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FKE Space Program

Mechanisms for Financial Return

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Editorial Note: Most of the text in this section was written in 1993, and has not been significantly modified since. As a result, there are significant parts of it that are obsolete, perhaps even quaint. This section will be updated as time permits. I am including this old text now because I think it's important that people know about the work I've been doing, and the directions I'd planned, for a discussion point, at least. Comments are welcome...
-- Fred Koschara, April 8, 1997 @ 7:05 pm


The colonization of space is the primary objective of FKE because it holds a greater prospect of future development for mankind than any other avenue of pursuit available. By opening the door to new worlds, and the unlimited resources that can be found in the vastness of the universe, many, if not all, of the world's problems can be solved. A far brighter future will be possible for humanity if we are willing to start into space than if we all try to fit onto this globe for the rest of time. The world is ready for, indeed needs, a new frontier to explore and provide room for growth, and space is the prime choice because it is so big. We have reached a stage in our growth where we must now leave Mother Earth if we are to continue our development. The main obstacle at this point to such an expansion is the lack of cohesive leadership, the lack of a master plan by which an individual or firm can direct the ready efforts of those willing to move. FKE is implementing just such a plan, and will be putting it into motion as it is defined.

Due to fluctuating public policy and a lack of individual responsibility in the government space efforts, we can expect that those agencies will be unable to bring about any real development of space in the foreseeable future. It has thus fallen on the shoulders of the business world to make a move to develop a more workable plan for space exploration and colonization.

The proposed FKE Space Program is to be developed without using any direct government funding. Since no one individual is personally able to underwrite such a vast effort, it is necessary to attract outside capital in order to proceed. Such an investment cannot be expected, however, unless a tangible (and believable) profit can be demonstrated to result from the venture: In order for the space colonies to become a commercially viable venture, they must be expected to be able to pay for their development. Some of the options being examined are:

  1. Spinoff technologies developed to use the fruits of our research in other fields
  2. Providing launch services for other organizations
  3. In-orbit satellite maintenance and repair
  4. Developing a space tourism business
  5. Space manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, electronic devices, and other specialty materials
  6. Supplying solar power on a large scale
  7. Garbage disposal to help reduce the global waste crisis
  8. Utilizing discoveries in space medicine to improve the lives of people on Earth
  9. Providing access to raw materials found throughout the solar system.

Each of these potential sources of income is explored in more detail in the following pages. Some of them will be immediately available once the FKE Space Program gets off the ground, while others will only start to grow in important as the colonization of space becomes a full-scale project.

Spinoff Technologies

As with any space program, the first financial returns are not likely to come from the main effort itself, but rather from "spinoffs," products and services made possible through deriving commercial uses of the science and technology developed to support space travel. Although most spinoffs cannot be predicted beforehand, there are some I have anticipated, and would like to participate in developing:

Monorails

Another transportation system under consideration by FKE is the development of a network providing monorail service. By putting a pylon down every few hundred feet in the medians of the interstate highway system, an extensive coverage could be supplied without using more land than is presently allocated to transportation. Operated at speeds of two hundred fifty miles per hour, monorails would provide rapid, efficient transportation between cities, often taking less time for door-to-door travel than air service could. Serving the surrounding communities would also be quite plausible, but the trains would not be operated at the high velocities of the express routes. By building its stations, and operating its trains, several stories above the ground, monorails would be able to offer their passengers a panoramic view of the community, and to serve the community's transportation needs, without unnecessary intrusion on their existing systems.

As an added benefit to developing the monorail network, the magnetic levitation and propulsion systems on which the transportation system is based are planned to be used in the company's launch system: To provide its rockets with their initial boost toward orbit, FKE is planning to build a large catapult, sloping up a mountain. Using mammoth ground-based generators, an electromechanical propulsion system would start the spacecraft moving, and boost it through the hardest part of its flight - the lower atmosphere. By the time the vessel reaches the top of the track, it would be traveling several hundred miles per hour, receiving a final boost from the ground as it is thrown into the air by the carriage supporting it. Since a launch using this type of system would put a tremendous load on the electrical system driving it, a form of energy storage would be needed that can supply the surge currents required. The monorail cars will contain supeconducting coils to supply their propulsion and lift; the same technology could also be used for energy storage, and would meet the needs of the launch system. In addition to being a more efficient use of resources, and less environmentally damaging, this scheme would also result in being able to launch either a larger payload or a smaller rocket, with equal ease, than the present rocket-only system does.

An additional incentive to build the monorail system is that it is also being planned as the primary transport system to be used inside the space colonies. Any terrestrial experience with the transport medium, therefore, will directly be applicable to the design work for the colonies.

Using the technologies developed for the linear motor catapult, and also derived from current magnetic levitation research, an inter-city network of monorails could be constructed. Hanging from pylons placed in the medians of the interstate highway system, these high-tech trains could provide fast, efficient transportation, and relieve a significant part of the rush-hour traffic that cripples our transportation systems twice a day.

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Hypersonic airline service

Approximately fifty years ago, a German aircraft designer (Sanger) developed the boost/glide vehicle concept: During the first phase of its flight, such an aircraft accelerates rapidly to reach its cruising speed. On attaining that velocity, the engines are shut down, and for the remainder of the flight, the vehicle glides through the atmosphere, using its momentum to reach the selected destination. The idea has been researched extensively, and a workable design is available to build such a vehicle today. Cruising at an altitude of about twenty miles, through the edge of space, it would travel approximately fifteen times the speed of sound (over ten thousand miles per hour!). Such a vehicle could easily traverse the Pacific, traveling from Los Angeles to Tokyo in less than an hour. It would also make commuting from New York to London feasible, since that trip would take about thirty minutes. Perhaps the most incredible feat accomplished by this type of aircraft, the hypersonic transport, is that its operating costs would be approximately half that of a Boeing 747, the most efficient one in the air today.

We know how to build hypersonic transports, and the technology is available now that would enable its construction. The major obstacle preventing the vehicle from being introduced is obtaining funding to build operational prototypes, and for final testing that would yield a commercially viable product. Recognizing the tremendous benefits to be gained through use of hypersonic transportation, and of the technology it represents, FKE plans to pursue a program through which it will participate in the aircraft's development.

An airline providing hypersonic transport service between widely separated points on the globe could bring about significant economic changes, simply by reducing the amount of time needed to transport goods and personnel between distant locations. By reducing transatlantic travel time to approximately half an hour, for example, intercontinental commuting could become a viable option! With no two points on the globe more than an hour apart, "just-in-time" manufacturing would take on a whole new meaning, and service calls to distant facilities could be accomplished within a day, rather than within a week.

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Applications of robotic technology

Widely usable robotic technology is perhaps one of the most exciting (and most promising) spinoffs I anticipate. Much of the manufacturing and construction that will be done in the early Lunar development phase of our space program will need to be done by robots, and I expect much of that technology to be directly applicable to Earth-bound applications. In addition, robotic transportation systems used in the space program are envisioned to produce new products, ranging from wheelchairs more capable of handling obstacles in the environment, to self-guided taxicabs and delivery vans.

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Communications

Along with transportation, the business world requires convenient communication facilities to work smoothly. Without a rapid, easy-to-use way to convey ideas and information, a transaction would require the personal appearance by all of the parties involved. Since that is not always practical, much of the business conducted today could not take place. Keeping the communications network at a peak level of performance, therefore, is imperative, and any way to improve the system can do nothing but help.

Several areas are being investigated by FKE which use the technology available now, or expected in the near future, to improve the ways the world communicates. Four are worth specific mention:

  1. cellular telephones
  2. direct satellite broadcast
  3. fiber optics
  4. video telephones

Cellular telephones are rearranging the way business is conducted, even though the technology is new and operating costs are high. Its users no longer have to stay in their office to have access to a telephone, they can carry it with them wherever they go. Salesmen don't have to search for a telephone booth to call on their clients, they can do it from their car. Doctors can start their diagnosis of a patient driving to the hospital, and service technicians can get their new orders after finishing at a client site, without using the customer's phone.

Several opportunities exist within the cellular telephone market. In addition to the need for an inexpensive, full-featured, and compact, transceiver, there are many areas of the country where the service is not even offered yet. In any particular market, the FCC has decreed that two companies will be given licenses for cellular telephone service: One may be related to the Bell telephone network, the other must be an independent company. Although the Bell system has a large resource base behind it, the new contenders are proving themselves as serious competition. One reason is that the antenna and switching system used by the non-Bell companies is technologically superior. Add to that aggressive pricing and sales programs, and the non-wireline companies are growing much faster than the wireline ones are. Customers are complaining with both services, however, and growth into new territory is not happening as quickly as its users would like to see. Becoming a participant in the cellular telephone industry could be profitable for the communications department of FKE.

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Direct satellite broadcast of radio and television signals to home receivers is a method that will broaden the range of the transmitting concerns beyond limits that today require a network of stations to achieve a given coverage. It will make possible nationwide coverage from a single facility, reducing programming problems to a minimum. The advertising revenues possible from the wide scope of the broadcast range make the concept quite financially attractive. With its new transmission format, direct satellite broadcast could prove to be an opportunity to upgrade the quality of TV pictures: No longer required to maintain compatibility with existing systems, a higher scan density could be used, resulting in greater picture detail. The prospect of that change alone induces many companies to investigate the idea, and proposed standards are now being drafted that could define the next stage in the evolution of television. Whether or not those standards are approved in the near future, the concept of direct satellite broadcast holds a significant promise to improve communication to the public.

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Fiber optics offer to be the solution to many communications problems, since it is a transmission medium immune to electrical interference, with the high bandwidth necessary to carry the volumes of information passed in today's world. Several problems must be resolved before the technology can be utilized to its full potential, including the distance a signal can be transmitted before it must be boosted by a repeater station. Work is being done on these problems in many laboratories around the world today, but even when successful systems of products have been introduced, there will be room for improvement. Without developing any of the new technology on its own, FKE will be able to capitalize on the potential of fiber optics through the introduction of advanced systems utilizing its benefits.

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PicturePhone is a concept that has been being discussed for years, both inside and out of the telephone companies, but could be as far in the future now as it has ever been in the past. Several problems stand in the way of development of a workable PicturePhone system. The cost of the station equipment aside, there are considerations of how to implement the display to give users the quality in imaging that will be needed if the product is to be a commercial success. The public is looking for a system that will give them a reasonably sized picture, but won't be satisfied if it lacks detail or is updated too slowly. Sending a picture from one telephone set to another is another major problem, since the existing network could not handle the amount of data required.

Commercial development of the PicturePhone concept may not be possible within the existing telephone system. The whole country may need to be rewired with a new communication channel to get enough information handling capacity for the idea to work. If that happens, other networks, such as the IViN system described elsewhere in this document, may have an opportunity to fill the gap left by the Bell system.

Communications will play an important role in the development of space colonies, both in the conduct of business here on Earth, and to coordinate operations as the program moves into space. By developing an early interest in the field, then maintaining an ability at the forefront of technological development, the firm will continue to own the communication tools needed to effectively execute its plans.

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Education

As automation increases, people become more frequently called upon for skilled tasks, and machines are given the less creative, repetitive jobs, which large parts of the population have depended on for their livelihood. The displaced people often feel abandoned by their employers, forgetting that the purpose of their job was to perform a useful function, not to keep themselves busy. Using a little foresight, however, employers could gain immense amounts of good will by retraining their valued workers for new tasks: Without skilled personnel to perform its endeavors, the business world cannot expect to function. By giving its current employees an opportunity to advance, a firm earns loyalty from the workforce, and gains a reputation as a respectable source of income, attracting better recruits for its ranks during times of expansion.

Teaching workers to perform new tasks is one phase of education that produces a nearly immediate benefit for a company. Instructing children in school covers a similar function, but is an investment that has a much longer time before its return is felt. Both are necessary parts of an educational system, and tools used in one arena are often applicable in the other. Developing those systems is an opportunity for profit, through their sale to other users, and an investment in the future, as their use accumulates over a period of time. In order to get and maintain the most attractive learning environment available, FKE is planning to become actively involved in developing advanced educational systems, for use internally, and for sale to public and private institutions. An educated population is more likely to understand and appreciate the development of space colonies, and the benefits they can be expected to bring. It is therefore in the company's best interest to insure it makes the most advanced teaching tools possible available to the surrounding community, including the advanced computer assisted education systems the firm is planning to develop.

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Launch Services

One of the first ways that our space program will start paying for itself is through offering launch services in competition with the presently established firms and governments. Since our operating costs will be significantly lower than purely rocket-based systems, we expect to attract a large percentage of the commercial launch market. That market currently includes, for example, communication satellites, Earth-observation projects, and scientific payloads. As launch costs come down, the traffic can be expected to increase rapidly, so this represents a tremendous opportunity. Once we have a firm date projected for completion of our launch facilities, and can therefore expect to deliver the transportation we are selling, this is a market that will be pursued aggressively.

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Satellite Maintenance and Repair

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Space Tourism

As unbelievable as it may sound today, space tourism is expected to become an increasingly important part of the FKE Space Program's economic picture in a relatively short period of time: We expect that the number of people wanting and able to take vacations in space will be an explosive growth market nearly as soon as the facilities to accommodate tourists have been installed.

Although such a prediction would be out of the question based on current operating costs, and the resultant prohibitive travel costs for the consumer, our low-cost launch system is expected to open a new door of opportunity for the adventurous. A quick survey of popular space-oriented periodicals reveals there are already firms selling travel programs to space, even though they have no launch capability, nor do they expect to do so. Imagine, then, how easy it will be to sell space travel when we can offer a real ride!

This may not be a huge money-maker at first, but is an option that will have growing financial significance as the market, and the reliability of the transportation system, are developed.

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Space Manufacturing

Please refer to the Space Manufacturing page of Our Business Model in the Where's The Money? section of this site for current information about our space manufacturing plans.

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Solar Power

Generating electricity using the virtually free and continuous power of the sun, then beaming the power to Earth for distribution through existing networks of power companies, could be a significant source of income for the colonies. Such a source of power would be virtually pollution-free, making it extremely attractive environmentally. As supplies of fossil fuels are depleted, their costs will rise, making power generated in space an even more attractive option financially. Once the initial costs of development have been recovered, space-based power plants will be operable at low levels of maintenance, resulting in reduced real costs for the power that is supplied to ground users. Lowering energy costs can only benefit modern civilization, since energy consumption can be shown to rise dramatically as the standard of living is raised. If cheaper power is available, per capita consumption can increase without adverse budget effects, yielding a better quality of life.

Solar power plants, manufactured from Lunar materials, and then installed at stationary points above receivers on Earth, will prove to be one of the most profitable long-range paybacks of the space development program. Beaming electricity through microwave or ultraviolet laser transmission systems to a power-hungry civilization sprawling across the entire planet, these facilities will make commercially viable solar power a reality. Relieved of pollution caused by fossil-fueled power plants, and of the dangers of nuclear-powered ones, future civilizations will enjoy a cleaner, safer environment than we have today, with the added benefit of economic growth made possible by a virtually unlimited energy source. In the final analysis, this one factor could prove to be the difference between survival of human civilization on Earth and its untimely demise through self-imposed strangulation or suicide. It is this crucial position of solar power satellites that has led us to make them a key component of our space development plan, and a major priority for our research efforts.

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Garbage Disposal

In spite of its lackluster appearance, garbage disposal could also prove to be a viable way of financing part of the operating costs of our space program. With landfills reaching their capacities and communities resisting development of new ones, combined with concerns of pollution from seeping toxic wastes or air-born contamination from incineration, waste management is becoming an issue without a solution for much of the world. Well, I have an answer: We will, for a fee, ship the trash to space, so that the trash producers no longer have to worry about where it goes when they throw it away. There's lots of room on the Moon, for example, to build a landfill, and I would not hesitate to use some of the available space for that purpose.

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Space Medicine

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Raw Materials

By traveling to the Moon, then to the other heavenly bodies in the Solar System, our access to raw materials will be tremendously expanded beyond the limited resource base available here on Earth. In addition to supplying the needs of the manufacturing community in space, this will also provide more opportunities for growth in Earth-based civilization. We have already found valuable resources through our limited exploration of the Moon. What we discover in exploring beyond the efforts of the past remains to be seen, but will undoubtedly return significant wealth to those who take the initiative to reach beyond our current horizons.

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Intangible Returns

Even advertising can be expected to benefit from the colonization of space: The term "skywriting" will take on a new meaning when a system is in place to display messages visible from the Earth across the surface of the Moon. Such a system is not as impossible as it first seems: Working in a space environment, it would be possible to construct huge shutters, miles across but weighing only a few pounds. By rotating arrays of such devices in controlled patterns, it would be possible to darken vast areas of the Lunar surface with an artificial eclipse, creating an image visible from hundreds of thousands of miles away: from the surface of the Earth. Imagine having your company name displayed on the face of the Moon for all to see . . .

Beyond their role as work sites for the other efforts of the space program, the space colonies themselves are a payback that should be considered when reviewing this plan. Only by dispersing the human race throughout the Solar System, and ultimately throughout the universe, can we assure its long-range survival. With global thermonuclear war a looming possibility, made more terrible by the fact that it could be started even by accident, depending on one small planet to hold all of our future plans is foolish at best. The appearance of the AIDS virus, which had been spreading for five years before it was even discovered, foreshadows another dangerous possibility: Genetic experimentation, gone astray in a subtle manner that isn't recognized until it's too late, holds another species-wide danger that must be provided for. We can only assure survival of the species beyond calamities such as these by establishing, and maintaining, independent, self-sufficient colonies spread as widely across the universe as is humanly possible, and as soon as we can.

Considered in another light, the space colonies can also be shown to bring about more subtle benefits: Simply having a new frontier to explore will improve the collective mental health of our planet's population. With the challenges of learning to adapt to a completely new situation, our modern pioneers will have to invent solutions to unanticipated problems, and will undoubtedly find new ways to handle old difficulties as well. The creative potential, possibilities of discovering vast wealth, and the opportunity to achieve fame from unexpected turns of events, are all attractions which draw adventurous individuals to a frontier. In addition, the expanding horizons of a frontier always bring about a new set of opportunities for discontent individuals and groups to establish their own communities, and to live their lives in a manner often not accepted by the rest of the civilized world. Displaced societies can find new homelands, and misfit individuals have the hope of creating niches which support their lives without discomfort or distress to themselves or the world around them. The economic return on effects such as these cannot easily be measured, but are as real as any which can be accounted for on the ledgers of the banking community.

Most of the benefits to be gained from development of space have not even been thought of yet. Many areas of basic research are difficult, at best, here on Earth. As we get the opportunity to move away from large planetary masses, away from the strong electromagnetic interference of modern civilization, out of the gravity well that has been mankind's home since before recorded history began, new realms of exploration and discovery will open to inquisitive minds. Who can guess what new and exciting finds will be made as our scientific base of knowledge expands by orders of magnitude? Many researchers today would sell their soul for an opportunity to have the facilities that will be available in the relatively near future. The price we are asking is considerably lower than that!

Potentially one of the greatest benefits that may be achieved by the space colonies is nuclear survival, and the ability to live past any other types of mass genocide that become available. We have constructed ourselves a house of dynamite, and now live in fear that someone might light a match. If a global nuclear war were to break out, or if a deadly genetic experiment got released into the atmosphere, the entire human race could be destroyed in a very short period of time. In addition, many corporate attitudes seem concerned with only maximizing today's bottom line, with no concern for the future. This outlook leads to dumping amazingly toxic wastes into the atmosphere and oceans, a move which can only bring harm in the long run. Humanity has to diversify its hold in the universe if it is to survive. Only through space colonization is that option available, and we had all best hope we're not to late.

Along similar lines, the possibility of establishing independent societies that live by their own rules is much more likely in the open realm of space. Nearly all of the Earth's usable surface is claimed by one or more governments, and none seem to be very interested in giving up parts of their territory to make room for displaced or discontent groups. Needless to say, this is making a significant contribution to the world's tension level, and increasing the possibility of a global error. Opening the door of possibility to these people will probably be a significant source of relief, to themselves, and to the rest of the world they are making unhappy as they complain.

With the new directions available for societies to explore, the possibility of fatal stagnation will also decrease. A civilization that's afraid to change will eventually die from a lack of spirit. With branches reaching out in every direction through the universe, humanity can expect to avoid that fate, if we are willing to make the effort to get out there in the first place. Demanding that all of the problems at home be solved before we turn our attention to the new ones to be found in space is a totally unrealistic demand, because not all of the answers exist here on the Earth. Only through progress can we expect to effect constructive change, and the exploration and colonization of space can certainly be shown to be progress.

As we expand into the universe, reaching out to other planets and stars, we can expect to find that there really are no limits to growth in our conceivable future. When we contact alien civilizations, competition for resources will be encountered, but opportunities for trade will be much more common. Peaceful coexistence will be a much more believable concept once people realize that it really is an infinite universe, and that there is more than enough for everyone to get what they want.

Space exploration and colonization holds the potential for fulfillment of all of humanity's rational dreams. However, we are still crippled by the lack of a viable plan for developing the possibilities open to us. The commercial use of space, and the opportunities it represents, are the only methods that will be able to attract the development participation necessary to achieve a suitable level of effort. This is a splendid chance for capitalism to show its mettle and prove its worth: to demonstrate that the profit motive is the most powerful incentive available in modern civilized society. Such is part of the reasoning behind FKE' decision to pursue its plan of leading the business world into the vast realm of commercial possibility found in infinite space. Anyone who wishes to join the effort in a constructive manner is welcome, and all who do join can expect to have plenty of work to do!

There is no question that a space exploration and development program will return a profit to those who invest into it. Although many of the benefits have a very long pay-back term, or are difficult to measure, any investment can be expected to ultimately prove its worth to the investor. Beyond the simple economic appeal of achieving an incredible monetary profit, it is the longer-term intangible benefits that have led FKE to its involvement in a space development effort, and which will ultimately prove more of a satisfaction to its principals and staff.

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