June 16th this year was the 10 year anniversary of starting Selenian Boondocks. It’s been a great 10 years. We’ve had a lot of good contributors, including myself, Ken Murphy, Kirk Sorensen, and last but definitely not least, John Hare. We’ve discussed a lot of fun topics. We’ve even started, built, or perpetuated several space policy or technology memes. And we’ve had a lot of fun without taking ourselves too seriously along the way.
In celebration of this anniversary, we did a blog post a day over the past month. In a way that was unintentionally “meta”, this started out with me blogging up a storm, and then when my life got too busy for a few days (I’ve been on a family vacation in Yellowstone and the Pacific Northwest), John Hare picked up the slack with several days of his blog posts.
Tonight I just wanted to post links to several of my favorite Selenian Boondocks posts or series from over the years. This is far from an exhaustive list, but these are the blog posts I think of the most when I think of what we’ve done over the years.
- Orbital Access Methodologies: This was probably our most popular blog series, where I discussed a range of approaches for doing reusable launch vehicles, including Air-launched SSTOs (ala Dan DeLong’s Orbital Spaceplane), and a range of various TSTO options including “pop-up TSTO” (ala The Rocket Company or many of John Carmack’s old concepts), “glideback TSTO“, and my two current favorites: “Boostback TSTO” (similar to what SpaceX is trying to do with F9R, and what Masten, Blue Origin, and several others have looked at for reusable orbital vehicles), and “Air-Launched Glide-Forward TSTO” (first suggested to me by John Hare, and then expanded upon in my still uncompleted Boomerang TSTO RLV series).
- Venus ISRU Series: This was another popular series, which is also unfinished. Venus just doesn’t get much love in space settlement circles, and this series was my attempt at trying to discuss the potential of Venus as a destination for human settlement. My favorite posts in this series were: this post where I describe what materials we have to work with, Venusian Rocket Floaties where I discuss the counterintuitive realization that most rockets would actually float like dirigibles in the Venusian atmosphere, these two posts describing ways of extracting and separating condenseable species and gas-phase species from the Venusian atmosphere, and one of my all-time favorite humor posts about Venusian Acid-Cooked Turkeys (thanks to George Turner for restoring some faith in the value of having a comments section).
- xGRF (Variable Gravity Research Facility) Series: This was a series of posts discussing what I still think is the best approach to answering the question of how much gravity humans need to live and thrive. The first post describes the concept (initially conceived by coblogger Kirk Sorensen, while he was at NASA). The latter two posts describe ideas for how to implement this for less cost using commercial crew assets such as Dragon V2, and how to retire technical risk for the tether portions of the concept using a series of low-cost cubesats. I’ve been coming around to the idea that something like Cygnus might be a better platform–I think the key to making this happen though is finding some way to do this experiment for low 8-digit costs, leveraging ISS assets without unduly impeding other research on ISS.
- RLV Markets: Another uncompleted series about different aspects of markets for low-cost RLVs, and how they might differ from the markets for ELVs.
- My Top 10 Technologies for a Spacefaring Civilization I still agree pretty strongly with most of these items.
A few other more minor posts of mine that I think are still interesting (I could probably list 20-30 of these, but will only list a few):
- My “Transitions” blog post about having formally taken the plunge to start my own space company–Altius Space Machines. My blogging has never fully recovered from that decision, but I’m still glad I made it.
- Blog posts on subeconomic resources and how they transition into becoming economic.
- Top 10 Reasons Why Something ARM-Like Is Worth Doing
- One of my posts where I point out that safety probably shouldn’t be the first priority for Commercial Crew–I can’t remember if this was the one that got Rand to write his book on “Safe is not an Option.”
- Thrust Augmented Nozzles–a cool technology that Aerojet hasn’t done much with since I wrote about it. If someone ever makes a useful SSTO RLV, it’ll probably be using some variant on this technology. The good news is that if Aerojet doesn’t do anything with the technology, the patents on it run out in another 5-6 years.
- A post discussing the importance of technology maturation funding before the mission architecture has been laid out. Waiting until after you’ve picked the mission architecture to start spending on applied technology maturation efforts is often too little, too late if you want to avoid massive cost overruns.
- My favorite concept for an exploration-class propellant depot that doesn’t require a ton of on-orbit assembly.
- A blog post about my stance on the Iraq War (based on pre-Selenian Boondocks “proto-blog” posts I wrote in 2003) at the time it started.
- A post about the role of faith in entrepreneurship and really any other human endeavor for that matter.
Sorry if that list is almost entirely my own posts. John, Kirk and Ken have all done many great posts, I just have an easier time remembering my own posts. In the comments, I’d love to see recommendations for other good posts we’ve done, including ones done by John, Kirk, and Ken Murphy.
Looking forward to continuing interesting discussions during the second 10 years of Selenian Boondocks!