PROJECT RAMA: TURNING ASTEROIDS INTO SPACESHIPS

PROJECT RAMA: TURNING ASTEROIDS INTO SPACESHIPS

I couldn't resist this story, even though this week has been largely taken up with geopolitical news. It was shared by Ms. M.W. and it's an example of the ssort of dreaming that is now taking place for the commercialization of space:

Plan to Turn Asteroids Into Spaceships Could Spur Off-Earth Mining

Note first of all that this is a serious plan beiing funded by a NASA grant:

A few decades from now, asteroids may be flying themselves to mining outposts in space, nobly sacrificing their abundant resources to help open the final frontier to humanity.

That's the vision of California-based company Made In Space, which was recently awarded NASA funding to investigate how to turn asteroids into giant, autonomous spacecraft.

The project, known as RAMA (Reconstituting Asteroids into Mechanical Automata), is part of Made In Space's long-term plan to enable space colonization by helping make off-Earth manufacturing efficient and economically viable. [How Asteroid Mining Could Work (Infographic)]

Arthur C. Clark fans will at least appreciate the reference to his RAMA series of science fiction novels. But now note what the project supposedly involves:

Made In Space's idea involves sending an advanced, robotic "Seed Craft" out to rendezvous with a succession of near-Earth asteroids in space.

The Seed Craft would harvest material from the space rocks, then use this feedstock to construct propulsion, navigation, energy-storage and other key systems onsite with the aid of 3D printing and other technologies. (Made In Space has considerable 3D-printing expertise; the company built the two 3D printers that were installed aboard the International Space Station in the past year and a half.)

Thus transformed into autonomous spacecraft, the asteroids could be programmed to fly to a mining station in Earth-moon space, or anywhere else they were needed. This approach would be much more efficient than launching a new capture probe (or probes) to every single space rock targeted for resource exploitation, Made In Space representatives said.

The converted asteroids wouldn't resemble the traditional idea of spacecraft, with rocket engines and complex electronic circuitry. Rather, everything would be mechanical and relatively primitive.

For example, the computer would be analog, akin, perhaps, to the Antikythera mechanism invented by the ancient Greeks to chart the motion of heavenly bodies, Dunn said. And the propulsion system might be some sort of catapult that launches boulders or other material off the asteroid in a controlled way, thereby pushing the space rock in the opposite direction (as described by Newton's Third Law of Motion), he added.

"At the end of the day, the thing that we want the asteroid to be is technology that has existed for a long time. The question is, 'Can we convert an asteroid into that technology at some point in the future?'" Dunn said. "We think the answer is yes."

In short, it's an example of "living off the land," space-style:

Still, making it happen will require significant advances in a number of areas, including in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) — the art of living off the land.

Three things intrigue me here, about the direction things seem to be taking: (1) the use of robots for first installation construction and (2) tthe use of "catapults" for simple propulsion mechanisms, and (3) the use of asteroids themselves  as spaceships.

These three topics bring me to my high octane speculation of the day, for I cannot help but think that while the project's directors themselves may be thinking in relatively primitive terms, that NASA and the various echelons of the American deep state are not, and that they may be taking the scaffolding of such proojects and studies, and grafting entirely different ideas on them.  Here's why: consider first the case of robots. There has been, ever since Eric Drexlers Engines of Creation which first familiarized the general public to nano-technology, to nano robots, the idea of engineering machines from the "ground up" as it were, molecule by molcecule. This would allow precision machining of a variety we could only dream of. Imagine nano-robots building a sophisticated living space and spaceship, in addition to being used for the actual processes of asteroid mining itself. This brings us to the second idea, robots, and propulsion. Imagine, for a moment, the use of nano-robots for the actual harvesting of resources for the creation of fuel for rockets, or even for more sophisticated types of reaction-propulsions systems.

Thus we arrive at the third component: the use of asteroids themselves as spaceships. I'm intrigued by the notion, not only from the standpoint of cost effectiveness, but other possible motivations for the idea. Cost effectiveness is a rather obvious consideration: why build an emmense space ship, when one can simply hollow out a micro-planet, fasten an engine to it, and have a rather large spaceship with a nice protective shell? Indeed, the idea has some precedent within serious scientific circles, ever since Russian astronomer Schklovskii proposed that the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos might be such objects. The idea gained traction, you'll recall, when the European Space Agency did radar tomography of the inside of Phobos and found what were apparently two large interior chambers, and that the Martian satellite was "outgassing." This led Richard C. Hoagland to argue and speculate that one might indeed be looking at some form of ancient spaceship. With Project RAMA, the idea seems to have some corroboration.

But my high octane speculations do not end here, for there might be other motivations for the idea. Indeed, we've seen news recently about aspects of the Russian asteroid detection system coming on line, and various proposals for asteroid defence, including the idea of "nudging" asteroids out of any potentially harmful orbit with the Earth, and this project would certainly be adaptable to that use. But there's another possibility that all this suggests too. Destroying asteroids is a difficult proposition, and hence, the idea of using asteroids may also have an unstated and implicit defensive or military purpose. After all, destroying a big rock would be more difficult than destroying a big(and much more expensive) large annd commpletely artificial spaceship.

And that, of course, raises the question of "defending against whom"?

See you on the flip side...

14 thoughts on “PROJECT RAMA: TURNING ASTEROIDS INTO SPACESHIPS”

  1. That company already has trademarked the phrase “made in space,” which is an interesting bit of market-leading.

    A couple of sci-fi links come to mind:

    A short story in Analog where an independent asteroid hunter stumbles upon a highly advanced ET craft disguised as an asteroid for one. I believe that the point was made there about the natural camouflage factor.

    In several SG-1 episodes, it is remarked that building underground is much safer in dealing with ET threats. In SG Atlantis, the entire city can submerge into the ocean it floats on for protection and avoiding detection.

    In my own musings about “imaginary craft” for fiction stories I have written (or am writing currently), the idea of using a small moon or asteroid for the basis of a vehicle has always been appealing. Even terrestrially, a vehicle disguised as a large rock could be easily hidden in plain sight nearly anywhere (and might already be . . . ).

    At least one Star Trek NG episode had Federation scientists hiding in an outpost disguised as part of a mountain to “observe” the natives without “interfering” with them.

    And let us not forget the “chameleon circuit” in the Doctor’s TARDIS, which allows it to be disguised as anything . . . .

    I think your speculation that things are much further along then we are being told is spot on. This theme of “limited disclosure” of technology is a primary theme in SG-1.

    Take a look at Boston Dynamics’ latest videos about their quadruped robot. It has progressed remarkably in the last year or two. Add that to the advances we are being shown about drone (even in swarms) control, and robots taking over manual labor (and even more), AND the story coming out of Europe where they want to charge Social Security to working robots and declare them as “robotic persons,” and I think we are seeing a move to automate ALL of society, removing us pesky commoners for good. Heck, their computerized financial systems will work just as well as simulations as do the real systems (as long as they don’t use Windows . . . ). Most financial value is ephemeral already.

    No more meat machines! The oligarchs will be ecstatic (right up to the point where their society collapses due to lack of creativity and adaptability – which is the inevitable result – games always deteriorate into boredom and stagnation).

    Sim City for real on a global scale – or at least off planet for now.

    They won’t need living slaves (pesky critters that they are), they will have their robot slaves, which will have an “off” switch.

  2. Now that’s far out!
    Just sprinkle your specialized space-asteroid nano-dust on select6ed space rock and get your nano-engineered ship to-specs in the pre-scripted time specified.
    Loose or disabled ship. Just dust-off a new one of your choice.

  3. Nothing new I think these ideas goes back to the nineteen twenties of the last century. And has been a meme of science fiction in numerous books and films, television. And yes these celestial objects would be perfect cover for weapons of war.

  4. If you’re planning long term, with permanent mining operations, you wouldn’t need anything to exotic. You would just nudge the rock you intend to mine into a spiraling orbit to be captured at the receiving end and moved into the facility, then you would move to the next rock and wash, rinse, repeat. This would insure a steady stream of resource materials arriving at the facility with little cost. You would then remove your main engine and the required thrusters for maneuverability and transport them to their new target. All of this could be relatively automated using small, low cost devices. You might need a crew scouring the target area for high yield rocks, you might not.
    Of course, these could also be weaponized in the same manner giving a believable plausible deniability to such weaponization. It would be rather difficult to spot incoming weapons of this nature given the vastness of space and the small size of the kinetic weapon. It could easily be passed off and an “act of God” (quite useful actually if your planning some type of “end times” scenario to bring in your NWO). Indeed, such bombardment is mentioned in ancient texts; so the idea isn’t new or all that novel.
    As others have noted, if the mainstream is considering it, it most likely has already been considered, researched, developed, and deployed.

    1. WalkingDead, you just saved me a lot of typing. Couldn’t agree more. All it takes is a long-term view. What we could have done with all the resources diverted to wars…

      These ideas are all known to SF writers. There is a short story in the July/August 2016 “Analog” SF magazine about various asteroid mining colonies conducting covert warfare (amongst each other) of just this type. Your competitor miners might have a bad day with ‘random fragments’ coming-in at huge collision velocities. Plausible deniability…

  5. The “the sparrow”.

    Also, what about attaching an EM Drive to an asteroid, hollowing it out, and using it as a spaceship. Our own solar system has a number of suspiciously machined looking asteroids.

    It provides tthe perfect protection against micrometeorites… Also EM Drives would enable interstellar projects by consuming the asteroid for resources.

    1. Of course, the exotic but already existing & acknowledged propulsion systems discussed at the Secret Space Program Conference would probably better than slingshotting big rocks into space. Otherwise, Netanyahu might get some ideas about a “2-planet solution” and “PPP” (Palestinian Powered Propulsion) for asteroids — intifada style. ;-).

  6. I wonder how fast you could propel a space craft using a high caliber machine gun? After maxing out in speed with each single shot would you continue to travel faster and faster or would there be a maximum velocity where the next shot wouldn’t speed you up anymore? Who would have thought the perfect fuel and most efficient propulsion system might be firing off high velocity rounds with big machine guns in space.

    1. Tried to google information on the thrust obtained from firing guns in space but it appears this info is classified.

      1. Thanks for the website. I look forward to studying their info. I’ve been thinking of writing a Syfy novel and this site might prove handy for that as well. I have a theme I would like to explore in a novel about tapping into a theoretical super conducting energy field to super conduct from place to place throughout the galaxy and possible Universe using resonance to tap into this underlying field.

  7. As always, if they are talking about it…one wonders just how far they have already taken it. One notes the sudden increase in foreign bodies streaming our way. Are these some of the “catapulted” items propelling asteroid/rockets in the other direction? Enquiring minds want to KNOW! 🙂

    1. As per U.S. & other intel boys & girls (and Ben Rich), Star-Trek-type tech is already our reality — albeit unacknowledged.

      U.S. Navy whistleblower William Tompkins claims — with documentation — that he debriefed Germans, Nazis & spies on German cooperation with non-terrestrials on such exotic tech (before & during WW2), then fed such tech plans to U.S. defense corporations. Corso & Birnes’ “Day after Roswell” on steroids.

      Other whistleblowers make more far reaching claims. Since the Tompkins claims come with some documentation, Joseph may be interested… ;-).

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