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James Hoover: on 5/29/14 at 18:31pm UTC, wrote Bob, Regards, Jim

Bob Freeman: on 5/28/14 at 16:16pm UTC, wrote Jim Glad to look at it, where is the essay located? Bob

Anonymous: on 5/26/14 at 18:02pm UTC, wrote Bob, It seems unbelievable but futurists have spoken of an elevator to a...

Tommy Anderberg: on 5/18/14 at 19:39pm UTC, wrote You won't get microgravity at the height reachable by balloon. The altitude...

Bob Freeman: on 5/18/14 at 17:25pm UTC, wrote Tommy, You are right, there are no calculations, it is designed more as a...

Tommy Anderberg: on 5/18/14 at 16:26pm UTC, wrote I had a look at your site, but did not see any attempt to calculate...

Anonymous: on 5/17/14 at 1:58am UTC, wrote Tommy, Thanks for your interest in the project. Took a look at rockoon...

Tommy Anderberg: on 5/16/14 at 21:40pm UTC, wrote What you are proposing is essentially an evolved rockoon. Those have a long...


Robert McEachern: ""At the risk of stroking physicists’ egos, physics is hard" But every..." in Will A.I. Take Over...

George Musser: "Imagine you could feed the data of the world into a computer and have it..." in Will A.I. Take Over...

Steve Dufourny: "Personally Joe me I see like that ,imagine that this infinite eternal..." in First Things First: The...

Steve Dufourny: "Joe it is wonderful this,so you are going to have a nobel prize in..." in First Things First: The...

Robert McEachern: ""I'm not sure that the 'thing as it is' is irrelevant." It is not. It is..." in Schrödinger’s Zombie:...

Steve Dufourny: "lol Zeeya it is well thought this algorythm selective when names are put in..." in Mass–Energy Equivalence...

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Georgina Woodward: "I suggested the turnstiles separate odd form even numbered tickets randomly..." in Schrödinger’s Zombie:...

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First Things First: The Physics of Causality
Why do we remember the past and not the future? Untangling the connections between cause and effect, choice, and entropy.

Can Time Be Saved From Physics?
Philosophers, physicists and neuroscientists discuss how our sense of time’s flow might arise through our interactions with external stimuli—despite suggestions from Einstein's relativity that our perception of the passage of time is an illusion.

A devilish new framework of thermodynamics that focuses on how we observe information could help illuminate our understanding of probability and rewrite quantum theory.

Gravity's Residue
An unusual approach to unifying the laws of physics could solve Hawking's black-hole information paradox—and its predicted gravitational "memory effect" could be picked up by LIGO.

Could Mind Forge the Universe?
Objective reality, and the laws of physics themselves, emerge from our observations, according to a new framework that turns what we think of as fundamental on its head.

October 18, 2019

CATEGORY: How Should Humanity Steer the Future? Essay Contest (2014) [back]
TOPIC: Cheap Space Flight for Everyone by Bob Freeman [refresh]
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Author Bob Freeman wrote on Feb. 21, 2014 @ 16:55 GMT
Essay Abstract

Less than 100 humans and a dozen dogs and monkeys have made it off this planet. We are proposing a cheaper, accessible method to break the bonds of the gravity well with the ultimate goal of inhabiting an area with more surface area for growth: the asteriod belt

Author Bio

Bob Freeman, Public Health Microbiologist (retired), Program Designer of Laboratory Information Systems:

Download Essay PDF File

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Joe Fisher wrote on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 16:55 GMT
Mr. Freeman,

Your contention that “If the human race is to survive and evolve, we need to move off this planet and colonize the near solar system,” seems not to be accurate.

Fact: About forty million Americans, a considerable number of whom are black or Hispanic, live below the poverty line. A month or so ago, they were treated to the fact that there was a problem on the Skylab. The predominantly white government of the United States, which has already spent billions of dollars on space exploration, including paying a million dollars for each white spacesuit a white astronaut wears, and $20 million for a white lavatory about a dozen white astronauts have used, wasted no time in announcing a national white astronaut emergency. Apparently to help pay for this astronaut emergency, the government cut $9 billion from the Food Stamp program.

Are you seriously telling me that black and Hispanic people do not have the ability to survive and evolve?

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Author Bob Freeman replied on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 22:46 GMT

My understanding of "If the human race is to survive and evolve" is that the human race includes all types of humans, not just white Americans.

We need new horizons and there is more space in space than on this planet. We will continue to evolve no matter where we are...for example, some swallows living beneath a bridge in Texas have evolved to have shorter tails in 40 years or so, simple Darwin evolution; those with longer tails got hit by cars.

The more diverse we are an the more diverse environments we live in the better chance of survival.

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Joe Fisher replied on Mar. 10, 2014 @ 16:15 GMT
Respectfully Bob,

You wrote: " My understanding of "If the human race is to survive and evolve" is that the human race includes all types of humans, not just white Americans." If you believe that, could you please find a way for predominantly white male governments of the world to desist from spending trillions of dollars on war preparation? There is no sensible need to try to find out if there ever was a drop of water on Mars. There is a chronic need to rebuild all of the infrastructure, especially, the slums where the poor try to live.

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Feb. 26, 2014 @ 15:23 GMT
Dear Bob

I am full of admiration and respect for the explorers and pioneers who have extended the geographical boundaries of human knowledge and habitation, but at a certain point we have to realize that wherever we eventually settle we still have to live with ourselves. It was us who have polluted our Earth and managed to invent every sort of destructive weapon. Would humanity change its way of thinking (and hence its destiny) merely by going into space? I doubt it, but it does no harm to try and get there on the lowest budget possible!

With best wishes


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Author Bob Freeman replied on Feb. 27, 2014 @ 23:10 GMT

I agree, just moving off the planet will not change the basic nature of humans (both good and bad), but having more room to maneuver can't hurt.

Just think of the diverse cultures that could develop if we colonized the asteroid belt.

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James Dunn wrote on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 15:15 GMT
Venus can potentially be terra-formed from space by dropping catalysts into the dense atmosphere and have them utilize the atmosphere to produce oxygen and designer hydrocarbons. After phased conversion of the atmosphere, satellite shade structures can lower temperatures and control the Venus weather systems.

The same system can be used here on Earth to control the weather to actively control global warming and global climate instability.

We cannot haul food out into space.

Venus has 90% of the gravity compared to Earth and it can hold its atmosphere despite the Sun. After terra-forming the conditions would be like living in Albuquerque, New Mexico at about 1 mile above sea level.

Mars has 38% of the gravity compared to Earth and it cannot hold its atmosphere; currently the equivalent to living at 125,000 feet above sea level here on Earth. Terra-forming would need to be done in caverns. We could never go outside without a suit.

Personally, I think the effort to go to Mars is a waste of resources. The only reason to go there is to mine the Jupiter/Mars asteroids.

The total mass of the asteroid belt is 1/35 th the mass of the Earth's Moon.

Three of Jupiter's largest moons would need to be merged into Mars to increase the mass enough to hold a human friendly atmosphere.

I would rather see more resources being spent to accelerate research involving space-time manipulation. Then the resource limitations evaporate. We can live anywhere, including deep space without adjacency to any star.

James Dunn

FQXi Submission:

Graduated Certification for Certification of Common Sense

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James Dunn replied on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 16:02 GMT
Space Flight does not need to be cheap to be financially sustainable.

Look at fossil fuels. They should be an expensive commodity because of the rate they are being used, the limited long-term availability, and the margin to exhaustion. But the cost is supported by a tremendous number of diverse users that combine to make a economically stable system.

The space program can similarly be supported by producing a space-based weather control system and solar energy generator (peta-watts).

Japan is the first to invest 21 million dollars into deploying the first satellite based solar power generation system. Japan has no natural resources.

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Author Bob Freeman replied on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 16:14 GMT

It is not a matter of being financially sustainable but of access.

Rockets are expensive and have limited capacity for passengers. I'd like to see a cheap, accessible system so that anyone with the desire and skills can move off the planet.

Certainly this is far-fetched, but we need to try new things that benefit a larger population than the top 1% to 10% with lots of money.

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Ryoji Furui wrote on Apr. 20, 2014 @ 15:49 GMT
Dear Bob,

escaping from the earth might be one of the solutions for current problems, however in the process of colonizing we will find how the earth is so fine tuned for human beings. in my essay, i expect we find the solution without saying goodby to the earth. on the other hand, i expect the possibility of easier space travel in the near future.

thank you,


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Georgina Woodward wrote on Apr. 21, 2014 @ 02:20 GMT
Hi Bob,

Your essay is short and to the point. Good that you offer solution to problems rather than just highlighting problems. I too think that going into space might be a worthy goal for mankind but also think we are far from ready to take that step.

I feel you have given up on undersea option too easily. There are new self healing materials being developed and appearing on the market. Perhaps in the future living materials that we can utilize will be developed. I think the ocean floor is far less inhospitable than Mars.It could be good practice for living in a self sufficient biosphere prior to heading into space.

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Author Bob Freeman replied on Apr. 21, 2014 @ 03:25 GMT

Thanks for your comments on the subject.

You may be right on me giving up on the undersea option too soon, but since it is wet, cold, corrosive and under high pressure, space seems a better option.

The oceans are huge, but they are still limiting. At some point they will be filled up with humans, and if the reports from the search for flight MH370 are any indication, already polluted.

Outer space is, by definition, virtually unlimited. I see no reason we can't explore both areas, I just want to make it easier and cheaper for anyone who wants to go to explore life off this gravity well.

Mars is just another gravity well and I've been in deserts before, I see no advantage to going there.

The Asteroid belt is another issue. Lots of surface area, unlimited power and I expect, minerals for the taking. While the solar power may not be as strong as in the inner planets, it is constant and a simple heat pump from one side of a piece of rock to the other should supply another unlimited power source.

Quite simply the proposed hydrogen balloons discussed at for use as an initial launch system is as cheap as it is going to get, unless the Jetson's let us use their antigravity cars, but as I recall, they were cartoons.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Apr. 22, 2014 @ 06:36 GMT
Thanks Bob. Space doesn't appeal to me, there are hazards from all those rocks, radiation exposure and effects of low gravity. I don't think human biology is suited to space living. Purpose built robots on the other hand might do fine out there, if it is just about mining.

I can understand the romanticism of a new frontier to explore and exploit and how for some it would be a heroic adventure.Good luck to them. I'd rather drink cocoa by a warm fire : )

I took a look at the web site, more information there would be good. I'd be interested to see what the different stages would look like and if this is just an idea or whether you are hoping to get funding together to try it out. Thanks.


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Author Bob Freeman replied on Apr. 22, 2014 @ 13:59 GMT

Thanks for taking a look at the site.

Unfortunately all attempts at funding (Indiegogo, kickstarter) have fallen flat.

There is always talk of thinking out of the box and being innovative, but my experience has been quite different.

Nevertheless, since the science is good, I'll keep on pushing and see if it will get some traction with those who actually have an interest (and a few $ to kick around to try something new that might change the direction of the way things work).


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Peter Jackson wrote on May. 6, 2014 @ 19:20 GMT

Good thinking. Very original. Love it. Sign me up. Far better than searching the galaxy fruitlessly forever for a clone of planet world! I wouldn't have to worry about my diet, and my knees, worn our from years of sport, would get a welcome respite. I can only see the odd minor issues to resolve, like; Where does the food, water and oxygen come from?

I also certainly agree; "There is always talk of thinking out of the box and being innovative, but my experience has been quite different." You and me both Bob. Anything original or off paradigm and you're consigned as a crackpot before it's even studied.


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Author Bob Freeman replied on May. 6, 2014 @ 19:32 GMT

Thanks for the support

Food, Water and Oxygen should be minor points, if we get enough lift from the h2liftships, we can just start tossing those items into orbit and pick them up at our leisure.

Once we get further out, mining asteroids would be my guess for water/oxygen and the rest can be figured out as time goes on, The key is to start getting established off-planet and let the innovation begin.

more at

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Peter Jackson replied on May. 7, 2014 @ 12:25 GMT

You're right of course, once we have the scientific understanding and technology it won't be a problem. The fact that we're currently stuck in a deep theoretical 'rut', so can't get there, should be resolved by the hypothesis in my essay, building on last years successful approach to identify a real way mechanism for converging relativistic and quantum physics.

I propose that just getting off this planet to escape earth-centric thinking will allow more major steps, so Bob and Alice do just that! I think you'll like it. Let me know.

Best wishes


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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on May. 11, 2014 @ 12:04 GMT
Dear Bob,

Exactly, Humanity must be Giants Dream. And it is - Space exploration.

"As it immensely - Earth's gravity,

The attraction of the fields and the sad willows,

All roads on which we as a child passed

And the roads that go ahead.

There are high mountains,

There's endless steppes,

There, the winds are flying on dusty country roads.

We - the children of the galaxy,

But the most important thing -

We are your children, dear Earth!

Earth's gravity, gravity, gardens,

And the sunsets and pines in a fluffy snow

Small villages and large cities,

And the night fire on an empty shore.

Do not change this order of things,

And catch up with me, and I shall remember me

Earth's gravity, gravity, friends,

Gravity, a favorite in the distant window."

I wish you good luck!

All the Best,


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Tommy Anderberg wrote on May. 16, 2014 @ 21:40 GMT
What you are proposing is essentially an evolved rockoon. Those have a long history, but JP Aerospace is the only company I know of which seems to be taking balloon-assisted space launches seriously. You may like their Airship to Orbit concept.

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Anonymous replied on May. 17, 2014 @ 01:58 GMT

Thanks for your interest in the project.

Took a look at rockoon web page and it looks like a great system, but it is still just using conventional rockets with a pre-lift using balloons.

I'm proposing that the balloon be part of the lift packet for use later as storage or solar sail

It would require a "mast" structure for the balloon to be wrapped around and to pump the hydrogen down to the H2+O2 rocket.

JP's Aerospace to Airship Orbit is also a great concept, but requires extensive engineering and support while the system we propose is just a simple extension of current high altitude balloons.

This will make it available to smaller players in the market without the support of large government engineers, not that this is a bad way to do it.

In any case, the more systems we have the better, to find one that works best.

I've also outlined a few other issues on how a "slow" lift system works compared to explosive rocket designs at


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Tommy Anderberg replied on May. 18, 2014 @ 16:26 GMT
I had a look at your site, but did not see any attempt to calculate anything. The closest thing I could find to a description of the proposal states that

The boost crew compresses the hydrogen using compressor pumps on treadmills while the balloon is re-configured, supplying thrust to boost the ship from the grip of gravity.

So people running on treadmills are going to provide enough power to keep themselves and the ship airborn, plus excess power for the compressors? Given the state of human-powered flight, this seems a tad optimistic.

Have you tried to compare (1) the amount of hydrogen required to lift a balloon carrying some payload into the stratosphere to (2) the amount of hydrogen required to fuel a rocket capable of bringing the same payload to LEO? The volume of a high altitude balloon is huge, but its density is quite low (after all, that's why it flies). A rocket is the other way around; large mass in a small volume.

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Author Bob Freeman replied on May. 18, 2014 @ 17:25 GMT

You are right, there are no calculations, it is designed more as a concept that needs more exploration.

We really don't know if microgravity at higher altitudes would reduce the amount of lift required or if the small amount of solar wind could be used as a slight push at higher altitudes.

These small items could make a the difference between success or a spectacular failure.

These can only be discovered if an attempt is made using the H2lift balloon.

Calculations can prove that it can't work, but experience could show that it may, and where is the fun if you prove it is impossible and never try?

The site ( also presents the concept as a "scifi" story, that is still not complete (having trouble finding the time to devote to polishing it up since regular work seems to demand my time). SciFi allows humans, dogs and monkeys to be part of a launch sequence, reality has some different answers.

Again, thanks for taking the time to review the web page and information


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Anonymous wrote on May. 26, 2014 @ 18:02 GMT

It seems unbelievable but futurists have spoken of an elevator to a geocentric satellite some 22,000 miles above us. I thought of this as you describe methods of reaching space, sort of the last frontier.

In my essay I speak of "Looking beyond" in terms of Earth and orthodox science. I would like to see your views on my essay.


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Author Bob Freeman replied on May. 28, 2014 @ 16:16 GMT

Glad to look at it, where is the essay located?


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James Lee Hoover replied on May. 29, 2014 @ 18:31 GMT



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