Part 5: Design Studies


In the previous part of the book we give an extended example of a program for Human Expansion. The narrative there is intended to show why complex programs exist, how they are organized and designed, and how they evolve. For that purpose, a summary of design studies and decisions based on them is sufficient. In this fifth part of the book we include the design studies in their full detail. This is to show by example how the analyses, calculations, and decisions are done. We also include incomplete work-in-progress studies. Readers are encouraged individually or in teams to add to and improve these studies. This gains skill and experience applying the methods described earlier in the book, and in working in teams, which is how most real projects are carried out. Contributions to studies can also serve as resume items when looking for paid work. which are too detailed or too incomplete to include in the main narrative of the book. Any added results from these studies will be incorporated into earlier parts of the book. As an electronic book, it can be constantly improved, rather than the somewhat static condition of paper textbooks.

The list of studies below is organized first by level of study completion, then by expected order of use within the program.

Full StudiesEdit

We use the term "full" rather than "completed" because no engineering work is every truly complete. As time passes, assumptions made in the study will be affected by real-world changes, and new technology and ideas will get developed. As a consequence, the study could be updated or revised to reflect these changes. For an actual engineering project, however, you must reach a conclusion or make a decision, and proceed to more detailed design or production. This section includes studies which are sufficiently complete that such conclusions or decisions can be made from them. At present (Oct 2012) none of the studies have reached that point.

Studies in WorkEdit

These are studies which have been started, but have not reached completed or full status. They are given their own sections, with as many pages as needed by their length, and approximate completion status is noted here.

  • Conceptual Design for Human Expansion (Status: approx 20%) - This study carries through a first stage analysis and design of the program as a whole. The principal purposes are (1) to determine if such a program is desirable over existing programs, and (2) establish one or more baseline designs for the next stage of work if the program is found desirable. Because this study looks at the whole program, it is the first one to be worked on.
  • Seed Factory Concept Development (Status: approx 10%) - This study attempts to formulate concepts for a "Seed Factory", a starter set of equipment that both outputs more equipment to expand itself and also useful products. It is part of a separate Wikibook on that topic.

Study IdeasEdit

These are ideas for future studies which have not been started yet. They do not have their own section yet, but are merely described here.

Starting Location TradeEdit

The two nearest objects in velocity terms beyond Earth orbit are the Moon and Near Earth Objects (NEOs). If you want to obtain materials or set up production, the question is which to start with? The options are Moon first, NEO first, or both in parallel.


The composition of the Moon and NEOs is different. The Moon does have some Carbon in it, around 100 parts per million. Chondrite asteroids are approx 0.4% carbon (4000 ppm). So given 40 time richer "ore", and the ability to run your processing plant 100% of the time vs 50% on the Moon (lunar night), you likely want to mine an asteroid to get the carbon to *build* a space elevator. Like for terrestrial mining, location of the mine and richness of the ore determine where you want to mine.


Discarded StudiesEdit

Some studies will turn out to be unnecessary, merged with other studies, or otherwise determined to not be useful. They are listed here to have a record of work done previously. This is different than a completed design study for an option not chosen. In that case the study was useful in making the choice among alternatives.

No discarded studies are in this category yet.

Last modified on 27 March 2013, at 17:54