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Off-planet manufacturing (split from SpaceX)


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38 minutes ago, StrandedonEarth said:

It seems that zero-gee manufacturing is closer than we think.... https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2021/09/varda-space-manufacturing/. The plan is to use ISS-proven modules supported by a RocketLab  Photon bus

This kind of falls into the 'cool but impractical' category. 

Bulk fiber optic cable, 1,000 foot spool weighs 35 pounds and costs ~ $835.  

https://www.cablewholesale.com/products/fiber-optic/bulk-fiber/product-11f3-312nh.php

The 3 modules (Command, manufacturer and reentry) combined weigh just 120 kg (~265 lbs).  Let's graciously say that the reentry module can descend approximately 1/2 the total weight as finished product - you are looking at only 4 thousand - foot spools per descent. 

Total launch costs would have to be less than $2,000 per mission to have any chance of selling the product at any profit. 

So we are, again, looking at an experiment or proof of concept rather than any possible, profitable production technology. 

Edited by JoeSchmuckatelli
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26 minutes ago, JoeSchmuckatelli said:

This kind of falls into the 'cool but impractical' category. 

Bulk fiber optic cable, 1,000 foot spool weighs 35 pounds and costs ~ $835.  

https://www.cablewholesale.com/products/fiber-optic/bulk-fiber/product-11f3-312nh.php

The 3 modules (Command, manufacturer and reentry) combined weigh just 120 kg (~265 lbs).  Let's graciously say that the reentry module can descend approximately 1/2 the total weight as finished product - you are looking at only 4 thousand - foot spools per descent. 

Total launch costs would have to be less than $2,000 per mission to have any chance of selling the product at any profit. 

So we are, again, looking at an experiment or proof of concept rather than any possible, profitable production technology. 

The concept was proven aboard ISS. This is more advancing the concept than commercial production, but this isn't your garden-variety bulk fiber either. This is high performance stuff, worth a premium price. 

Oh, and that bulk fiber data is for install ready jacketed fiber. What percentage of mass is the sheathing? They'll only be making pure fiber up there, sheathing will be added on the ground (if needed, depending on application, I suppose). At least that would be the logical assumption. I can't seem to Google up the mass/meter of just the fiber, but I'm guessing much less than a tenth of the mass of a cable, never mind the mass of the much-larger commercial spool. That changes your numbers considerably.

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55 minutes ago, StrandedonEarth said:

changes your numbers considerably

Yeah - if what we are talking about is just fiber and not sheathing - that's quite a bit more. 

(however, still not significant) 

So presuming the quality is sufficient to make it desirable - we are still talking about short runs - single center uses, or possibly adjacent center links - but not city to city. 

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2 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

Silkworms.

The Chinese station should herd them and weave the inflatable silk modules, chutes, and maybe even a space lift.

Kublai does not approve of the export of silk worms 

Penalties are stiff 

Edited by JoeSchmuckatelli
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On 9/26/2021 at 6:13 PM, StrandedonEarth said:

The concept was proven aboard ISS. This is more advancing the concept than commercial production, but this isn't your garden-variety bulk fiber either. This is high performance stuff, worth a premium price. 

Oh, and that bulk fiber data is for install ready jacketed fiber. What percentage of mass is the sheathing? They'll only be making pure fiber up there, sheathing will be added on the ground (if needed, depending on application, I suppose). At least that would be the logical assumption. I can't seem to Google up the mass/meter of just the fiber, but I'm guessing much less than a tenth of the mass of a cable, never mind the mass of the much-larger commercial spool. That changes your numbers considerably.

Yes you only make the core fiber who is hair thin at most, they are designed so light don't bounce but can only travel down the center.  These are mostly for long underwater cables as you will not need to amplify the signal underway who adds lots of complexity and smear out the signal who reduces bandwidth. Underwater cables also has lots of coating, better to think of it as armor. This is not for the cable into your house any more than an car turbo is the same an an rocket turbopump for one you tend to mix multiple frequencies of lasers into the same fiber and split at the end. 

Crystals might be another thing relevant to grow in space, here the IIS is to bumpy so you would want something free floating. 

As space travel become cheaper and you can lift heavier experiments it will be an surge of trying out new stuff, just eliminating gravity from experiments make them much more like spherical cows 

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A killer app for off-planet manufacturing would be the production of microchips and other tech components without the use of precious metals. We are running low on our reserves of palladium and nickel and copper and so many other metals. If someone comes up with a way to grow silicon crystals in zero-gravity that will replace those tech components without the use of rare metals, THAT will be huge.

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26 minutes ago, sevenperforce said:

A killer app for off-planet manufacturing would be the production of microchips and other tech components without the use of precious metals. We are running low on our reserves of palladium and nickel and copper and so many other metals. If someone comes up with a way to grow silicon crystals in zero-gravity that will replace those tech components without the use of rare metals, THAT will be huge.

How are those metalls used in the producion of perfect silicon crystals? I would assume the perfect crystal has no other elements in it...

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38 minutes ago, sevenperforce said:

A killer app for off-planet manufacturing would be the production of microchips and other tech components without the use of precious metals. We are running low on our reserves of palladium and nickel and copper and so many other metals. If someone comes up with a way to grow silicon crystals in zero-gravity that will replace those tech components without the use of rare metals, THAT will be huge.

There's plenty on the bottom of the ocean.

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54 minutes ago, JoeSchmuckatelli said:

There's plenty on the bottom of the ocean.

Yes, but it's generally hard to get at.

1 hour ago, Elthy said:

How are those metalls used in the producion of perfect silicon crystals? I would assume the perfect crystal has no other elements in it...

Oh, I have no idea. I just imagine that some particularly clever inorganic chemist might be able to come up with a crystalline microchip design which would be able to substitute for precious-metal-based microchips.

For example, imagine some microchip that needs platinum or gold in order to work. Pure silicon is a semiconductor, while silicon dioxide is an insulator. It's possible that you could design some sort of silicon+silicon dioxide crystal structure which would provide the same functionality as the platinum or gold microchip, but without needing the platinum or gold. It's also possible that such a structure would require microgravity in order to grow.

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10 hours ago, JoeSchmuckatelli said:

There's plenty on the bottom of the ocean.

Dissolved in the ocean water as ions.
And the experiments on their extraction are being runned by different maintainers, just currently there still is a more available option in ground.

***

Even with the overpure silicon the precious metals and lantanoids are still required, because the silicon is a good semi-conductor, but a semi-good conductor.

Edited by kerbiloid
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On 9/28/2021 at 1:41 AM, JoeSchmuckatelli said:

Easier than Asteroid Mining! 

Probably not. Nearby celestial bodies are known much better than ocean floors and all operations on deep oceans are extremely expensive and more dangerous for humans than space. Cost of space operations decrease all the time but there is no significant development in deep ocean operations (as far as I know). In addition to that there are environmental issues etc. against large scale industrial operations in oceans. I am quite sure that moving mining and refining, later also many assembling tasks, to space will be next generation's solution to environment problems on Earth.

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