atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#909: Nuts and bolts

Liberals are crazy. I don't know, but it's an entertaining thought.

* * *

I support drilling on Titan.

Titan, one of Saturn's moons, "...has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth...." In other words, if we run out of oil here on Earth (which I'm thinking won't happen) we can just go to Titan with some space-tankers, load 'em up, and go to town.

...granted there are a few minor engineering hurdles to be surmounted: how we build ships capable of going to Saturn when we haven't even gotten to Mars yet, for example, or how one puts an economically viable amount of hydrocarbon into orbit around one of the largest moons in the solar system when the best rocket the US has can't lift more than 20 tons at a time.

Still, these are engineering problems--we don't need any new science or technology to deal with them. And there's the little matter of having the will to go mine Titan for hydrocarbons. But there's no reason we can't if we really want to.

...of course, if we do that, we'll have all the eco-morons complaining that we're "destroying the fragile Titanian (?) ecosystem". The same pantywaists who will worry about the Moon when we're exploiting it, and Mars when we're terraforming it, will cry and moan about how we don't have the right to "destroy" Titan.


Titan's gravity is low enough that we ought to be able to build a space elevator there using materials we can make right now, though. So I'm thinking we'd have giant inflatable ships with ion thrusters and autopilots. A ship flies itself from Earth orbit to Titan, where a pilot steps aboard and docks it with the elevator's upper terminal. There'd be some kind of conveyor system--tanks which act like buckets, hauling the desired HC fractions up the cable to the top. (There'd be mines on the surface, probably remote-controlled.) The HCs are allowed to fill the tanker ships, and then the tankers are undocked and put into a departure orbit. Autopilots set, they'd lazily ply the maximum-economy orbits between Earth and Saturn, as continuous a chain of ships as orbital mechanics would allow. The HC would freeze solid while in transit; micrometeor impacts probably wouldn't be an issue. The inflatable tanks would be compartmented, even so.

But the HCs would be too valuable to burn as fuel; WTF, you think we're crazy? We need that stuff to make plastic and do other useful things in orbit. Those ships aren't going to build themselves and we'll need a lot of HC to make those inflatable fuel tanks. Besides, we'll be doing other interesting things while all this is going on--the infrastructure we need to mine Titan for HC can be used for a host of other interesting and highly lucrative projects. Once we have a comfortable amount of tankers in the pipeline, we will find ways to use this bounty of organic chemicals--believe me--for other purposes.

Honestly, every time I learn something new about the vast resources of the solar system, it makes me want to jump up and down and shout at people: IT IS RAINING SOUP AND YOU'RE TOO STUPID TO GO FETCH A BUCKET!

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