure in a Lagrangian point- any Lagrangian point- was a good idea.

Considering that L-points, especially the leading and trailing ones (L1 and L5), in any orbit are gravitational "sumps" that attract all sorts of debris, notably asteroidal types, putting the equivalent of a pressurized Arcosanti On Steroids smack in the middle of same makes about as much sense as Daffy Duck standing right in front of Elmer Fudd's shotgun. At this sort of "range", even Elmer couldn't miss.

Even if the colony didn't end up looking like the aforementioned perforated dumb duck, the accretion of dust alone would destabilize its climate control (waste heat dispersion)within a few weeks at most. To say nothing of what a coat of asteroidal dust would do to the efficiency of the O'Neill-idealized solar "wings" that were supposed to power the whole thing.

When you consider that for the cost, complexity, and logistics problems of a single "L5", you could carry out a Lunar colonization on Arthur C. Clarke and R.A. Smith levels in toto, the "L5" concept becomes a classic example of an answer to a question nobody with an ounce of sense would ask in the first place.